In this blog, we’ll show you how to make a winning event sponsorship pitch, write killer sponsorship emails and offer benefits that will have sponsors line up to work with you. Get ready to take your event up a notch!
What is event sponsorship?
Event sponsors are the ones who fund your event in exchange for the opportunity to capitalize on the footfall of your event. Typically, event sponsorship includes a cash contribution, but it can also include food or a venue as part of the arrangement.
Partnering with the right sponsors can be the key to your event’s success. The funds and services they provide can help you host a grand event on a shoestring budget.
However, partnering with the right sponsors is an art. So let’s dive deeper and explore the types of event sponsorship and how to find, pick, and win the right event sponsors to back your future events.
What are the four types of event sponsorships?
Financial Event Sponsorship
A sponsor offers money in exchange for advertising their brand, hosting product demos, or setting up booths at the event. This kind of sponsorship helps you raise capital that you can use to deliver mesmerizing and memorable experiences to your attendees.
In-kind sponsorships are simple. Instead of money, sponsors offer goods or services. This can help reduce the event’s budget as you might not need to spend on items like food, logistics, or entertainment.
Some sponsors offer promotion and marketing services for your event, which can drastically dial up the reach and sign-ups for your event.
Venue/Virtual Event Sponsorship
The venue or virtual event platform can greatly influence attendance and engagement. Look for sponsors that can offer an ideal location or virtual event platforms with ample features to make your event memorable and meaningful for your attendees.
As an event planner, you may distribute prizes to incentivize attendees to attend and stay engaged at your event. Prize sponsors can offer prizes like tickets to an exotic destination or their own products.
For example, airlines like Lufthansa might be the prize sponsor of an event and offer a one-way ticket to an exotic location. This way, Lufthansa gets more business, and new customers, while you get an opportunity to motivate your attendees to participate more actively in your event.
A large chunk of the budget is spent promoting the event via multiple social media channels. Seeking media sponsorships from influencers and media houses might save you time and money.
If you don’t have a budget for marketing and promotions, a promotional partner would be one of your ideal sponsors.
Now that we are done with the types of event sponsorships, let’s get on to the most important question – how to get sponsorship for an event?
So let’s dive in.
Five simple steps to get sponsorship for your event
The way to approach it is first to figure out the type of sponsorships you need. Once that’s done, you can head forward to find, pitch, and lock in the right sponsors for your events.
So let’s discuss all of these stages in detail:
1) Identify the type of sponsorship you need
In the early sections of this blog, we talked about the types of event sponsorships. Figuring out what kind of sponsorship you need can save a lot of time going forward and onboard the sponsors that add the most value to your events.
To figure out the type of sponsorship you need, start by asking a few questions.
Who is my audience?
Your event is about the attendees first and then about the goals of your business and your sponsors’ interests. If your attendees have a great time, good things will follow.
What type of products, entertainment, and services would be a good fit for my audience?
Sponsors can either offer you cash to plan your event or offer some kind of services, swag, prizes, or products. So when you know what appeals to your audience, you’ll be able to search in the right direction.
What kind of services do I need to fill the talent gaps?
Even the most amazing event-planning teams can use a helping hand. That’s where in-kind sponsors that offer services can come in.
For example, if you understand that marketing is not your strength, then you can partner with a media sponsor with a broad reach. So, they can help your event reach the right people while your team can focus on building a delightful experience for the attendees.
2) Find event sponsors
Now that you know what kind of sponsors you want to associate with, it’s time to find them.
So let’s see how and where to find sponsors for your event.
Find global companies with big marketing budgets
Hunting down the names to put on your list of potential event sponsors can be a difficult task. But making a list of big companies that might align with your event’s vision is a good place to start.
These companies have big marketing budgets, and they’ll be more than happy to invest in the event that can bring them more mindshare and bolster their brand’s positioning in the hearts and minds of people.
