Whether you manage a small event (up to 500 participants) or a larger event many of the principals of building a successful event sponsorship program remain the same. You still need to build your sales materials and have a sales process in place. However, how you approach sponsorship can differ dramatically because your event does not have the same reach for a sponsor as a larger event.
When approaching in-kind sponsors go after local companies for budget relieving product (i.e. bananas, bagels, etc.), but also one that will serve to enhance the participant’s event experience and increase the profile of your event. For example, if you are able to secure your local Whole Foods Market then not only will you get food for your participants but a national brand attached to your event at the same time.
Cash sponsors for smaller events are harder to secure, but not if you take the right approach. Go after local companies that are heavily tied into the community that are accustomed to making cash “donations” to sports teams and leagues. Also be sure to tie in with a local charitable cause as this will make writing a check for the sponsor much more palatable if they know your event supports a worthy cause.
Lastly, be sure to pursue local media sponsors by pitching them great stories about your participants that could garner editorial coverage for your event. Tie in with a local charity and talk about how your event is helping to change lives. We are, after all, in the business of raising the self-esteem and self-confidence of millions of people and everyone loves a great story!