Corporate Sponsorship a win-win.

Corporate sponsorship… Not even an image for this one, I have to keep it super dry and business-like. I don’t think that event organizers take this seriously enough. Remember: your event should be paid for before a single ticket is sold.  Use your fixed expenses to determine your minimum sponsorship goal. If the goal seems daunting either slash your expenses or take a cold, hard look at your event. Friendraisers are great, but not if they cost tons of staff time, and you don’t have clear goals for follow up. But that is another post. Here is the reality of what it takes to make corporate sponsorship a winwin.

14 months before event.

  • Seek media sponsorships and ask for numbers of impressions/dollar values for ad space provided, if you can solicit high enough media value companies can sponsor your event from their marketing rather than foundation budget.
  • Clarify your event mission and demographics and establish sponsor targets ranked by historical connection, alignment of their offerings with your mission and demographics, and personal connections within your organization.

12 months before event

  • Set sponsor levels, with a tangible list of sponsor benefits. Obvious benefits include logos on promotional materials, make sure to include print run numbers, your audience demographics, and growth rate if this is a multi-year event.
  • Establish and list how many sponsors at each level you will have, and whether the levels are cash, in-kind or trade
  • Promote the higher levels with additional presence at your event, and brainstorm that might look and feel like.  A demo station for a new product, supplying guests with branded totes, providing logo hospitality baskets for the restrooms, supplying samples or coupons for goody bags. Allow them to cut your costs with etched wine glasses as give aways, or having balloons and facepainting at a family event.
  • Assign a board member or volunteer to each sponsor prospect, set up pitch meetings, and bring your ED, founder, or board chair to all of the highest level asks.

11-8 months before the event

  • Write and execute sponsor contracts. These can be online or on paper, but having both sides agree to terms is worth the effort.
  • Begin board and volunteer sponsor education…each event volunteer should be able to name all top level sponsors and their business mission statement. Board members should be using sponsor services and businesses. This is all in the name of a winwin. If you can’t show enthusiasm for their offerings, consider that they are not a good fit for your organization.

8-2 months before the event

  • Ongoing communication with sponsors about event development.
  • Share any of your organizations programming triumphs/ challenges overcome outside of your event.
  • Promote any intitiatives your sponsors may be engaging in to your twitter/fb/email lists.
  • Solicit sponsor thank you gifts as you do your asks for auction items, and in kind sponsorships this year.
  • Remind board members and volunteers to make themselves known when they are taking their business to sponsor’s stores, etc.

2 months before the event

  • Visit or call each mid and top level sponsor to ask how things are going, answer any questions, re-visit any event exposure allowable at their level. Share any press and PR initiatives to date, and coordinate these last pitches with their PR and marketing teams.
  • Collect materials from sponsors for give aways, promotion, tables (banners, posters, candy, mugs, etc)
  • Begin sponsor thank you notes, and gift assembly. Assign follow up of lower level sponsors to board members and hospitality volunteers.
  • Ensure you have print quality logos. What looks good online may not on a sign.

Week Before the Event

  • Confirm guest list with sponsors.
  • Thank you signage and recognition materials double checked against list for full inclusion, correct levels, and spelling.

Day before the event:

  • Invite key sponsors set up their own displays or walk through and inspect your set up. Last minute surprises about placement can sour a positive relationship.

At the event:

  • Note on your check in which tickets were sponsor comps (winwinapps automatically does this for you), give them some sort of sticker, pin, or badge that marks them as sponsors, ask all volunteers to thank your sponsors (we don’t do that part).
  • Let your photographer know who your key sponsors are so you are sure to get excellent images of them to include in thank yous.
  • Add a note on your sponsor thank you signage for attendees to thank anyone seen with a gold clothes pin (for example)
  • Invite potential future sponsors to this year’s event. Assign a hospitality crew to current and prospect sponsors.

Day after event:

  • Sponsor thank you email with figures and highlights and images from the event.
  • Sleep.

Week after the event:

  • Follow up visits to top tier sponsors with notes, gifts and ideally sticker, plaque or other visual commemoration. This keeps your event top of mind and helps with marketing. Consider something functional, like a corkboard.

Then this whole thing loops in a never ending cycle. After years of this I will tell you that close attention to these details (particularly the early ones, where you select a target list based on common interests and demographics) will have sponsors vying for a chance to be associated with your event.  And I probably don’t have to tell you that that is a winwin.

Published by

Anna Palmer

Anna Rosenblum Palmer is a freelance writer based in Denver, CO. She writes about sex, parenting, cat pee, bi-polar disorder and the NFL; all things inextricably intertwined with her mental health. In her free time she teaches her boys creative swear words, seeks the last missing puzzle piece and thinks deeply about how she is not exercising. Her writing can be found on Babble,, Great Moments in Parenting, Ravishly, Good Men Project, Sammiches and Psych Meds, Playpen, Crazy Good Parent, and YourTango. She also does a fair amount of navel gazing on her own blog at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.