Find who sponsored similar events in the past
Giddy up! It’s time to research. Find out who sponsored similar events in your domain, and put the companies that resonate with your mission on the list.
Find out any strategic industry players
Can you think of any companies in your landscape that could benefit from associating with you or your event? Thinking beyond event sponsorship opportunities and considering a long-term partnership could be an excellent way to go around it. So find some players in your industry that match your vision and compliments your business.
Leverage online tools to find sponsorship opportunities
Both event planners seeking event sponsorship opportunities and sponsors searching for events commonly encounter this problem. Fortunately, there are now a few dependable solutions available, such as:
- SponsorPark, which is ideal for corporate sponsors and events in the arts, entertainment, sports, festivals, and special causes categories.
- SponsorMyEvent, which is used by well-known brands such as Forbes and TEDx as a search engine.
- OpenSponsorship, a platform specifically catering to athletes, teams, and sports-related events.
- SponsorPitch, a tool that enables you to search their database, use their CRM, and export sponsor data.
3) Shortlist the right sponsors
Now that you know what type of sponsors you need, it’s now time to find them and shortlist them.
Spray and pray never works while seeking event sponsorship as your sponsorship proposals need to be tuned and personalized to the company you’re reaching out to.
While you can reach out to every and any sponsor that may come to your mind, shortlisting the top ones that align with your core values can save a lot of time and effort.
So here’s how to score your potential event sponsors:
Is there an overlap between you and your sponsor’s target audience?
If yes, then they should definitely be considered. Not only does this make a solid ground for mutual benefit, but it also makes it a lot easier to work in tandem with each other.
Do they have the resources to contribute to your success?
Having an overlap within your target audiences is great, but if they do not have the time, money, or bandwidth to contribute to your event’s success, then you’re better off without them.
Do they have an online presence?
When it comes to taking your event to the right audience, nothing beats a social media post by the right sponsors with the right audience and a wide reach.
Partnering with sponsors that have a huge amount of followers can help you promote your event and reach the right audience for free. All you need is a tweet or a LinkedIn post from your sponsor’s handle.
4) Pitch your event (Ask for event sponsorship)
When pitching your event to potential sponsors, it’s important to remember that you’re not just asking for their money – you’re offering them a unique opportunity to reach a highly engaged audience. Start by highlighting the benefits of sponsoring your events, such as increased brand recognition and the chance to connect with potential customers.
Then, make sure to emphasize your event’s unique selling points, whether that’s a star-studded lineup or a one-of-a-kind experience.
Finally, be sure to personalize your pitch and show why your event is the perfect fit for the sponsor in question. Remember, a great pitch is equal parts persuasion and personality!
Some key bullet points to include in your pitch:
- The date, time, and location of the event
- The expected attendance and demographic makeup of the audience
- The unique selling points of the event, such as a standout lineup or special features
- The benefits of sponsoring the event, such as increased brand exposure and the chance to connect with potential customers
- The specific sponsorship packages available and their associated costs
5) Lock in with an official event sponsorship agreement
In the world of event sponsorship, a well-documented agreement can make all the difference. It can hold both parties accountable to fulfill their duties and promises and act as a single source of truth to resolve any conflicts and set a stage for better, more meaningful partnerships.
Here are some common elements you might expect to see in a lock-in sponsorship contract:
Term: The contract will specify the length of the lock-in period, which could be a few months to several years.
- Scope: The contract should precisely include the scope of responsibilities and duties of the parties involved. It might also include the exact services and resources that the sponsored party should be entitled to.
- Payment: The contract should specify the agreed amount and timing of payments to the sponsored entity in exchange for promoting the sponsor’s brand, services, or products.
- Exclusivity (optional): Some event sponsors would want exclusive rights for multiple aspects like logo placements, prohibiting or limiting the use of competitors’ products or services.
- Termination: The contract should specify the exact conditions that can lead to the termination of the contract by either party.
