How to Land Sponsors for Your Fundraiser (Step-by-Step Guide)

Wouldn’t you love to tell donors that every dollar raised at your fundraising event will go directly to fund your school, church, or charity? This means having every dollar spent on the event covered by a sponsorship or in-kind donation.

This is possible, regardless of the size of your organization or gala.

Many of your supporters can’t attend your auction but would welcome the opportunity to sponsor one or more experiences and enjoy special recognition.

Here are five steps to get sponsors for your gala.

Step 1: List Your Potential Sponsors

Don’t leave anyone off the list since you can always edit it later. Here are some places to get started:

Local Businesses

Many businesses are never asked to help because their business is not one that could donate an item appropriate for auction. However, any of these professionals could benefit from their logo going on your marketing materials.

Consider:

  • Doctors
  • Lawyers
  • Accountants
  • Dentists
  • Financial Planners
  • Bankers
  • Real Estate Agents
  • Mortgage Companies

Membership and Social Clubs

Especially at lower sponsorship tiers, some club members may band together to pitch in for a sponsorship.

Rotary, Chamber of Commerce, and Lions Club are membership clubs to add to your list. Also consider any sports and social clubs with whom you have a connection.

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Supporters In Absentia

Perhaps they are busy, out-of-town, or simply don’t want to come, but they love your cause. List your supporters who RSVP’d “no” who could be convinced to become a sponsor.

Step 2: List Things to Sponsor

Anything that can have a logo on it is ripe for sponsorship. Here are some things to sponsor:

  • Items for your auction or raffle
  • Venue
  • Catering
  • Valet
  • Giveaways/Prizes
  • Matching Donation
  • Event Landing Page or App
  • Photo Booth
  • Signage
  • Swag
  • Email and other communications
  • Various items at your golf event: holes, scorecards, cart signs, banners

You can bundle various items at a sponsorship tier or sell space on each item individually.

Step 3: Create a Prospectus

It is important to make your prospectus look professional, especially when approaching businesses. It will be representative in the manager’s mind of the kind of promotion they will receive.

Tips for Your Prospectus

  • If you are targeting a large business for your title sponsor, consider a special prospectus that excludes the lower tier options.
  • Quantify the promotional reach of their sponsorship (e.g., how many households will receive the flyer, how many attendees, are the attendees target customers).
  • Mention that the sponsorship is tax deductible, and list any additional benefits from sponsorship, such as complimentary tickets or entry into your golf event.

Step 4: Make the Ask

Now that you have a list of people to ask and your prospectus ready, it is time to make the ask. Where possible, make the ask in person and follow these tips:

Be Specific

When you speak with a potential sponsor, tell them exactly what sponsorship tier you think would be good for them and why.

Be realistic – don’t ask the local bakery to be your $100k title sponsor. Though, choose a sponsorship option at the upper end of their price tier as a starting point.

Be Thorough

Don’t assume someone will say no – ask everyone on your list. You will be surprised at who says yes. You’ll also enjoy referrals to people and businesses you hadn’t considered.

Remove Barriers

Pre-fill any forms for potential sponsors. Never ask a sponsor to fill out paperwork.

Don’t Apologize

You are NOT imposing. You are honoring businesses and supporters by asking for their help. People want to help. They just need to know how.

Step 5: Show Appreciation for Your Sponsors

Showing appreciation to sponsors is important to make sure they donate again next year.

At a minimum, meet all of the commitments you made to sponsors regarding promotion. Respect, of course, any sponsors who wish to remain anonymous.

Where possible, exceed your commitments. Here are some ways:

  • Encourage attendees to patronize sponsoring businesses and thank them for supporting their cause.
  • Ask the sponsor if they would like to attend the event. If so, get them a ticket. If running a golf scramble, provide a foursome for their business – their employees will appreciate the perk!
  • Thank your sponsors before, during and after your event. Phone calls and hand-written notes are preferred to emails.

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Alex McDonald is the Director of Customer Experience for TravelPledge, the benefit auction’s connection to generous business owners. Alex manages TravelPledge’s content strategy and customer onboarding. He is passionate about helping nonprofits exceed their auction goals.

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