Sponsorship provides key support for Australia Day celebrations.
Securing sponsorship for events can sometimes be difficult and as each event and sponsor are different, there’s not really a single formula that can be used to find and keep sponsors. However, here are some tips, guidelines and examples to help you in seeking sponsorship.
What is sponsorship?
A good rule of thumb is to treat sponsorship as a business partnership, with firm outcomes required by both sides.
You must have a clear idea of the nature of the event you are hoping to find sponsorship for. You’ll need to do some careful thinking, decision making and preparation so that you are appropriately prepared for the invitation to consider or propose sponsorship (more details about possible events are in the Events ideas tool.)
Businesses are reluctant to provide cash, goods or services unless they see a benefit for themselves. Fortunately, these benefits aren’t always tangible and that is why many organisations are willing to sponsor events that they see as worthwhile for the community.
It’s also important to remember that once you get a sponsor, you need to work hard to keep them. A happy sponsor can be a useful ambassador for your event and can help you attract other supporters from your community.
Guidelines for sponsorship
Preparation before approaching a potential sponsor
- Outline your event particulars—who you want to attend, how long it will run etc
- Develop a budget and outline areas where you may need help—remember that goods and services are a form of sponsorship too, and some sponsors may find it easier to provide goods and services than a monetary contribution.
- Brainstorm with organisers/committee members what you may be able to offer the sponsor in return for their contributions—you will need to think creatively.
- Discuss the target markets of your potential sponsors and how you can help them to achieve their goals/reach their target markets through their engagement with Australia Day celebrations.
- Actively establish and make known your need for sponsorship—this will mean networking, attending community functions, engaging in, even initiating discussions of Australia Day events and issues, suggesting synergies. This active role may yield some unexpected expressions of interest in sponsorship (e.g. the sponsor may ask: How can we help? Is there anything we can do? We are very interested in keeping the elderly active).
Modify your preparation (above) as needed, after the initial meetings or phone conversations with the potential sponsor.
Approaching a potential sponsor
- Your initial objective is to make an opportunity to speak with the potential sponsor.
- Two-way communication (e.g. face-to-face meeting or phone conversation) at the outset is definitely the best way of beginning communication. It will have a much bigger impact than a letter.
- It is important in the first meeting that you don’t go in with a full proposal, but that you provide a clear and brief account of the opportunity.
- In the first meeting, ask potential sponsors what they are looking for with sponsorship. One of your goals is to get information about what might be of interest to them. This information may help tailor your ideas on mutual benefits and will help to develop a sponsorship agreement of relevance to the sponsor’s business or image.
- You need to have specific ideas of where sponsors’ money or services will go. Sponsors will ask for this information.
- ‘Fit’ is essential for a company considering a sponsorship. You need to identify possible link/s between the work and focus of the company and your planned Australia Day events. For example, links could be: health; wellbeing; quality; local produce; community welfare; supporting youth; serving a specific section of the community for years.
- Check potential sponsors web sites or corporate publications for the criteria by which they consider sponsorship, any existing sponsorships and partnerships they have, any community involvement they already undertake and what their brand ‘values’ are.
- If the first contact is by phone, you could send a follow up ‘teaser’ to the sponsor to elicit interest. This could be a simple but effective brochure or one page outline explaining why you would like to meet or, even better, what’s in it for them. Ideally the potential sponsor will be curious to know more. This is not a formal proposal but will provide the potential sponsor with an idea of the event and some possibilities.