First and foremost, you’re going to need to do some serious research and communication. Scour newspapers, magazines, and periodicals to find a company that either needs a PR boost or has funds set aside for sponsorships. Don’t limit yourself to Fortune 500 companies; local companies and neighborhood associations are often willing to help local fundraisers and events. Reach out to board members, clients, friends, and family. Side note: be sure that the companies to whom you reach out share your organization’s/event’s values.
Once you’ve targeted specific companies, reach out to either their Marketing Officer or Corporate Responsibility Officer. Note: you should be contacting companies 4-6 months before your event.
Most organizations take sponsorship requests through the mail, although some companies are beginning to embed forms on their website, similar to a donation request. To learn how to write a sponsorship-request letter, click here. After you’ve mailed your request, make a follow-up phone call to your contact about a week later. During that phone conversation, determine your next step, as these will vary from company to company.
Many events have sponsors at multiple sponsorship levels, i.e. Silver, Gold, and Platinum Sponsorships. Your organization can also choose to have table sponsors, room sponsors, and VIP area sponsors. Don’t limit yourself to traditional sponsorships–get creative!
A crucial part of retaining a company’s sponsorship for other upcoming events is taking the time to thank each sponsor. The American Cancer Society put together a great checklist of Sponsorship Recognition Tips that you can apply to your own organization.