Great fundraising events have a mix of revenue channels. Most of the money you raise for your event should come from sponsors. The next highest amount should come from ticket sales, and the remainder of the revenue can come from other fundraising opportunities such as raffles and silent auctions.
Because most of the money for your fundraising events should come from sponsors, it stands to reason that most of the time you spend raising money for the event should be focused on finding, cultivating, and asking people and companies to sponsor your event. Here is a simple, step-by step system for raising more money from event sponsors:
1. Put together a committee.
The first step in finding and engaging sponsors is to assemble a host committee or event committee to fundraise. While you can ask volunteers to help set up, clean up, and run the event, the event Host committee should be focused on finding sponsors, selling tickets, getting auction items, and finding other ways to raise money.
Ask parents, alumni, board members, and other supporters to serve on the event committee. Make it clear that you are asking them to reach into their own networks to help raise money for the event. Give them all the information and materials they will need to raise money, and be there to support them as they carry out their work. Don’t forget to provide plenty of motivation, thanks, and recognition for their hard work.
2. Start sponsor renewals early.
If this is an event you hold on an annual basis, reach out to the sponsors from the previous year early in the planning process. Ask for their input on the event: what did they like last year, what would they like to see you do differently? Thank them for their past support. Tell them all of the great things you have been able to do thanks to their gifts. Then ask them to renew and become a sponsor for this year’s event.
Better yet, ask each of last year’s sponsors to upgrade this year. Many of your sponsors will have the capacity to move to the next sponsorship level, but they won’t do it unless you ask. Many schools ask their event sponsors to upgrade each and every year. If a sponsor can’t afford to upgrade, that’s OK—your goal is simply to renew as many sponsors as possible each year and to successfully get a small portion of them to upgrade their sponsorship level.
3. Approach annual donors about event sponsorship opportunities.
Once you have asked each of last year’s sponsors to renew or upgrade, it’s time to seek new sponsors. One great source of new sponsors is your annual donor list. Do any of your donors work for companies that might like to sponsor the event? Perhaps some of your donors even own their own companies or serve as C-level executives at larger firms? Ask these donors if their company or even their family would like to sponsor the event this year. This sponsorship should be in addition to their annual gift, which is a separate ask from your event asks.
4. Cultivate new sponsor prospects before you ask.
In addition to current donors, your school (with the help of your board and event Host committee should engage new businesses in the community for sponsorships. Start early; you’ll want to have enough time to cultivate prospects who don’t have a connection to your school before asking for a gift.
Be sure to create compelling sponsor benefits for these new prospects, but don’t forget to cast a vision that makes them want to get involved. Why is your school special? Why does the sponsorship matter to the community and to the children and families that you serve? Combining your vision and mission along with an amazing event and persuasive sponsorship benefits will allow you to successfully recruit new sponsors each and every year.
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