- Intellectual Property Rights: The contract should specify who owns the intellectual property rights associated with the sponsorship, such as trademarks and logos.
- Obligations: The contract should outline the specific obligations of the sponsor and the sponsored entity, including any marketing or advertising requirements.
How to ask for event sponsorship: A deep dive into a winning event sponsorship proposal template
Step – 1: Research your potential event sponsors
The more you know about the goals and core values of your potential sponsors, the better would be your event sponsorship proposal. You’d be able to map the benefits of your event to the solutions to their most pressing needs and bolster the chances of a fruitful partnership.
But how do you get to know your event sponsors better? It’s simple! Start by asking these questions:
- What are their business goals and objectives that this event can exactly solve?
- Who is their target audience, and how does that overlap with the target audience of the event?
- Why do you think they can add value to your event with their partnership?
- Have they sponsored any events in the past? If yes, then how was their experience, and how can your event match or surpass the benchmark achieved by the previously sponsored events?
Step-2: Briefly introduce your event and its potential
In the previous step, you researched your potential event sponsors and learned about their goals, target audience, and pain points.
In this step, it’s time to start giving your event a face. So, how do you do that? Follow the Who, What, and Where framework to introduce your event.
Answer questions like
- What is the positioning statement of the event?
- What do you aim to achieve with this event?
- What is the name of the event?
- What’s your plan to make it successful? (Here, you can mention the list of activities, entertainment, speaker line-up, and tentative themes and topics you’re planning for your event.)
Your potential sponsors would like to know where you plan to host your event. This can help them gauge the potential engagement they can get at your event. If it’s a cool venue that encourages attendees to participate, network, and explore, your event sponsors would be more than happy to bet on that.
Include pictures of the venue to get them excited to be a part of the event.
This is the most important part of your event sponsors. They want to know your target audience, potential reach, and the details of your crowd.
This is the right time to mention any VIPs, decision makers, press, or influencers who would tentatively be invited or sign-up for the event.
Other than that, chalk out an audience persona for your event sponsors. And explain how your audience is a good match for their brand.
Step-3: Explain the benefits (They need to know what’s in it for them?)
At this step, your event sponsors already know your event’s potential. And they know the kind of crowd you can get as well. So now, they’re interested to know how you will help them make the best out of it.
Offering value to your sponsors is all about maximizing their interactions with attendees and helping them achieve their objectives.
In short, if you could offer them opportunities to gain maximum exposure, make new leads, and meaningfully engage with the attendees, it’ll help sweeten the deal.
To break it down for you, draft your value proposition around the two main pillars – brand awareness and audience engagement.
Provide more value by creating opportunities to showcase their brand through sponsor pages, logo placements, branded spaces, notifications, and placements in email campaigns.
Let’s face it – the best part of any event is the people you meet! Sponsors are eager to find meaningful ways to connect, engage, and build meaningful relations with attendees.
You can propose opportunities to engage the audience, like booths, q&a, dedicated sessions, and happy hours.
Step 4: Include social proof, testimonials, and previous achievements.
Including social proof in your event sponsorship proposals is like having a friend vouch for you – it adds credibility and trustworthiness to your pitch, making it more likely that potential sponsors will want to support your event.
So, what can you include as social proof?
- Photos from your last event: Include images from your last event, especially the ones where your attendees are having fun and connecting with each other.
- Social shares about your event: Pick up the posts that talk highly about your event. Any user-generated content will be an amazing addition here.
- Testimonials: A testimonial from your previous partners/sponsors can help build trust. Include an ROI report from your previous events, and showcase how they can get the same or better ROI.
Step 5: Ready with an awesome pitch? It’s time to ask for event sponsorship
Now that you’re ready to rock with an awesome pitch in hand, it’s time for you to approach potential event sponsors.
