How to Get Sponsors For an Event

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Part I: Understanding the Basics of Sponsorships

Sponsorships, as defined by IEG, the global authority on sponsorship, are cash or in-kind fees paid to a property, such as a sports, entertainment or non-profit event, in return for access to the exploitable commercial potential associated with that property. According to IEG, sports events hold the largest market share of sponsorship dollars, with an astounding 66%. The runner-up in acquiring sponsorship dollars is entertainment and attractions, with only 11% market share.


Soft Sponsorships: “Relationship-based”

Media partners:

  • Generate free editorial coverage or advertisements in exchange for media materials inserted into event booklets/packets
  • Offer free participation in the race for news anchors/journalists in exchange for live news segment
  • Elevate exposure of the event with credible partners

Major retailer/drug store chain

  • Create credibility for your event by involving a major brand
  • Create more distribution points for materials
  • Leverage relationships with retailers to bring in major brands as vendors

Local car dealership

  • Garner access to courtesy vehicles
  • Offer sponsored prizes/drawings
  • Cost-Reducing Sponsorships

Barter partner

  • Alleviate a traditional expense, such as food, beverage, or even legal advice in exchange for sponsorship exposure

Municipality or Community Association

  • Access discounted rates traditionally given to non-profit or government organisations

Cash Sponsorships

Traditional sponsorships, such as a title sponsor

  • Cover expenses
  • Increase exposure of both the sponsor and your event
  • Create event credibility
  • Customise offerings – packages rarely succeed
  • Note: cash sponsorships tend to require a longer sales cycle (at least six months) because actual budgets are involved


According to recent IEG studies, there are a number of reasons why companies sponsor, as well as number of benefits they expect as a result of their sponsorship.

Why do companies sponsor?

  • To increase brand loyalty
  • Create awareness/visibility
  • Change/reinforce image
  • Drive retailer/dealer traffic
  • Stimulate sales/trials/usage
  • Community/corporate responsibility
  • Platform for experiential branding
  • Sample/display products/services

What do sponsors want and expect from events?

  • Category exclusivity
  • Onsite signage
  • ID in property’s media buy
  • Access to mailing list/database
  • Broadcast ad opportunities
  • ID in property collateral
  • Presence on property’s Website
  • Participation in retailer promotion
  • Ad in program book

Remember, there are billions spent annually on event sponsorships, so there is never a bad time to solicit sponsors. Your challenge is applying these statistics and tactics to create unmatched value for companies.

Part II: Determining and Selling Sponsorship Value


The value of sponsorships is often compared to the value of traditional media buys, such as a print advertisement or commercial. To build the value of your property (your race) you must first take inventory. Examine the “Four P’s”, or the different categories of assets:

1. Participants. Can you attract more participants or are you limited by space or other requirements?

2. Promotions. How will your event be promoted? What type of collateral will you be producing? Will you have a Website?

3. Partners. Will you partner with local sports clubs for peer-to-peer marketing? Is your charitable beneficiary highly desirable?

4. Parameters. What limits will you put on the event sponsorships? What’s negotiable and what’s not? What are the possibilities for sponsors?


Sell value, not costs. Focusing on costs hinders the actual revenue potential of your event. Think like a marketer, know your assets, and be prepared to explain how your sponsorship offering will help the company achieve its goals.

Concrete Assets

  • Media Value: placements, coverage, on-site impressions, collateral, Website
  • On-site Activities: sampling, one-to-one marketing, VIP entertainment, expo booths
  • Lead Generation: mail and email lists, promotional opt-ins

Intangible Assets

  • Desirability & Prestige: event recognition, popularity in market, exclusivity, market impact, growth opportunities
  • Comparables: other events, media in market, standard advertising costs
  • Activation Opportunities: retail tie-ins, sales promotions, hospitality discounts


Guidelines, Not Packages: have a plan for relative benefits and number of sponsors, but focus on the consultative process (after all, who really wants to be known as “bronze”?) Asset Allocation: title sponsors, major sponsors, suppliers, expo exhibitors, etc.


Do your homework: local sponsors, competitors of local sponsors, national companies with local interests, local advertisers Network: talk up your event, seek referrals, attend other events, join associations and trade groups


Be a problem-solver and know that your property will deliver tangible benefits to your sponsors. Be upbeat, confident and process-driven. Believe in what you’re selling.

Evaluate all of the benefits of your property, put together a game plan, network and start selling. For cash sponsorships, start reaching out to companies at least six months in advance. And remember, don’t sell sponsorship packages. Rather, understand what certain companies need and want, then create a customised solution that benefits the sponsor, your event and your participants. Project and anticipate what’s in it for the sponsoring company before making the sale; then follow through to ensure the company sees the benefits.

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