Posted By: Alexandra Malina
2012 is almost here and if you are like most of the entrepreneurs we know you are probably well on your way to getting your first event of 2012 underway. You may have a great event planned, but we all know that an event is only as good as its sponsors. With a small list of sponsors donating food, drink and swag you can take your event from good to great. We know it can seem like a daunting task at first, but it’s really not that difficult. I spent some time chatting with Tamilla Mirzoyeva, Founder of The Next Fest and we came up with these six tips to help you get sponsors for your next event:
- ASK FOR WHAT YOU WANT: Before you contact a potential sponsor know what you are asking for and be specific. Vendors can get overwhelmed with sponsorship requests, so the more specific you can be in asking for what you need, the easier it is for them to say yes.
- LOOK FOR REPEAT GIVERS: Reach out to sponsors who have a reputation for giving in the community. Vendors who have a history of giving usually have systems in place for giving in-kind donations such as food and drinks, so it is easy for them to say yes. When you contact these repeat givers, be sure to compliment them on their community involvement, specifically mentioning a recent event that they sponsored.
- START SMALL: Don’t be afraid to reach out to various sponsors, asking them each for small items for your event. Create a list of all of the items you need for your event, such as a cookie tray or cheese plate and ask different sponsors for each item. A first-time sponsor will be more inclined to say yes to donating something like Chips and Salsa or cups and ice than to donating a whole taco buffet, so start small. Once you have established solid relationships with vendors they will most likely be willing to make larger donations for future events.
- PARTNER WITH A 501c3: If your organization is not set up as a nonprofit with 501c3 status, find a nonprofit to partner with on your next event. Sponsors generally have systems in place specifically for making in-kind donations to nonprofits. By partnering with a nonprofit you also bring an additional element of social-good to your event (here at Center61 we love do-gooders).
- GET THE BALL ROLLING: Begin to reach out to potential sponsors as soon as you start nailing down the details of your event. Larger sponsors usually have a specific application process and require a lead-time of 6-8 weeks, while more local shops and restaurants usually need about three weeks
- A LITTLE GRATITUDE GOES A LONG WAY: It goes without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway. Always be sure to thank your sponsors often and everywhere. Give them props on social media and officially acknowledge them at the event, on your website and on your monthly newsletter if you have one.
With these tips you should be ready to get out there, get sponsors and get going on your first event of 2012!