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Many college students look for ways to earn a steady stream of money to support campus clubs. Fundraising and sourcing money from members can help you achieve your financial goals, but often, clubs need to outsource their money from other people or businesses.
If you’ve never had a sponsor before, it can be challenging to know how to get sponsorship for a student organization without guidance. Many times, college clubs will get a sponsor to cover the costs of an event, and you can even get a business to sponsor your club for an entire year to fund all your club’s events and activities.
Even if you have a new desire to create a club that follows one of your passions, you’ll need funding to gain membership and support your cause. Although it would be nice to walk into a business and ask for money, that usually doesn’t work out.
What Is a Sponsorship?
Before diving into how to get a sponsor for a college club, you need to understand the basics. It’s a powerful tool that clubs, organizations and even businesses use to bring in money. Think about Bud Light sponsoring the National Football Association or a musician supporting a famous fast-food restaurant.
It’s a mutually beneficial business tactic where two parties form a relationship, including the business (sponsor) and the club (sponsored). That means, as a student organization member, you can reach out to local businesses or other organizations to fund your group. In return, you would offer to market their business through media such as your club’s social pages, T-shirts, posters and any other type of advertising you use for your club.
Sometimes, people confuse sponsors with donors. If someone donates money to your club, you do not have to advertise or market for them. They were simply participating in a charity effort. A sponsorship benefits both parties, meaning you get the money to fund your club or event, and then you market for the business that provided you the funding.
Below, you’ll find the steps for how to find an education sponsor for your student group. Since you’re still at a college or university, the partnership is more educational rather than a business-to-business relationship.
1. Prepare and Plan in Advance
Whether you’re holding an event, planning a project, or seeking funding for new members or the upkeep of your club, you need to plan well in advance of getting a sponsor. Taking the time to prepare properly ensures you have a better chance of securing sponsorship.
You need to have a clearly defined need for your club or organization. It will be challenging to convince potential sponsors why you need a certain amount of money or other resources without a clear necessity. Consider what resources you need for your group, why you require sponsorship and precisely what your club seeks.
2. Form a Sponsorship Committee
Before you begin reaching out to potential sponsors, you should form a committee within your organization. Although you might want to get the entire membership involved, narrowing it down to a few people can help ease the process. There will also be fewer people to deal with when researching and meeting with sponsors.
Consider the members of your club and choose people that can work well together and will meet deadlines. This is especially important if you’re looking for event sponsorship because you’ll need funding well before the event or project. The committee is the liaison between the sponsor and the rest of the club. However, you can have everyone attend meetings to gain ideas and brainstorm.
3. Research Potential Sponsors
Next, you can begin researching potential sponsors. You’ll want ones you think will support your cause or event. Additionally, they should have the same values and objectives that your committee supports.
You can start with any existing connections with businesses surrounding your college or university. Reach out to your members, as well. They may have parents or family members who own a company willing to sponsor your organization.
The companies you reach out to can be local, national or even multinational. If considering a local sponsor, visit them in person. National sponsors would be a bit more challenging, but if you’re persistent, it could happen. With multinational companies, you have to remain realistic because it’s unlikely they’ll sponsor you. Once you have a broad range of contacts, narrow it down to a few companies your committee would like to reach out to for sponsorship.
4. Lay Out Your Objective With SMART Goals
Meet with your committee to lay out your objectives with SMART goals. SMART stands for:
- Specific: Your objective should be specific and clear. Narrow down your aim to a particular goal, like gaining new members or more awareness through an event or project for which you need money or resources from a sponsor.
- Measurable: Each step of your goal should be measurable. This can be through quantitative or qualitative data you receive or have about your group.
- Achievable: Set objectives that are achievable. If they aren’t feasible for your group, it will be challenging for members to stay motivated throughout the process. Plus, you should set smaller goals you can achieve until you reach the primary objective.
- Realistic: Be realistic with your objectives, as well. As stated earlier, you probably cannot achieve a sponsorship with a multinational company, so focus on local companies with more time to give your group attention.