- Start with an email: TL;DR is your worst enemy when it comes to emails. So, don’t try to pitch your entire event with an initial email. Try to set up a phone call or a meeting first, so you can have time to discuss and pitch your vision 1:1. However, what you can include is some context to how amazing this opportunity can be for their brand and their pipeline.
- Set up a meeting: Suit up, prepare your pitch, and be ready for the questions. When you end up in a meeting, don’t make everything about your event. Begin by asking some questions first.
Here are some questions to ask in your event sponsorship sales meeting:
- Who is your ideal customer?
- What do your customers do before they buy?
- What are your revenue/sales goals for the company this year?
- What do you like to see in an event sponsorship proposal?
- I think we are a great match. Would you like me to send you a detailed event sponsorship proposal?
- Send your event proposal over an email: Great job. Now that you’ve built a relationship over your one-on-one meeting, make a custom event proposal keeping the information you received during the meeting in mind.
How to write a letter asking for sponsorship for an event?
You’d need to send out 3 letters in sequence to seal the deal. First, a letter or email to set up a meeting with them, the second letter should include a custom event proposal, and the third letter should be a closing thank you email for your sponsor.
Email #1 – Ask them to set up a one-on-one call with you
This is the first email that you’ll send out to your potential sponsors. The goal of the email is to convince them to book a meeting with you, where you can then understand their needs and goals and customize your event proposal for them.
Hi [Sponsor Name] 👋,
I hope you’re doing awesome! My name is [Your Name], and I am reaching out to you today because we have an incredible opportunity that I believe would be a perfect fit for your brand.
[Insert event name] is an upcoming event we are organizing for [insert event purpose]. Our goal is to create a fun, engaging experience for everyone involved while bringing industry leaders to speak and educate our audiences on the topic [insert the theme].
To make this event a success, we are seeking partners like you to help us bring our vision to life. We believe that your brand’s mission and values align with our event’s purpose, and I would love to see our partnership work out.
In exchange for your support, we can offer a variety of exciting benefits, such as [insert sponsorship benefits]. However, that’s not all that we have to offer.
Before I send out an event proposal, I would love to hop on a call with you to understand your business goals and needs and how this event can help you achieve them.
I believe that your brand could get immense value with this event as it can help you garner quality engagement with your ideal customers.
I am attaching a link to my calendar. Feel free to book a meeting with me.
See you soon!
Email #2 – Make a custom pitch, and clearly ask for event sponsorship
This is the email you send to your potential event sponsors after you’ve discussed their requirements over a meeting. Don’t forget to customize your event sponsorship proposal according to the answers you get during the meeting.
Map your event’s outcomes with their goals, and you’ll ensure the probability of having them onboard with you.
Here’s the email template to ask for event sponsorship after the meeting:
Hi [Sponsor Name] 👋,
It was great to meet you [mention the day of the meeting] earlier this month.
After understanding your business goals, and fully realizing which opportunities at our event can help you maximize the ROI for you, I have drafted an event proposal that mentions all the perks, facilities, and opportunities we can create for you at our upcoming event.
To make sure this event is a roaring success, we would need the following from you.
[Mention the services/funds]
So, let’s make this event a resounding success for both of us together.
Looking forward to hearing back from you. Thank you 🙂
Email #3 – Thank you letter for your event sponsors
Once you’ve secured the event sponsorship, there’s one last step in the communication process. And it’s about thanking your event sponsors!
Dear [Sponsor Name],
I wanted to take a moment to thank you for your generous sponsorship of [Event Name]. Your support means the world to us, and we are thrilled to have you as a partner for our upcoming event.
Your [Insert Sponsorship level] sponsorship is going to help us create an amazing experience for our attendees, and we can’t wait to showcase your brand to our audience. Your investment in our mission [Mission Statement] is truly inspiring, and we are grateful for your belief in our vision.
We are lucky to have a sponsor like you who shares our values, and we are excited to see what we can achieve together. Thank you once again for your generosity and support. Let’s make this event a huge success!
How to build your event sponsorship packages?
