If your non-profit holds one or more fundraising events each year, you know the power of event sponsors. Event sponsors can be businesses, individuals, families, or other non-profits that support your charity events with major gifts. In return for their donations, sponsors get a package of benefits that can include tickets or tables at the event, marketing benefits, and more.
As noted in our recent article How to Raise More Money at Your Non Profit Events, your event sponsors should make up at least 50-60% of the revenue for your charity events. Here are four ways to find more sponsors – and raise more money – for your non-profit’s fundraising events:
#1 – Start with Last Year’s Sponsors
The most important source of sponsors for your charity events should be your previous sponsors. If this is an event that you have held before, reach out to past sponsors early in the process. Thank them again for their previous support, remind them of the success of your past events, and ask them to renew their sponsorship for this coming year. Better yet, ask them to upgrade by sponsoring the event at a higher level this year.
The best way to renew past sponsors is by setting up a meeting with them, or by sending them a letter followed by a phone call. Either way, be sure your sponsors know that you appreciate their continued support, and be sure to get their input on past events as well as benefits that they would like to see you offer for sponsors in the future.
#2 – Put Together a Host Committee for Your Charity Events
One of the best ways to find new sponsors for your events is by setting up a host committee. Host committees focus on fundraising, not logistics. Good host committees help you by reaching in to their own personal networks to help you find sponsors, sell tickets, find silent auction items, etc. You should be setting up a host committee for each of your charity events, no matter how small or large the event is.
Be sure that your host committee members know that they should be focused on fundraising. Then, give them all of the materials and support they need to successfully carry out their work. You can also set up a separate volunteer committee to handle the logistics of the event, such as set up, clean up, and manning the registration table.
#3 – Mission + Benefits = Sponsorship Success
Businesses, individuals, families and other non-profits sponsor your charity events for two reasons: first, because they believe in your mission, and second, because of the benefits you offer to sponsors. These reasons are complementary, and it is important to focus on both as you approach your prospective event sponsors. Let’s take a look at each:
First, sponsors donate because they believe in your mission. Many non-profits completely focus on benefits, without casting a vision for their sponsors. This is a mistake, even for business sponsors. Remember, businesses are run by people – and those people want to get behind a cause they believe in. Don’t be afraid to get emotional and talk about your work and the people you serve as you solicit sponsorships for your event.
Second, sponsors donate because you offer compelling benefits as part of your sponsorship packages. Your charity events should feature sponsor benefits at different levels, with larger sponsors receiving more benefits than lower level donors. These sponsorship benefits can include tickets or tables for the event, and special marketing and recognition opportunities such as the donor’s name or logo on the invitations, on signage at the event, on event handouts, and much more. Be creative, and offer benefits that resonate with your donor base.
#4 – Reach New Fundraising Event Sponsors Early
When reaching out to new prospective sponsors, it is important to start early in the process. You don’t want the first time the sponsor hears about your organization or event to be when you call to ask for a gift.
In my experience, the best way to approach new sponsors for your charity events is with a multistep approach. Start by sending the new sponsor a letter that talks about your organization, your mission, and your event, and tells the person you will be following up by phone to talk more and answer any questions they may have. Then, follow up with a call to talk more about your work and the upcoming event. At this point, if they seem interested, you can make an ask. Otherwise, you can invite them for a tour of your facility and / or cultivate them further before making an ask.