Sponsorship strategies

During the Demo Day online workshop, there was talk about how to approach local businesses for sponsor events by providing things like coffee & food. Does anyone have templates to share, or a list of strategies?

Here is a link to the prospectus we created for NC Open Pass (our civic tech event series by Open Raleigh). Keep in mind that this is an evolution of 6-7 years of event planning from our team, so this might be too much for those doing a first-time, single-day or less event. But there’s a lot of good details in there to get you thinking about what things sponsors might be interested in getting in return for their donation.

Regarding approaching sponsors, I would recommend looking for partners that share your mission and organizations that might overlap with your audience. Look at other events in your area and see what companies are sponsoring things.

Don’t be afraid to ask for free things, i.e. event space. You can always offer in-kind sponsorships. Basically a cash equivalent to one of your sponsorship levels (gold, silver, etc.).

If you’re just starting out, you can always design your sponsorship opportunities around certain items such as sponsoring lunch or being the T-shirt sponsor or the venue sponsor.

Sometimes, getting the first sponsor is the toughest. Having a key company sponsor can help attract other sponsors. Other potential sponsors will see Company X sponsoring your event and then that legitimizes your event, making it easier for you to make a case why they should sponsor.

We also found that asking for sponsorships for multiple events was hurting our efforts, so we created the event series which allows us to ask for higher amounts, and sponsors get more exposure to multiple events. We try to do most of our fundraising from Jan-Aug and it allows us to not only build up our budget, but it also allows to get most of the funding out of the way before the event happens–so we have the cash to spend for the event.

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