Money is vital to the survival of community organisations. With so many organisations competing for limited funding opportunities, seeking alternative ways of generating income is a challenging but a crucial part of running a sustainable organisation.

Sponsorship is an excellent way for organisations to raise money. It also helps to raise the profile of sponsors who are likely to include regional or local businesses, charities and individuals.

Many businesses, of all sizes, are willing to engage in sponsorship opportunities as a way of promoting their brand. So, it’s important to understand how to best position yourself to be attractive to potential sponsors. This webpage is here to help!

What is sponsorship?

Sponsorship is a mutually beneficial partnership usually between a community organisation and a business or individual. Sponsors provides financial support, discounts, or in-kind resources to the organisation in exchange for various benefits such as brand exposure, marketing opportunities or access to potential customers.

Organisations seek sponsorship for a variety of reasons, for example, to fund events, activities, kit, or equipment, or to help cover general operating expenses. There are different types of sponsorship, including:

  • Financial sponsorship, where sponsors provide financial support to an organisation e.g. pay to put their logos on kit, cover the cost of facility hire, or put an advertisement on a website, programme, or facility.
  • Value in kind, where sponsors provide a service or product for free or at a discounted rate. This may include kit, equipment, venue hire, travel or promotion and signposting to your organisation’s activities.
  • Supplies, a sponsor provides their products to be sold by the organisation e.g. bar stock, equipment or clothing.

Sponsorship is based on creating a mutually beneficial partnership, it’s important when seeking sponsorship that you’re clear on what you can offer a sponsor in return for their investment. There are lots of reasons businesses or individuals may want to sponsor your organisation. These may include increasing; brand awareness, accessing potential customers, improved customer loyalty, or to fulfil corporate social responsibility objectives.

When considering what you can offer a sponsor think about their desired outcomes, and the opportunities or options you have to promote them. These may include:

  • Logos or company name printed on kit or equipment (think about all the different locations you can offer on your kit).
  • Promotion via your websites, social media channels, newsletters, email footers, letter heads, perimeter boards, fencing, walls, membership cards or programmes.
  • Game sponsorship, this could include additional benefits such as hospitality or the opportunity to name the player of the match.
  • Rights of association e.g., ‘Official partner of’.
  • Naming rights of any facilities, or awards.
  • Holding an event, tournament, or competition under the name of the sponsor.
  • Sponsorship of teams, players, or coaches/instructors.
  • Activities for specific groups of people. 
  • Travel.
  • New or improved facilities or component parts (windows and doors, kitchens, changing rooms, bar etc).

Incentives can be offered as standalone opportunities or grouped together to form a package depending on the level of sponsorship sought. As part of your sponsorship package, you may want to provide other incentives such as corporate days or competitions during the off-season. When developing packages, be prepared to be flexible to ensure you give sponsors good value for their level of investment.

Successful sponsorships require careful planning and management. There are many reasons why community organisations and sponsors may seek to align with each other, but the best sponsorships are usually built on shared values, aims, and objectives. It’s beneficial to research and identify organisations that are a good fit with your organisation. Consider:

  • Local businesses. They’re often willing to support community initiatives in return for increased exposure from their local community, and the positive association and goodwill generated by sponsoring local organisations.
  • Large businesses or corporations. May have corporate social responsibility programmes that involve supporting communities where they’re located.
  • Equipment or kit manufacturers.  They may have interest in sponsoring a community organisation (or offering preferential rates) in exchange for brand visibility and endorsement of their products to their target audiences.
  • Facility providers. They may be able to give you free access or discounted rates in return for promotion or an agreement to use their ancillary facilities (such as the bar or café) after games/activities.
  • Local media outlets. Such as newspapers, radio stations or magazines. They provide free advertising space or coverage and publicity of your activities, competitions and events to help raise awareness and increase exposure for existing sponsors.
  • Other community groups. They could partner with you to share resources or gain access to audiences that you want to target (e.g. religious groups, youth groups or groups specifically for women and girls).
  • Schools and colleges. Can provide access to facilities, potential participants, and volunteers in return for coaching sessions or running of extra-curricular activities.
  • Health and wellbeing organisations. Such as local doctors’ surgeries who could recommend your organisation to patients / service users and offer promotional space on notice boards.

Attracting sponsorship can be competitive. It’s important to make your organisation as attractive as possible and stand out as the preferred option. Our top tips include:

  • Having a plan. Be sure to understand what you want to achieve from any sponsorships, what resources you need and what you can offer in return.  
  • Resource your plan. Ensure you have the right resources, including the appropriate people and skills within your workforce to approach, manage and deliver arrangements with sponsors. Define clear roles and responsibilities within the organisation for managing relationships and ensuring that the terms of any agreement are met.
  • Create your offer. Develop a sponsorship proposal that outlines all the benefits of partnering with your organisation, highlights the value to the sponsor, what they will receive in return and be clear on how their support will make a difference. Where possible create a unique selling point (USP) which helps you stand out from other local organisations.
  • Know your organisation and people. You should have a clear understanding of your values and what you want to achieve so you can align these with your sponsors. It’s also important to know your people, including how many members, users, participants, and volunteers you have, their demographics, what their needs are and how they engage with your organisation. Be clear on the size of your reach and impact on social media, and any other promotional activities as this can help you your sponsorship proposals.
  • See who’s out there. Research potential sponsors and specifically target those who are a good fit for your organisation, your values, and resource needs.
  • Establish relationships. Once you’ve identified potential sponsors, offer a personal touch (e.g. find out who’s best to speak to and personally address any correspondence to them, reference your values and theirs), reach out to them, and create personal connections. Where possible, meet with them or invite them to see your organisation in action.
  • Secure their buy-in. When you’ve established a good relationship, try to agree the sponsorship. At this point;
    • Use your research on their organisation and explain your alignment with their aims and objectives.
    • Outline the potential benefits of partnering with your organisation.
    • Be clear on your ask.
    • Be clear on what you can offer in return.
  • Negotiating terms. Once you’ve identified interested sponsors, be prepared to negotiate the terms of an agreement. Clearly define both of your objectives, timescales, deliverables, payment terms and any other terms and conditions.
  • Activate your partnership and deliver on promises. Once you’ve negotiated the terms, you’re ready to activate your sponsorship. At this stage, you’ll need to ensure that both parties fulfil their commitments.
  • Evaluate and maintain your relationships. Throughout the duration of the sponsorship, keep your sponsors up to date on any news or updates from your organisation. Check in regularly with them to ensure they’re happy and getting the outcomes they expected. Be sure to explore opportunities to expand and continue the sponsorship in the future.

Sponsorship can be achieved either through direct engagement with a sponsoring organisation (e.g. writing or meeting with them) or via online platforms. Online platforms connect organisations with potential sponsors and provide convenient and efficient ways for organisations to promote themselves to potential sponsors and for sponsors to find opportunities that align with their own aims and objectives.

Last modified: Monday, 24 July 2023, 2:48 PM