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Event Sponsorship

Sponsorship can constitute a lucrative source of revenue for events, whether this be through direct financial input or through benefits in kind such as support services and free products.

However, it must be remembered that sponsorship is generally not a philanthropic gesture, but a business relationship between the event organiser and the sponsors. It is a two way process whereby the sponsor is gaining rights and benefits in return for investment in the event.

With the above in mind, it must also be noted that the benefits of having sponsors go beyond having an additional revenue stream. It could lead to the donation of products, services or gifts, it can open up advice and expertise, you can benefit from their market position, customer base and brand image and you may be able to use their channels of distribution, for example through partnering up with retailers who can sell tickets for you.

You must also understand why organisations sponsor events in order to develop a set of sponsorship packages which can be offered to potential sponsors.
Common motivations for sponsoring events include:

  • Gaining access to your events target market.
  • Generating goodwill towards the sponsor.
  • Generating brand awareness and acceptance
  • Positioning or repositioning an existing product or service.
  • Client and employee entertainment/hospitality.
  • Merchandising opportunities and the ability to demonstrate products.
  • To create awareness of an issue (e.g. road safety).
  • To gain access to the event e.g. tickets and corporate hospitality.

If you are considering sponsorship, an audit of what the event can offer to potential sponsors should be undertaken, leading to the development of a series of tiered sponsorship packages. One of the most common elements of a sponsorship package is media exposure for example including the sponsor’s logo on promotional materials, website and so forth. However, beyond this there are many other potential benefits that can be offered to potential sponsors to increase the value and benefits of sponsorship. For example an agreement to purchase products or services from sponsors e.g. catering supplies, exclusivity within a product category e.g. banking, exclusivity for the sponsor to sell products at the event within a product category e.g. beer or wine at a festival.

From a publicity perspective, the ability for sponsors to erect signage, banners and advertising around and within the event site can be a valuable tool in increasing awareness of their company. This could be linked to naming rights, whereby the event name incorporates that of the sponsor, or individual components of the event e.g. stages or performances are linked to specific sponsors. Likewise, advertising in the media with your sponsor to reinforce association can also be mutually beneficial.

Another selling point of sponsorship packages can be experiential marketing opportunities where part of the package includes the space and rights to conduct experiential marketing. Space may also be offered to sponsors to demonstrate products. Hospitality packages for sponsors and their clients incorporating event tickets, food and drinks and privileged viewing areas are another common feature. Such packages may also include networking, product endorsement and access to VIP’s/ celebrities or even the rights to stage fringe events in association with the main event.

Depending on the nature of the event, a whole range of sponsorship opportunities may be available to you. Once you have identified and created your sponsorship packages you should then cost them in terms of the potential value of the elements being offered and the cost to you as an event organiser in delivering different elements of the packages. If you begin by establishing the total cost in terms of financial expenditure and person hours arising from the sponsorship package, then value all the tangible benefits e.g. tickets, hospitality, advertising featuring the sponsor, media coverage, etc. This will enable you to come to a price as to the value of the potential sponsorship packages however, you must be prepared to be flexible and negotiate.

Identifying potential sponsors

The identification of potential sponsors should take place whilst developing the sponsorship packages, this will enable you to consider what benefits they may be seeking and the investment they may be willing to make in the event.

To identify potential sponsors, you should consider who has sponsored the event previously? If it is a first time event then you should research similar events and who has sponsored them? You should also consider if the proposed opportunities have synergy with a particular company or industry? What are you trying to achieve through sponsorship i.e. are there particular companies it would be useful to have as sponsors? Which companies are seeking to expand into your market/area or are there companies launching new products? Other things to consider are the limitations on the types of events an organisation will sponsor and indeed the types of organisations you wish to have as sponsors. Linked to the event promotion you should also consider the geographical reach for the event, this will impact on the types of organisations willing to sponsor your event.

Presenting your sponsorship opportunities

Once you have identified potential sponsors, make contact to outline the event and the sponsorship opportunity and develop a rapport to gain a deeper insight into the company’s goals and desired outcomes from sponsorship. This can then be followed up with a formal proposal.

Sponsorship proposals

A formal sponsorship proposal should answer a series of questions:

What and where is the event? Provide an overview of the event (mission/goals, aims & objectives, history, board members, etc.) Details of current and past sponsors, programme, media coverage, attendance levels and profile, location, etc.

Why should they sponsor it? Provide details of sponsorship package/s offered e.g. marketing and promotion and onsite activities and costs. Proposed conditions of the potential sponsorship agreement clearly identifying sponsor benefits and rights. Highlight the strategic fit between event and sponsor.

When? What is the duration of proposed agreement?

Who should they contact?

Note: Some organisations have set requirements for proposals, so you should always clarify these before approaching them with a proposal.

Events Management Toolkit Contents

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