Posted on July 25, 2013 · Posted in General

Corporate sponsorship for community events, particularly in sports and the arts, is something we’re all quite used to. It’s common to see a film festival or a marathon sponsored by numerous companies, often with a “naming rights” sponsor and several smaller sponsors, all of whom are investing in the event to create a positive association with the event in question, as well as generating additional publicity and goodwill for their company. Sometimes the acquisition of a sponsor doesn’t necessarily fit the event, as was the case with the Brisbane International Film Festival a few years back, when one of their sponsors was the construction company who were demolishing the lovely old downtown cinema that had previously been the main location for the festival. The building company even ran an advertisement in the festival brochure, likening the construction of a new building to watching a great film, much to the amusement of the festivalgoer’s. Perhaps the film festival needed the sponsorship and so didn’t have the option of being too selective, which can often be the case when it comes to acquiring sponsors for an event. While of course you would want sponsors that are commensurate with the mood and values of your event, but how do you go about finding sponsors who are willing to open their wallets?

Matching Your Event to a Sponsor

The idea of sponsorship is actually quite varied. Some sponsors will give you operating funds to actually host the event; whereas media and promotional sponsors can give you press coverage, or even items to be won/auctioned off at the event, if you’re organizing a fete or charity event. A case study of comparable events in the area can be of great use- look at companies who have previously shown a willingness to sponsor local events and approach them (and also their direct competitors). Depending on the type of event you’re envisaging, it might also be necessary to do the same with media and promotional sponsors.

Making Your Event Appealing to Sponsors

What do you have to actually offer a potential sponsor? Charity events can automatically create a sense of goodwill for the sponsor, as it gives them an impression of benevolence and even generosity in the eyes of your event attendees and consumers in general. If you’re running an event that has no charity links, it can be a bit more of a “hard sell” to market your event to sponsors. When approaching sponsors, talk about potential media exposure, and of course the prominence with which they’ll be associated with the event, such as advertisements in any kind of event brochure, and the exposure of their logo at the event itself. Larger companies have entire personnel who manage their community relations, including such things as sponsorship, so don’t be afraid to aim high!

And Finally

It can be a bit disheartening to be turned down by a potential sponsor, so it’s a good idea to write a list in order of preference and work your way through it. Be careful not to approach a sponsor that might be a competitor of a sponsor you’ve already acquired, as this will alienate both companies and may deter them from future sponsorship. Remember that sponsors will expect to be featured prominently at the event, but luckily they can help you with this, as they are likely to already have promotional material such as brochures and vinyl banners for you to display.