Asking for sponsorship money via a letter is a tricky proposition because you have to get a lot of information across in just a short page or two. If you’re writing a cover letter that accompanies a sponsorship proposal, the letter needs to tease your reader so she’ll want to look at the proposal. But if the letter is a standalone, it needs to answer some key questions. Why should the sponsor be involved? Why should they open a conversation with you? What's in it for the sponsor?
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
A good letter will outline why the sponsor should want to support your cause and communicate what's in it for the sponsor.
Organize Your Contents
Write a list of the information you want to communicate to potential sponsors in order of importance. Divide your content into sections, deciding what each paragraph of your letter will contain. A good letter might contain a strong introduction, a list of your benefits, details about the event, the fees and a way for your reader to contact you. If your letter is the sponsorship request, write a two-page letter accompanied by a single-page highlight sheet that lists your benefits, costs and contact information.
Start With A Strong Intro
Begin your letter by telling potential sponsors you have a benefit for them. Don’t start your letter by talking about how long you’ve been operating, how many people you serve or the public good you do. That’s important and should be included in your letter, but you can differentiate yourself from the many other organizations asking businesses for contributions, donations and sponsorships by immediately letting your readers know your event can help their businesses. Specifically, let potential sponsors know your event can provide them with effective exposure to their target customer.
If you want to reach hundreds of new parents in your city, we have a great opportunity for you! At our upcoming children's play date, we'd love to showcase your children's clothing line by having you sponsor a table at a very low cost.
Present Your Benefits
List the benefits you offer potential sponsors, including, but not limited to: signage at the event, free tickets, naming rights, access to attendee lists, product sampling, and logos on marketing materials, tickets, T-shirts and your website. Explain your organization’s mission and tell sponsors they can affiliate with your good works, creating brand loyalty and preference among your audience. This is where you sell the “warm and fuzzy” feeling associated with sponsorships. If you are providing a one-sheet with a bulleted list of benefits and sponsorship opportunities, keep this section brief and refer the reader to your list.
We've operated locally in the community for several years, and our annual children's playdate is a popular event. We get a lot of new parents, with children from newborn to 2 years old, who would love to see your clothing line. With a table sponsorship, you get signage with your logo above your table and at the entrance to the event, a flyer in the bag we distribute and a prime position at the play date for maximum exposure.
Provide The Details
Explain your event format, expected attendance, dates, previous successes and other logistics. List the costs for a sponsor to be involved if the letter is the pitch and not accompanied by a sponsorship proposal. Keep this section brief to prevent your letter from running on. Pique a potential sponsor’s interest with the broad details so he will become interested and call for more details. Think like a potential sponsor and finish this section with a wrap-up sentence that reaffirms the sponsorship’s benefit to the potential sponsor’s business.
Our event draws hundreds of new parents, most of them within city limits and local to your clothing shop. Previous sponsors have nearly sold out their items, and seen a substantial increase in walk-in clientele. During our play date, held 12-4 on Monday, Feb. 6, parents can drink coffee and stroll around the tables while their children play in our remodeled playroom.
Finish With A Call To Action
End your letter asking the sponsor to act. If it’s a cover letter accompanying a proposal, direct the sponsor to the proposal. If the letter is the pitch, ask the reader to call or email by a specific date or go to your website for more details. Adding a P.S. at the end of a letter makes that information stand out from the rest of the contents, so use that option to make a strong final impression.
We'd love to have all of our sponsors purchase their tables by the end of the month. I will follow up with you next week to see which sponsorship level you are comfortable with. We look forward to creating a partnership with you to help parents ease into the transition of new parenthood!
Sam Ashe-Edmunds has been writing and lecturing for decades. He has worked in the corporate and nonprofit arenas as a C-Suite executive, serving on several nonprofit boards. He is an internationally traveled sport science writer and lecturer. He has been published in print publications such as Entrepreneur, Tennis, SI for Kids, Chicago Tribune, Sacramento Bee, and on websites such Smart-Healthy-Living.net, SmartyCents and Youthletic. Edmunds has a bachelor's degree in journalism.