If you need to raise funds for an event or organization, having sponsors is an extremely secure way to gain those funds. The term “sponsor” originated from the Latin word “spondre,” meaning “to give assurance, promise solemnly.” Today, sponsors tend to make these promises with the caveat that they will receive ad spots or other recognition, whether physical, online or over the airwaves.

Sponsorship vs. Donations

Sponsorship is different than one-off donations in that there is a set dollar threshold that donors have to cross before they are considered a sponsor. Different organizations have different thresholds for this based on their needs.

Some organizations, such as a local community Little League team, could reserve ad space on their websites and fence borders specifically for their sponsors. Sponsorship for ad space is often noted as being “brought to you by” a given company or group.

What Is a Sponsor Form?

Sponsor forms or sponsor sheets are documents that your sponsors fill out. Sponsorship forms vary from organization to organization and even from event to event hosted by the same organization.

These forms must outline the dollar amount promised to the organization by the sponsor. They also need to describe all that the sponsor will get in exchange for the donation. Many times, good public relations is perceived as being better than ad space.

The details of sponsor forms are dependent on the size of your organization and the number of regular sponsors that you have. Prevalent organizations could have so many sponsors that they must create application forms in hopes of only admitting some sponsors. Even in smaller organizations, if you have firm values that you don’t wish to muddy with conflicting sponsorship, you should use an application form to ensure you and the potential sponsor have values that align.

What Information Should You Collect?

The information you collect from sponsors is dependent on what your organization finds essential. However, there are a few things that you should know about your sponsor regardless of your specific organization’s needs.

  • Name of the Sponsor: While you may assume that this is straightforward, you must ask this every time. Businesses and organizations change names and have divisions that may operate independently.

  • Any Religious or Political Affiliations: This is important for PR purposes in case a religious or political sponsor might conflict with your organization’s values. A ready response should be prepared in case any such affiliation proves problematic.

  • Point of Contact: As with the company name, this person or group could be different every year that you host your event.

  • Approval Group: This could be either a board of directors, a CFO or another entity that has approved the transactions.

  • Dollar Amount Donated: This is extraordinarily important when you are issuing forms tallying up your sponsor’s donations, as it provides documentation for tax purposes. 

  • History of Donations: Again, this is important not only for tax reasons but because once specific goals are hit, your best donors should be recognized.

This list is extremely high level and should be expanded upon depending on your organization and event.

Recognizing Event Sponsors

How you thank your sponsors is up to you. If you have a regular flyer or website, general sponsors can be given ad space. If you have more space available, banners or signs can be made. One of the most effective ways to recognize sponsors is a simple “special thanks to our sponsors” or “brought to you by” announcement during the event itself.

Gifts are another way to offer sponsors a personal thank you. Stress balls, coffee cups, pens or even thank-you dinners for sponsors are excellent ways to recognize the groups and people who made your event possible. Dinners can include reward presentations and explanations of what your group did with the donated funds. Most importantly, they offer invaluable networking between like-minded individuals.