Event sponsorship packages allow you to onboard a variety of event sponsors as they reduce the barrier to entry and offer compelling incentives to the potential sponsors to upgrade their package when they can.
Ideally, event sponsorship packages are tiered, so they allow different sponsors to contribute in different capacities.
Here are a few tips for building compelling event sponsorship packages.
#1 Build event sponsorship levels and tiers based on branding, audience engagement, and exclusivity
Your event sponsorship package should include at least two tiers offering different benefits in terms of branding, audience engagement, and exclusive opportunities.
Here’s an example of tiers for your sponsorship package:
This can include some basic branding opportunities like logo placements in the sponsor section of your event’s website, a short sponsor video during the sessions, a link to the website, or marketing collateral on the reception.
Everything in tier 1 + some more branding options and an opportunity for a sponsored Q&A round to build more brand recall among the audience. You can also include a branded message by the sponsors between the sessions and offer them a table at the virtual/physical lounge to interact with attendees.
Everything in tier one and two plus exclusive opportunities to place sponsors’ logos, messages, and booths to engage and build relationships with the audience.
Now that you know what event sponsorship levels look like, let’s move on to the next tip – creating unique opportunities to offer sponsors for an event.
Here’s a sponsorship package template
Logo on event registration page
Social Media Shoutouts
Pre-event giveaways and sponsored contests
Sponsor speaker promotion
Live Brand Exposure
Logo placement in the mobile app notifications and event app
Sponsor logo on polls, and Q&A
Links to sponsors’ marketing collateral like brochures and handbooks
Branded message between the sessions
Exclusive branded broadcast message
Sponsored session with Q&A
Sponsored contests and quizzes with giveaways
Challenges where attendees need to interact with sponsor’s booths to earn points
Post-event brand exposure
Sponsor logo or a link to sponsor’s website in post-event surveys.
Embedding sponsor links into the post-event content hub
#2 Create unique and exclusive opportunities for your sponsors
When it comes to event sponsorships, exclusivity and uniqueness matter for a sponsor. Getting exclusive opportunities to brand a part of your event means distraction-free brand exposure and better chances of connecting with the audience.
Here are a few event sponsorship examples and ideas of exclusive opportunities you can create for your sponsors:
- An exclusively branded virtual session
- Branded notifications on the event app
- An address by the CEO or the founders of the company
- Sponsor logo on the event swag and merchandise
- Branded polls and Q&A sessions
#3 Make your sponsorship page worth a look!
Beautifully designed sponsors pages offer higher brand recall for sponsors. This way, it would be easier for you to pitch your event and convince sponsors to get on board.
You can also have a sponsorship page with a small but impactful description of all your sponsors. For premium tiers, you can also offer your sponsors an option to showcase their brand’s story to connect more meaningfully with the audience.
Here’s an example of a beautiful sponsor page by Andrew McClintThreeck
Three great examples of event sponsorship packages
Amazon’s Reinvent is an amazing event sponsorship example to learn from. They offer a clear, and detailed event sponsorship prospectus that explains how sponsors can get the most from the event.
So, what did they offer to their sponsors?
- Partner lead breakout sessions
- Exclusive 1:1 engagement opportunities with customers and prospects
- Sponsor booths with logos
- Sponsor branding at the event
- Access to registered attendee contact information
- Resource Center (ERC) and ongoing planning support
- Marketing promotional opportunities like sharing event marketing materials to amplify partner branding to boost event ROI
Virtual reality installations by Dell at the 3rd annual VR conference
Tech companies are always on the hunt for opportunities to flaunt their fabulous products at events, whether they’re fledgling startups or seasoned industry titans.
At the 3rd annual VR conference, event organizers took it up a notch, where they had Dell set up their VR technology to offer a jaw-dropping experience to the attendees. As a result, the event saw massive spikes in engagement, and Dell got to showcase their VR muscle to their target audience.