- Timely: Can you achieve your objectives in a timely manner? The longer the process, the more straining it will be on your group to stay motivated toward reaching a goal.
Be open and honest with your goals and communicate that with your group members. Additionally, be upfront with the potential sponsorship companies because they’ll want to ensure their time, money and resources go to a good cause.
5. Determine How Much You’re Going to Ask For
Determine the amount of money or resources your organization will ask for from the sponsor. Make sure you don’t oversell or undersell yourselves. You can get multiple sponsors, too. Perhaps you need food for an event — get in touch with a local restaurant or pizza shop and ask them to provide it. Maybe you need to use a facility to host a gathering — ask your local YMCA or fire hall to use the location in exchange for advertising.
Again, these should be specific for each business you contact so they know exactly what you need from them. Ensure the company is putting forth just as much effort as you will be when you advertise them. This is a business contract, so you should each get equal value out of the deal.
6. Create a Sponsor Package
Creating a sponsorship package involves putting all of the above steps together into one clear and focused information packet for your potential sponsors. It’s the elevator pitch you give to each business you would like to have as a sponsor for your school club. It is the primary focus of finding an education sponsor for your student group. Here are the components of a sponsor packet:
- Introduction: Businesses need to know the who, what, when, where, why and how of your student organization. Write a professional introduction so they know precisely who they are potentially sponsoring.
- Benefits for the sponsor: Explain how the sponsor will benefit from this business transaction. Will you feature their business on your social media page? Will you market them across campus on posters? The sponsor needs to benefit in some way. Otherwise, they won’t sign the contract.
- Determined approach or model: Typically, sponsor packets come with a model of varying benefits, like a tiered or a la carte model. This provides the sponsor with levels they can choose from or how your student group can achieve specific goals for them.
- Call to action: The call to action brings home your primary purpose for asking for a sponsor. It should make the companies want to say yes to your proposal.
- Conclusion and signature: Conclude with contact information and a summary of your main points. Physically sign the sponsor packet to add a personal touch.
Take time in curating your sponsorship package to ensure each one you hand out will come back with a yes. Send out your packet either by mail or in person, and email each business a copy of the package in case it gets lost in transit.
7. Make a Contract and Close the Deal
Once the business decides to create a partnership with your school organization, you can get together with them to create a contract. This will likely be a face-to-face meeting to discuss all the terms and conditions of the sponsorship. You may have to negotiate with the sponsor, but remember, the partnership should be a win-win situation for both parties.
Close the deal once you have both agreed on what this sponsorship entails. Do this with a firm handshake and a signature on a physical contract. Ensure the money or resources go to your student organization account, and create a timeline of how your university’s club will follow through with marketing and advertising for the company sponsor.
8. Keep in Touch With Your Sponsor
Finally, ensure your club’s committee stays in contact with your sponsor at least until the end of the sponsorship period. This might be until your organization’s event occurs or until your club completes a project. This ensures there is clear communication between both parties and can facilitate any changes along the way.
However, even though the sponsorship period may end, clubs should keep in touch with the businesses that sponsor them. You may need another sponsorship in the future, and already having those contacts will make it easier to secure them. Keep a good relationship with your sponsors.
Remember These Extra Tips
Here are a few extra tips to keep in mind as you learn how to get a sponsor for a school club:
- Study your potential sponsors so you can note them in your proposal and weave them into a conversation.
- Know that sponsorship is more than advertising — it’s a business transaction.
- Ask for non-monetary resources for your club’s event, such as food, stickers, beverages, a venue, etc.
- Keep an organized document of everything you receive from sponsors, like phone calls, emails and information about each company.
- Push through any “nos” you receive. You will likely get a few declines from sponsors, but don’t get discouraged.
- Be sure to thank your sponsors for the time and effort they have invested in your club.
These will help guide you through the sponsorship process so you can make sure your organization stands out from the rest.
Knowing How to Get Sponsorship for a Student Organization
Knowing how to get a sponsor for your club can significantly benefit you and other members of your group. Sometimes, school clubs need extra resources to fund a project or event, and sponsorship can do just that.