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Sponsorship Home » Alumni Groups » Toolbox » Sponsorship

Welcome Video by Jeff Hicks

President, MSU Alumni Club of Mid-Michigan

Sponsorships can be developed for single events or long term affiliations. Sponsorships, donations, advertisements for club activities or newsletters are a great way to offset the costs of events and provide the clubs with funds for outreach.

The link below details a targeted approach to your clubs outreach into the community. By implementing this planning tool you can deliver a consistent and directed message. It will assist you in demonstrating the value of a sponsor's investment in your club and/or event.

Do not hesitate in the meantime to solicit assistance from places your club frequents. You may have club members in a position to provide assist as well. A business owner may offer to host an event or wish to pay for advertisement on your website or in your newsletter. If you are having an event many local establishments might be willing to donate food or beverages to your event, especially if it is for community outreach or to fund a scholarship or endowment. Many clubs have alumni benefactors that support their activities. Be creative in how you work for sponsorship!

How to Find a Sponsor

Appoint a sponsorship coordinator
It is important to have a coordinator who is responsible for seeking sponsorship and to whom all sponsorship communications are directed.

Decide what you are seeking sponsorship for
This should be done through what is known as a sponsorship audit. There are two elements to this:

The Club Audit - identifying what your MSU Club has to offer a potential sponsor. This should include the number of events you hold, the number of participants and participants, and any secondary audience you have through newspaper, television and radio coverage of your events. It should detail the opportunities you can offer to display the sponsor's logo, not just at an event but on promotional items, posters, programs or letterheads. You should also talk about opportunities for engagement with other audiences – speaking at events, hosting events at sponsors' location, interactive opportunities.

The Sponsor Audit - identifying potential sponsors and what they are seeking to achieve through their marketing activities. Create a lead list of companies in your area (utilizing your alumni as contacts into those businesses is a great way to start) and what interests they may have in the audiences the MSU Club can provide. Carry out research to find out how accurately the marketing objectives of each company meet your organization.

Draw up a shortlist of companies
After you have an idea of which potential sponsors might be interested, draw up a shortlist. Consider the different attributes of the smaller and larger companies on the list and learn as much as you can about them: use annual reports, press coverage or personal contacts to find out about their interests, management and employees.

Write the sponsorship seeking letter (or better yet pitch in person)
This should be sent to the right person within the company whom you wish to sponsor you. At this stage, the purpose of the letter is to attract the interest of the company, with a view to setting up a meeting with them, rather than to sell the sponsorship there and then. If you can set up a personal visit through connections (alumni, friends, etc.) you can forgo this stage.

Follow-up each sponsorship seeking letter with a telephone call
You should follow the letter with a phone call to the company, usually after 3-4 working days. You should remind the potential sponsor of the letter, who it was from and what it was about and aim to secure a meeting with them.

Write a sponsorship proposal
This may be necessary depending on the scale and scope of the project. It should be used as a supporting document for a presentation or a meeting. It should include the majority of information gathered in the MSU Club and sponsor audits, along with details of the sponsorship including outlined benefits to the company being presented to. It is worth using pictures (of your Club, past events, past sponsorship materials) to help the potential sponsor visualize what they may be getting involved with. Remember to include information about the history of the MSU Club as this is important in establishing credibility. Good financial controls and reports are also important. If you have been sponsored before, prepare case histories which show the activity and the results, as this will encourage confidence in your ability to deliver.

Hold a meeting with a potential sponsor
If a potential sponsor agrees to a meeting, it is essential that this is handled in a professional way. The meeting should be carefully planned and you should go to it fully prepared, so that you can make clear the following:

  • What your organization can offer the potential sponsor
  • What benefits they will get from sponsoring your organization
  • How much sponsorship you require from them
  • How long you would like them to sponsor you

Work together
Once a sponsor has invested in your project, it is essential that it runs smoothly and delivers high quality experiences to participants and attendees. It is also essential to keep the sponsor involved and interested in the project: this will maintain their interest and demonstrate to them the value of their investment.

TIPS: Work closely with your sponsor at all times. In particular, work hard on the personal elements, such as ensuring that the sponsor has sufficient tickets for themselves and guests and a chance to meet participants at events. Have a clear reporting procedure to the sponsor with regular updates on events and activities. Look for ways to increase the news-worthiness of the event by creating interesting photo-ops or press releases. The press, and local radio in particular, will often run joint promotions or act as media partners to the event. Finally, remember that branding of an event and support materials is a key sponsor requirement. Sponsor logos must have prime position at any event and in all supporting material. For the commercial success of a sponsorship the company's product needs to be as close to the sponsorship as possible. Product displays, sampling opportunities, even a sales kiosk at the launch and event are important means for the sponsor to reach its target market. Sponsors and organizers should work together to devise longer lasting links such as discount vouchers for future purchases/use of services for those who attend the event.

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