Finding sponsors for your association’s events is a major component of increasing non-dues revenue and generating a surplus. This article explores options of how to optimize your association’s sponsorship revenue.

Reach out to Previous Sponsors First

When you are looking for sponsors for your association’s next event, start with previous sponsors first. Always give them first right of refusal; this makes them feel valued and appreciated. These organizations already understand the value of event sponsorship and are likely to continue to invest in this type of marketing. Plus, they already know that their audience will align with yours, which makes pitching a little easier.

Look to Association Members

Consider also requesting sponsorship from current association members who may have an interest in promoting their own business at your event. Would they like their products visible to all attendees? Reach out to members since they have prior knowledge of the association’s events and can easily see the benefit of becoming a sponsor. Members not only understand the attendees, but they will be able to recognize the benefits of placing their products at your event.

Tier your Sponsorships

Your proposal should include more than a desired monetary sum. Provide sponsors with multiple tiers of sponsorship options and outline the details of each tier. Perhaps you need $20,000 to meet your budget goals, but you should let the sponsor know that options are available. A tiered sponsor package should include a list of the options and what you will provide at each level, such as in the following:

  • $20,000 – the sponsor’s logo on all your promotional items, cross promotion of the sponsor’s latest product, sponsor’s ad on your event signage;
  • $10,000 – two of the three options under the $20,000 tier;
  • $5,000 – any one of the three options under the $20,000 tier.

By creating sponsorships tiers, potential sponsors of all sizes are encouraged and welcome to participate. In future years, you may be able to grow the lower level sponsors to higher tiers as they become more comfortable with sponsoring your association’s events.

Of course, offering tiers means that you’ll likely have to acquire multiple sponsorships to obtain the full event funding. However, you should always maintain an ongoing relationship with multiple sponsors to ensure that the association has options for its events, so this shouldn’t be concerned so long that industry relationships remain strong.

If your association has multiple events, you can also offer exclusive sponsorships for smaller events. For example, if your association is having a networking event, having only one event sponsor could be more attractive to potential sponsors seeking to gain maximum and exclusive exposure.

Want more information? Read past our past articles on association and event sponsorships:

Be Flexible

Don’t be afraid to ask the sponsor what they want in return for their financial investment. This way, you can customize a package suitable for the sponsor’s specific needs. Does the sponsor want your own brand advocates to cross-promote its products? Do they want to set up their own booth or workshop at the association’s event?

Establish what the sponsor wants and do your best to fulfill the request. At the same time, however, don’t be afraid to negotiate so that the association is still benefitting from the offer.

Look to Related Industries

Does your association offer insurance or other services to its membership via a broker partner at reduced pricing? These service companies should have a presence at your association’s events. They can be offered booth space at a slightly reduced rate or a curated sponsorship package to encourage their participation. Having the service providers onsite allows them to interact with your association’s membership and to develop face-to-face relationship with their clients; they ought to see the benefit in these connections.

Keep Event Statistics

Sponsors see your event as a form of advertising for their own company. As such, they want to see numbers that predict a successful event. Your proposal should include a spreadsheet and strong data visuals that outline anticipated attendance, attendance numbers of past events, social media engagement, and any other data that the association collects. Above all, keep your event data up to date and remember to only present data that satisfies your association’s benchmarks.

Consider these strategies a starting point. Let your creativity shine to increase sponsorship revenues for your association’s events.