Identifying New Sponsors
Who to Contact?
• Before we start reaching out to sponsors, we need to determine who to reach out to.
• Common places to get a list of sponsors – Organization mailing list, committee person contact list, yellow pages/chamber of commerce/better business bureau.
• The best way to bring a sponsor on board is if somebody reaching out to the company/individual has a personal connection – look for that when you reach out.
Most tournaments have “Friends & Family” as their main sponsors. A personal connection with your sponsor is key, so how do you replicate that with people who aren’t friends & family?
Think Like a Sponsor
Read through the following sections and answer the questions based on your own experience. We have all been asked for money? Imagine that somebody knocks on your door or visits your business and starts to ask for money …
• When you made a donation, how do the organization thank you/show it’s appreciation/recognize you?
• Is the volunteer being pushy and making you feel guilty or listening to understand what matters to you?
• After you made a donation, how did the organization show their appreciation? Do you feel like they were genuinely gracious? If they were, would you donate again? If they weren’t, would you donate again?
• What impact is your donation/sponsorship having?
• What is the money going towards?
• Do you believe in what the organization is trying to achieve?
• Do you think the organization is going to be responsible with the money?
• You’re making a donation, do you expect to get a tax receipt?
• If the organization can’t offer this, is that enough for you to say no?
• What is more important than a tax receipt?
• Will you make any money from your sponsorship/donation?
• Does that matter to you if you won’t get any business from it?
We have ranked the previous 4 elements in order of priority. Most sponsors make decisions based on Appreciation & Impact first and Tax Receipt & Business Generation second. Interestingly, if Appreciation & Impact are not there, sponsors will usually cite lack of a Tax Receipt or “The Economy” as a reason for not wanting to donate.
Developing Sponsorship Levels
What can your sponsors afford?
• Think about buying a car. Imagine that a car salesperson comes to you and offers you the choice between a Honda, Mercedes-Benz or a Ferrari and only one model/style of each.
• That’s quite a range of prices and with only one model to choose from, not a very good selection.
• You may want something priced between a Honda and a Mercedes.
• If a sponsor is able to donate $500 and the levels you offer are $250 or $1000, they will have to go with $250.
• TIP: Before you set your sponsorship levels, think about what amount of money your group of sponsors can afford.
What do they want for their donation?
• Continuing with the car example, let’s say the Mercedes was the right price, and the current option was a neon yellow convertible. In your case, you’ve got a family and prefer a classic black. The price point works, but the options you have at that price point aren’t a good fit.
• For a golf tournament, the Value you tie to each sponsorship level can come in different forms:
• Individual golf spots or foursomes
• Sponsor a table / Dinner included for “plus one” guests
• The sponsor can speak at dinner or just before the shotgun
• Comes in many forms – on-course signage, website, program, at a physical location (e.g. your school, place of business, office)
• There are countless options – helicopter ball drop, goody bag trinkets, discount cards, etc.
• Each sponsor likes different things – the more you can find out about what they like, the more successful you will be at bringing them on board at a particular level
Reaching out to Sponsors
When you reach out to sponsors, you need to let them know, among other things, why the tournament is happening, and how they can get involved. Tournaments communicate this through their Volunteers and Collateral (brochures, save the dates, flyers, letters, website, etc.). Before reaching out to sponsors, think about the Message you want to communicate
• We are raising money for scholarships
• Your sponsorship includes a sign on a hole
• Money raised provides scholarships for students who are not otherwise able to go to school. Of the students who have received scholarships, 60% donate back to the school after graduation.
• Your sponsorship will include a personalized sign – let the students know why you donated. Your logo will be displayed throughout the tournament.
Communication is often about HOW you say something vs. WHAT you say. If your focus is on the impact that the money will have and how important sponsors are to having the event, this will come across when you reach out to sponsors.
• The more personal you make a connection, the higher chance you have of bringing a sponsor on board. This isn’t always easy. Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can personalize your outreach without spending too much time.
• Think again about situations when you’ve been asked for money and how you responded.
• You receive an email that is 4 paragraphs long and then an attachment that is 2 pages long that outlines the information about how you can get involved in a tournament. What would you do if you received something like this?
• Somebody writes you a letter. In that, they ask you about the new hobby you picked up (wow! they remembered). Within the letter they mention a specific sponsorship level you might be interested in given some feedback you provided to them last year.
• The same content as a personal letter – this time somebody reaches out to you by phone. They are curious about what you’re working on now and when they ask about sponsorship, it sounds like they’ve been thinking about what might work for you. You give them some feedback about the sponsorship level they mentioned and they change their recommendation to a level that is more appropriate.
• Somebody drops by to visit you. They stop by every year around the same time to talk about the golf tournament. You’ve still got their hand written thank you card from last year on your desk and they’ve slightly modified the sponsorship you had last year based on some feedback you gave them at the end of the tournament
Which form of communication and message are you likely to respond to the most? Think about how you can make small changes to what you’re already doing so that your approach is more geared towards your sponsors.