When a company wants to promote itself to a target audience, it may decide to become a sponsor by making a financial contribution to an entity in return for recognition. An example would be an ice cream company that sponsors a Little League baseball team by donating money to pay for the team's uniforms. In exchange, the team agrees to print the ice cream company's name on the back of the team's shirts and display a billboard with the ice cream company's name near the field during games. In this way, sponsorship is essentially a form of advertising.
Find a good match. To get large corporate sponsorships, solicit corporations that have a natural tie-in to the program, event or individual seeking sponsorship support. For example, it would be a good fit for a tire company to support a race car team or an outdoor grill company to sponsor a barbecue cook-off. A cigarette company supporting a Little League team or a beer company supporting a scout troop would not be considered good matches.
Determine what can be offered to the sponsor in exchange for its financial support. How many potential new customers will the sponsor be exposed to through its participation? Will there be mentions of the sponsor's products or services in tangible ways? A potential sponsor wants to know, “What’s in it for me?” Make a complete list of perks or promotional opportunities a sponsor can expect to receive in exchange for its financial support, quantifying the list with hard numbers wherever possible. Some ideas to consider include placing the company’s logo and website link in a prominent place on a website and in company materials, such as newsletters, emails and bill inserts. Invite the company to display signage at the program or event being sponsored and put its logo on program or event collateral pieces; allow time for the sponsor to speak during an event; invite the sponsor to pen an editorial for a newsletter or website; pass out sponsor literature; or use the organization’s mailing list to send direct mail pieces.
Contact the corporate department that handles sponsorship requests and ask for proposal submitting guidelines. Most corporations have a specific list of the kinds of people, programs and events it lends financial support to, so make sure the cause for which you're seeking funds fits the corporation's preferences.
Follow the corporate guidelines for crafting the sponsorship proposal request. In most instances, potential corporate sponsors will want to know who you are, what you do, why you do it, who your audience is, where you get the bulk of your financial operating funds and how much money you are requesting. They will also want to know exactly how its sponsorship money will be used.
Submit the sponsorship proposal and wait one week. Follow up and request a meeting to go over the particulars of the request and address any concerns the potential sponsor may have. Be prepared to be flexible in the amount of money requested.
Learn as much as you can about a corporation before approaching it for sponsorship. Find out what types of things they have sponsored in the past and how much money they typically invest. Having this information will help establish a relationship rather than just a business transaction.
Don't mislead a potential sponsor or offer things you can't realistically provide.