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If you have a leadership role in a school club, society, or student group, you might be thinking about hosting some in-person — or even digital — events this school year.
With COVID-19 restrictions coming to an end, your school club may be seeing more activity than ever before. And that’s amazing! Whether you’re planning outdoor events, activity days, fundraising events, or creative parties, you may be in the market for funding from outside your school.
There are lots of reasons why your student group might want to look for outside sponsorship. Whether you want specific products there or you simply need a bit more funding than your school is willing to offer, reaching out for corporate sponsorship can be a great way to fund your club’s mission.
No matter what your club is all about, you can use corporate and local sponsorships to practice your outreach and find funding for all of your club’s missions. Whether you want to put together a small get-together or you’re in the market for a larger celebration, you can probably find a sponsorship that works with your needs and your ideas. While it may take a bit of work and some networking, you can look at it as an opportunity to practice your communication and connection skills to build bridges and get even more traction for your cause.
If you’re looking for some ideas on how to recruit sponsors for student groups, how to reach out to sponsors, and what to say in sponsor letters when you do, here are a few things you might want to know.
If you’ve never reached out for sponsorships before, you might feel a bit in over your head — but that’s okay. There will likely be plenty of sponsors looking to jump on the bandwagon once you put the word out there.
Your first order of business will likely be deciding which sponsors to reach out to. If you’re already moving on to how to recruit sponsors for student groups, you may want to reel it back for just a moment and consider: which businesses and organizations have sponsored events like this one before? Who will be able to provide the resources you need for your event? Who matches your demographic and understands your message?
Thinking about questions like these can help you narrow down your choices and ultimately choose the best one for your college student group and event.
Local Businesses and Connections
One of the best places to start is asking around local businesses and organizations, as well as using any connections you might happen to have by being a part of your local community.
While larger corporate sponsors can also be great, people might be more likely to trust and support small businesses within your community, and you may be able to work more closely and personally with those kinds of businesses. Try reaching out to local businesses in the community and using any connections you or your club members have to businesses and organizations in the area, through social connections, working, or patronage.
You can even explore creative ideas like involving the customers or volunteering with the business itself. It may just add a bit of local flair to your event!
Planning Your Events
Something else you should probably be thinking about while you brainstorm sponsorship ideas are the events themselves and the planning of them.
Each event is different and has its own unique vibe — planning a fundraiser is vastly different from planning a mixer or a party. You want to have as many of your ideas clearly envisioned as possible when you pitch to sponsors so they know how they can best help you and so you can attract as many sponsors as you need with a specific vision they can adhere to.
You’ll want to show them how competent you are, and planning — or at least having concrete ideas — is the best way to do that.
How to Reach Out to Sponsors
If people in your club or organization have a social connection to the business you’re reaching out to, you may be able to bring up the idea causally before you make a formal proposal. However, the usual method of proposing sponsorship for an event or fundraiser is usually through an email or a sponsor letter.
While you can choose to send these letters through traditional mail, many instances allow for email to be appropriate as well.
What to Say in Sponsor Letters
If you’re wondering what to say in sponsorship letters when you write to businesses and organizations, you aren’t alone. Actually reaching out to businesses can be a bit nerve-wracking, but you can work on your sponsorship letters together with your other club members and find a format that works well for each event, business, and brand identity.
Ideally, your sponsor letter should discuss a few different things:
- A description of your cause and what your club or organization does
- A description of the specific event you’re planning
- An estimated budget for the event
- An incentive for their participation or what they’ll ideally get out of it
- Why you chose their business
While you can obviously further tailor your sponsorship letters if there is any other information they might need to know — like if your event needs to take place on a specific date or if you’re requesting any specific service or support they provide, such as catering or music — you can start with the basic details and build from there.
Again, each sponsorship letter is different and you can put your own flair on things, but knowing what to say in a sponsor letter is a great first step.
A Sponsor Letter Example
Looking for an example or a template for a sponsor letter? Here’s a quick one that can be sent to a business you’re looking to contact.
Remember: there are different kinds of sponsorship letters you’ll want to send to different kinds of potential sponsors, and you can find more specialized templates for those online. But here is one that can get you started:
Dear [company name or person],
We are [name of club or organization] from [school], where we [description of the purpose of your club]. We have many exciting events coming up this semester, and we would love to partner with you on our goal of [goal for community event, such as fundraising for a cause].
On [specific date, month, or season] we are planning a [event title], where we plan to [purpose of event]. We would love to involve you as a corporate sponsor, a role in which your company would provide [donation, support, etc.] and we would promote your business at the event in return. With [company name] by our side at this event, we believe we can achieve our goal of [goal or mission].
If your company would like to move forward with the process of becoming our official sponsor for [event], please reach out at [email, phone number, etc]. Thank you so much! We hope to hear from you soon.
[club name or club leaders]
While, of course, you’ll want to put your own spin on the sponsorship request in order to tailor it more specifically to your club and the event you’re planning, this template can be a great place to get started and branch out from there.
Another important part of planning an event and procuring sponsors is to have options. While you don’t want to go crazy by reaching out to every business in the city, there are positive ways to network with many businesses so you have options to choose from — and you have backup in case some businesses decline the request.
While reaching out to only your top choice businesses might be the easiest way to send out your letters quickly, that might not pay off in the long run, not just because they may say no, but also because other potential sponsors might surprise you with better support and better offers.
And if you end up with more sponsors than you can use in one event, keep those connections for future possibilities. When you maintain those relationships with sponsors and reach out to them when you’re planning your next event, you can make future connections easier.
The hardest part of forming those relationships is getting the ball rolling. Once you’ve done that, it’s more about working together and choosing sponsorships for individual events.
Don’t Get Discouraged
On the flip side from the many options you’ll have available to you after a few letters, you might inevitably get a few rejections in the early stages. Remember: even though it can be tough, it isn’t personal, and it doesn’t always mean your proposal or sponsorship letter was flawed in any way.
At the end of the day, businesses are still businesses — even local ones — and they may just not be in a position to sponsor an event or take on additional responsibilities right now. Even if some businesses say no, don’t get discouraged — there will be so many more businesses willing to sponsor your event if you keep trying.
Another great way to secure sponsors and make your process easier is to plan ahead and secure as much of the preparation as possible before you reach out to sponsors. At the very least, having their part in the event planned out can give them an exact picture of what you’re asking from them. This can be a key element in securing the sponsors you want and having them come through in the way you need for your event. The clearer you are about your needs, the easier they’ll be to meet.
Keeping in Touch
Like mentioned above, networking and building lasting relationships with sponsors — or potential sponsors — can make event planning easier in the future, as you’ll likely already have a rapport with the businesses and organizations you enjoy partnering with.
Even if you’ve turned a sponsor down — or they’ve turned your club down — for one event, there are ways to keep the door open for future collaborations. First, remember to always say thank you. Send a follow-up email or thank-you note to let them know you appreciate their time.
Additionally, you should continue to keep in touch between events and give sponsors an idea of your yearly plans so you can reach out quickly and easily in the future.
Sponsorship Opportunities for School Clubs
No matter what kind of club or organization you run at your school, you can reach out to all kinds of businesses and organizations for the opportunity to partner up and make your events stand out. With good communication skills, a professional demeanor, and continued networking, you can find the sponsors you need right now and lend a hand to the future of your club by making things easier in the long run.
Have you ever planned a sponsored event before? What kind of events are your clubs planning this semester?