The Cold Hard Truth About Sponsorship

Sponsors love receiving cold, generic proposals, don’t they?

They MUST because the majority of fundraisers still use them as the #1 way to make their initial approach to a company.

I speak to companies… alot.

And more and more marketing managers are telling me that the generic sponsorship letters and proposals they receive are fast becoming their ‘pet hate’.

Now, whilst you probably don’t actually believe that sponsors love receiving (sometimes thousands of) cold, generic proposals, I can’t help but wonder why this is still the way most sponsorship seekers go about trying to engage sponsors?

The Cold Hard Truth About Sponsorship?

Have you ever thought about it from your sponsorship proposal’s point of view?

Being sent out into the cold.  Not knowing where they are going or who they’ll meet.

Will they find someone to love them? Someone who ‘sees’ them?

All that pressure to perform and expected to be the sales tool, when really the sales tool is you!

The problem is, that right now to a sponsor,  you are just one of many.

One of many proposals piling up on their desk or in their bin, not getting read.

Now, you may not look at other For-Purpose organisations that do similar things as your competitors (and if you’re not, then you should be!) but it is safe to say that your event, organisation or sponsorship opportunity is not only competing with other organisations and events also looking for corporate investment, you are also competing with all the other ways marketing managers can choose to spend their marketing budget.

Coupled with the fact that companies are being spoilt for choice in terms of which organisations and sponsorship opportunities they can align with, the problem is that the majority of For-Purpose organisations are not putting their ‘best foot forward’ when creating a first impression.

No wonder your poor sponsorship proposal is freaking out! So much pressure to perform!

Let’s be clear, you DO only have one chance at making a good first impression.

I know that the never-ending time, resources and budget constraints you face creates a natural temptation to send out a swath of generic proposals to businesses you think might be interested in investing in you and be done with it. For now.  At least you can turn your attention to other important matters whilst you wait for the calls and emails replying to your proposal.


The cold hard truth about sponsorship is that speaking with a company before you send them a proposal will elevate you into the rare few organisations seeking sponsorship in this way.

If your sponsorship proposal could have a conversation with a brand… well, now that you be excellent!

But until that day arrives, taking the time to be curious about what a company might be hoping to achieve by partnering with you and asking what sponsors want, should be the norm, not the exception.

After that first conversation, some companies will be happy to receive a proposal so they can see who you are and what you offer before they delve into further details.  (My one caveat on this type of proposal is that you never include the price.  This document should be a point of negotiation, rather than a way for a company to make a decision not to partner with you before you’ve had a chance to meet with them and explain the opportunity.)

Others will want specific things from a partnership from the outset – that’s a great opportunity to meet with them and get to know what they are trying to achieve from investing in your organisation – so, take the time to tailor your offering.

There’s no doubt that calling first works.

Apart from the benefits of making a potentially valuable connection that can exponentially increase the chances of your proposal being read; by calling a company before you send your proposal, you can learn a host of things:

  • What the best timing of your sponsorship proposal is – approx 50% of marketing budgets are organised between September-November every year.
  • Who is the best person to speak with?
  • Whether or not they are even interested in aligning with your organisation or event?
  • An indication of what to charge/their budget allocation for sponsorship?
  • The future direction of their company/product range?
  • What is your potential sponsor hoping to achieve? What are their objectives for a partnership?
  • Are they looking for increased brand awareness/ profile/ brand protection?
  • Do they want a ‘warm’ introduction to a market they are not currently doing business with?
  • How do they hope to influence purchasing behaviour to increase their sales?
  • How do they value the credibility a partnership offers (a connection with your impeccable brand)?
  • Do they understand the value of the ‘perceived’ endorsement a partnership with you provides?

Next time you are considering seeking partners for your event or organisation, don’t be tempted by the false economies of just getting a bunch of generic proposals out the door.

Doing homework saves you time.

It’s much better to send proposals out to 10 companies that are expecting them than have to follow up on 150 generic ones that often don’t reach the decision maker in the first place!

Join the conversation happening right now in our Facebook group for fundraisers!

Let's Go!
Let's Go!