Sponsors are philanthropic individuals who like to help others. Expressing your gratitude in a written letter to the individuals or groups that helped support your cause will let them know that their support was appreciated. Avoid overly flowery or gushy sentiment. Keep the letter direct, clear and simple.
Choose the Business Letter Format
Write the letter on your own letterhead or that of the group you represent, which received the sponsorship. Open your letter by addressing it to the person by name. If it will go to an organization, write to the major representative, such as "President Jones" or "Mrs. Emma Whitaker, CEO," then CC – carbon copy – the Board of Directors with an additional copy. A greeting like "Dear Mrs. Whitaker and Members of the Board" is appropriate.
Express Your Gratitude
Write heartfelt words that express your gratitude. Directly state that you are truly grateful for the specific support the company provided, then add the name of your project or event. Many large philanthropic groups may contribute to thousands of people, so include what it was to which the person or group contributed. An example would be, "Our women's yacht racing team joins me in thanking you all for the sponsorship contribution of $50,000 toward our entry into the Vic Maui race." If items were contributed, give thanks for specifics, such as equipment, tools, supplies, gear or accommodations.
Be Specific About the Money
Add details about the experience and a note about what the money went toward. For example, "Your sponsorship funds went toward a full set of new sails for the yacht and new navigation equipment. The race went off with only one minor glitch during the last two hours. We did, however, place first in our division. We couldn't have done the race at all without your help. The blind women who were crew members will carry the message of becoming independent to their various communities, toward inspiring young female athletes."
Think Forward to Fresh Goals
Add a sentence or two indicating your next project and goals. Mentioning a future event will help set the stage for hoped-for future funding. If you achieved well or succeeded in meeting your goal, the sponsor will very likely be open to future support.
Sincerely Close the Letter
Close the letter with a "Very sincerely yours" or "With sincere gratitude," then sign it. Add the names of team members if the group is small, but otherwise yours will be sufficient. Add contact information and a website link at the end of the letter. Keep the entire letter to one page, using your authentic "voice" – language you are comfortable with – combined with a professional approach. Personalize the signature by hand signing it rather than typing, even if the rest of the letter is typed.
Enclose a Memento
It's good practice to add a memento when possible. For example, if you were sponsored to write a book, send a signed copy with the letter. If you were given uniforms or equipment, send a team photo showing these. In the case of the women's racing team, a photo of the crew on the vessel would be appropriate. Framing it is optional. Send a DVD if you made a film, or if someone videotaped your event. Seeing footage of a climb to Mount Everest before the world sees it can be exciting to sponsors.
Debra J. Rigas, a professional writing coach, has been a writer and editor since 1975. She is the author of the nonfiction book "Everyone's A Guru" and has edited novels ("The Woman Pope") and worked in arts and sciences as a filmmaker, boat captain, landscaper, counselor, theater administrator and licensed midwife.