Businesses, both large and small, receive frequent requests for sponsorships from the community. The visibility of small-business owners in their areas makes them especially frequent targets of requests. Supporting your neighbors makes good business sense, but do so only after creating a clearly defined plan for assessing solicitation requests and determining which sponsorships best reflect your business.

Set Criteria

Define criteria to identify the type of organizations or causes that your business wants to support. Doing so provides clarity and speed in sifting through the requests for assistance. Consider setting standards to align with your business mission. For example, an owner of a children’s clothing store might support only organizations that benefit children. Or, select sponsorship opportunities that have the potential to build brand loyalty with current or future customers. An owner of a sporting goods store, for example, could sponsor local youth athletic teams. Selecting a single “feel-good” cause that resonates with large groups of potential customers to create goodwill is another approach. One such business is Cincinnati chili purveyor Gold Star Chili, which helps with parties for military members returning from active duty.

Accept or Decline

The established standards make for quick decisions when sponsorship requests arrive. Immediately decline requests that do not meet your mission. Doing so leaves you with a smaller pool of requests to consider on their merits. Devise a response form letter written in a friendly and appreciative tone that acknowledges the good of the requesting organization but states you must decline because you have specific criteria when it comes to sponsorship. When you accept the request, include a notification indicating that you have enclosed payment; request a receipt, as well. Close every letter with wishes for continued success, regardless of your approval or denial.


Responding to every request for sponsorship is proper business etiquette and builds goodwill. Respond promptly whether donating or not. If the answer is no, your letter explaining the decision allows the organization to pursue other donations.


Showing your support of the community helps in marketing your business. Prominently display thank you letters received for donations or photographs taken at events you sponsor. Advertise your donation on your social media sites or through news releases. Consider connecting your sponsorship with a brand-awareness campaign by asking for the right to display signage at an event or include your logo on the back of a team T-shirt, for example. Be creative.