Finding and Keeping Sponsors for An Event

May 18, 2011 - 4 minutes read

handshakeUnless you own your own business, in most cases, you will need to find sponsors for your event idea to become a reality.  But how do you get started?  What are some of the best ways to approach business and get them to want to sponsor your event?


As a race director for a small town 5K/10K race, I can tell you a few things I’ve learned along the way:

  1. Engage the community businesses around your event
    Many small and large businesses would prefer to be associated with a race in their area than in another city.  It’s a great way for them to get name recognition and potentially traffic to their business the day of the event.
  2. Suggest ways for them to be able to engage with your participants
    Don’t just go to potential sponsors asking for them to help you.  In exchange for their money to help bring participants to your race, give them ideas on how their sponsorship will help bring your participants to their store.

    For example, approach a local bakery with this idea; as part of their sponsorship, see if they would be willing to give away coupons for a free cookie, good on the event weekend only.  Chances are people will stop in for a free cookie and not only become familiar with the bakery and it’s staff but end up purchasing other bakery items.

  3. Targeted market exposure
    This point is fairly straight forward.  If you are putting on a bike race, go talk to the local bike repair shop.  If you are putting on a kid’s race, maybe talk to the toy stores or place like Chuck E. Cheese.  Find the companies most likely to market to the types of people your event will be drawing to the area.
  4. Get in front of the decision makers
    You might have a really great friend that is a sales person for the local shoe store and they would love to have their company sponsor your event.  But even if you give them the greatest pitch ever about why they should support your event, you may have wasted your time and missed an opportunity.  If your friend really wants to help, have them help you get in front of the store owner.  Give your great pitch to the one who ultimately decides where there sponsorship dollars go each year.  Try to meet with them face to face.  Giving them the opportunity to meet you will establish a much better relationship than just email communications.
  5. Be kind to your sponsors!!
    I can’t stress this one enough, especially if you plan on doing your event next year and hope to have the same sponsors come back to help you again.  Once you secure sponsors, get to know them personally and treat them well.  Don’t forget to send thank you letters to all sponsors and consider sending them follow up information to show the success of your event.  Things like attendance reports, any press coverage, photos, etc.

If you are an event director, what has worked best for you when approaching new sponsors?