Sponsorship and Corporate Donations

How to get local business support for your event

A local employer or small business might value an association with your arts event.

They may wish to simply make a donation to your event and expect nothing in return because they value what you’re doing.  In that case, there is no obligation for you to do anything for them except thank them. Remember to make them feel very special and keep them fully informed of what you’re doing in return. They may donate a second time!

If they want to receive a public credit for making a financial contribution to your event, they may wish to become the event’s sponsor. This is usually in the form of a logo on publicity material. If you don’t have a programme, you might be able to credit sponsors on a carnival float, a plaque, a banner, a display, or supply them with free or discounted tickets. Before you approach a company, you need to consider what you have to offer in return for their sponsorship. It’s a good idea to prepare a well-presented document either as a PDF attachment or as a printed pack with loose binding so you can tailor each pack to the company.

What to Include in Your Sponsorship Pack

Your pack should include:

Details of your organisation.
An overview of your project/event, including what you aim to achieve by it.
How it will benefit the local community.
The projected audience attendance and profile.
Details of the publicity you will undertake.
How an involvement with your event will benefit the company.
What will the business get in return for their support e.g. branding, tickets, hospitality?
How much is the value of your sponsorship package i.e. the cost to the company.

To find a list of potential sponsors or donors, have a look through local newspapers, check the business directory at your local library, contact your local Chamber of Commerce, research the internet or ask the advice of your local arts development manager/officer. A visit to each company’s website will give you some useful background information and help you decide how best to make an approach.

Many larger organisations often prioritise supporting local community initiatives or events as part of their marketing, philanthropy or corporate social responsibility (CSR) objectives and usually have a member of staff who handles these enquiries. A business may consider sponsoring your event for a number of reasons – raising their profile within the community, linking to a wider marketing campaign, aligning their brand with your project or to be ethically and socially responsible.

Approaching Sponsors

When approaching a potential sponsor there are some key do’s and don’ts:

Try to target companies with a history of sponsorship and/or ties with your community or type of event or activity.
Always try to approach a named person in any correspondence, you can usually find the person who deals with sponsorship/marketing by looking on a businesses website or by phoning and simply asking.
Communicate how sponsoring your event will benefit the company. If they cannot understand the justification behind a sponsorship, they will be unlikely to support it.
Decide if you are looking for a cash contribution to your event or if the sponsor could support you by supplying free or reduced price products or services instead, such as food, equipment, designing a website or printing flyers for free etc.
See if a local dignitary or celebrity with ties to your community or type of event might consider supporting it.  This may appeal to certain businesses through increased media interest.
Initial letters should be no more than one page long to scope interest and where possible altered to appeal to specific companies. If a business or company shows interest, your sponsorship pack that contains a more detailed breakdown of your event should be made available.
It is usually better to have one person who coordinates all sponsorship proposals and does the follow up, either by letter or preferably by phone – even if the response is negative.
You may not initially receive a response from an initial letter or email, or you may need to approach a number of potential sponsors – perserverance is essential!Aim to keep your costs as low as possible and thereby maximise the impact of any sponsorship you receive.
Think carefully about which sponsors you approach and if there are any reasons why you may not want to be associated with some companies with your event e.g. alcohol providers, or businesses with a negative reputation.  Are there any things you would not wish a sponsor to have in return for their support e.g. can they sell their products at your event?

Valuing Sponsorship

It is always difficult to know how much to ask for.  If you are requesting a donation (for no benefits in return) then any amount of money will be welcome.

If you are seeking sponsorship and providing them with benefits in return such as a logo, banner, free advert in the programme etc, then think about what each one of those benefits is worth and ask for that amount.

You may wish to negotiate – but make sure you are fair to all your sponsors, especially if you have more than one for any event, so don’t let some have more benefits than they are really paying for.

Sponsorship is a commercial relationship, even if the reason for a business to sponsor you is due to wanting to show support for the community. If your organisation is registered for VAT, then you need to be aware that VAT should be charged on any money from sponsorship.

Further Information


Click here for the next section on ‘Crowdfunding’

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