Those that are successful in obtaining sponsorship all have something in common. They understand that this isn’t a donation. It is, in fact, just like any other business deal.
For a business to invest in your club or project, it needs something in return and you should be well planned and professional in your approach.
Do your research
- Use your people in the best way you can. Do you have a business-minded volunteer who is personable and can develop partnerships with local businesses? If not, can you recruit someone or can your club train someone for the role?
- Your club has an image. Think about what that image is and what values you hold when considering which business might be a good match
- If you implement strong values at your club and your reputation in the community is positive then there is a greater chance a local business will be interested in your club. Find out more about partnerships
- Make sure different teams in your club aren’t asking the same local business for sponsorship multiple times at once
Understanding business needs
A business may support your club for a number of reasons:
- If they can relate to your club vision
- If they have a relationship with someone in your club
- If they want to give back to the local community
- If there is a benefit for the business to market its products or service
Approaching a business
Get to know the key decision makers, establish whether they have an affinity with the club or the sport you deliver.
Understand their business objectives and tailor the benefits you offer accordingly – remember what you consider to be an amazing project might not necessarily fit with their company profile.
If you don’t have any connections already to the local business you want to approach, you could introduce yourself either by letter or by email.
But whether you are writing to a company or meeting them face to face, the principles of approaching a business are the same.
Explain what type of sports club you are, where you are based, how many members you have, how long you’ve been established.
If your Club Development or Business Plan is short and snappy, you could share that with businesses to explain who you are and what you are trying to achieve. Just remember, you need to make a good impression fast – so don’t send lengthy plans.
Next, and very importantly, explain the problem or need and then explain the impact on the club. Do you suffer from a lack of kit or equipment? Does it mean you can’t set up that new junior side to help clear your waiting lists? Is it a lack of accessibility to your facility? Inspire the business you’re pitching to with your aims for the club.
Spell out how the sponsor will benefit. Will they have their name on the kit, pitch-side hoardings, the clubhouse, the match programme? Can they have advertising on your club website? Will they be mentioned in the club’s social media profiles? If it’s a restaurant, will it be the venue for post match celebrations?
There’s no harm in reminding your potential sponsor of the community value your club provides. So if your club is encouraging local children to keep fit and healthy and that it’s teaching them other life skills such as leadership and confidence – then say so!
Try to make a connection with the business and their aspirations as a business.
Be concise, be clear and realistic with what you’re asking for (whether that’s time, expertise or money).
Don’t forget to provide your contact details and extend a welcome to the club to find out more.
- Dear Sir letters do not work – if you cannot be bothered to find out about a funder why should they be bothered to give you money?
- No passion, no value – you must believe in your project when you sell it to funders
- Before you approach potential sponsors, get a copy of their Annual Report to see how they have allocated previous funds
- Sometimes clubs are able to talk to local businesses fairly informally. You might be in a networking type situation where you can chat to local businesses. Perhaps one of your members owns or works for a local business?
You’ve secured sponsorship, what next?
Once you get a sponsor on board, it is vital you deliver on all benefits you have offered, as well as providing a few additional extras for good measure. Always sit down with your sponsor and evaluate how things are going. If there are any issues, your club will have a chance to put things right before support is withdrawn.
Remember to communicate with your members so they are aware of the business partnership.
To promote a good relationship with a business, you can:
- Keep them involved in club activities on an ongoing basis (for example, they could present prizes at awards evenings)
- Recognise the business regularly for their support via social media, your website and in press releases
- Invite them to club functions. Even if they don’t come, it’s the recognition that they are part of your team that will help when it comes to needing support in the future
Make sure you value the support by making the business representatives feel part of your club. Do this throughout the season to develop the relationship.