Well, let’s just say it was a match made in sponsorship heaven!
Booking.com at The Women in Tech
Booking.com, the tech giant, rocked the Women in Tech track at Web Summit, the world’s biggest tech conference, as its official sponsor in 2017. And, god, did they do it in style!
They attached their brand with a message – the gender disparity in STEM roles needs to end!
They showcased how they contributed to the solution by empowering women to pursue tech with their mentor programs and supporting female-led startups and launching award programs to recognize the women doing an amazing job in tech.
By taking this bold step, Booking.com drove home the message that they’re all about gender diversity and gender-balanced workspaces and permanently placed their brand’s name in the hearts of event attendees.
7 Event sponsorship ideas to offer your sponsors more value
1) Sponsored tracks and sessions
Tracks and sessions are vital components of any virtual event. Offering your prospective sponsors a piece of the sessions or a separate track would allow you to make compelling proposals.
Overall, it would increase your chances of getting event sponsorships.
Sponsors would like the opportunity to share their content during the main track or in a dedicated session. Providing the sponsors with the space would offer a more excellent value and boost the mutual ROI of the event.
2) Sponsored entertainment breaks for in-person and virtual events
Breaks are the perfect time to offer sponsors branded entertainment and add value to your event. Try live music or a trivia game to make it fun for everyone and give your sponsors some marketing love.
3) Physical and virtual photo booths for your event sponsor
Social photo booths are a must-have at events. Attendees can snap pics, create GIFs, and share them with your event hashtag, making it the ultimate social content. And with a sponsored photo booth, you can level up the exposure for your sponsors. It’s a win-win!
For virtual events, you can set up virtual photo booths with an app like Snapbar to offer more value to your sponsors.
4) Branded waiting rooms for your in-person and virtual event sponsors
By placing brand logos strategically throughout the waiting room with their messaging, an event sponsor can make a lasting impression and create a memorable experience for attendees. This also ensures that their logo is seen by attendees at multiple points during the event.
You have two options: either keep this event sponsorship idea as an exclusive perk or offer it to sponsors in the gold or platinum tiers in your event sponsorship packages.
5) Premium sponsor-branded swag
Gifts and swags are a great way to build lasting connections and improve brand recall. Imagine gifting someone a duffle bag with a sponsor logo on it. Not only will it remind them of your event and the sponsor every time they’ll use the bag, but it’ll also allow them to build deeper gratitude and connection with your sponsors and your brand.
6) Opportunity to host an address by your sponsor’s leadership team
What’s a better way for an event sponsor to connect with their audience than to address them directly and engage with them on stage during a short session at your event? And if the sponsor’s leadership team is involved in delivering their brand’s message, it can add even more value. This sponsorship idea is perfect for increasing brand recall and improving the sponsor’s ROI, and it works equally well for in-person and virtual events.
7) Sponsored VIP experiences
Offer sponsors the chance to provide VIP experiences to attendees, such as backstage tours, meet-and-greets with speakers or performers, or exclusive access to certain areas of the event.
Event sponsorship can be the key to your event’s success. With a larger pool of resources, and services at hand, you can create memorable experiences for your attendees that bring big results for your business, and your sponsors.
However, you need to onboard the right sponsors that align with your core values, and vision. To do so, you need to conduct thorough research of the landscape, and prepare an awesome pitch that effectively communicates value of your event to potential sponsors.
Remember, when asking for event sponsorship, it’s important to set up a one-on-one meeting to know more about the goals of your sponsors, and then leverage the information collected during the meeting to build a custom event sponsorship proposal that fits their needs.
Offering sponsor tiers can help you onboard multiple sponsors to work in tandem and contribute to the grand success of your event. Don’t forget to create unique and exclusive opportunities for your event sponsors.
Lastly, provide your event sponsors with the tools and framework to measure their ROI from the event. This way, you can lay the foundation for a long-term partnership, instead of one-off opportunities.