Before we dive deeper into the do’s and don’ts of writing your first sponsorship letter, let’s get on the same page with definitions. A sponsorship letter sometimes referred to as a sponsorship proposal, is your attempt to secure funding from a sponsor of your choice. Of course, you’re not just asking for money; you’re also detailing what the funds will be used for while encouraging the sponsor to consider a donation.
Why People Send a Sponsorship Letter
You may choose to send a letter for sponsorship if you have hosted an event but need to raise money. With donations from one or more sponsors, you can host events of a calibre that can grow your business. By promoting the sponsor during the event, e.g. Through branding, booths, or even interactive events, sponsors can also gain some benefits.
For non-profit businesses, one thing is sure: securing sponsorship with allies in the non-profit business world is one of the essential steps to achieving your fundraising goals. Without a primary sponsor’s contribution, your non-profit runs the risk of not being able to raise the money needed to fulfill its mission. Not only that, but if you fail to reach an audience of potential sponsoring donors, you are less likely to be successful at fundraising.
Luckily, you have an effective tool: a sponsorship letter. A sponsorship letter is one of the best ways to start a conversation between your non-profit business and potential sponsors about building a mutually beneficial partnership. These letters not only explain why the potential sponsor wants to support your cause but also convey how the sponsor can benefit from this partnership and how you view the fundraising relationship.
What is a Sponsorship Letter?
Unlike a typical fundraising letter, which asks for donations, grants, contributions, volunteer work, auction items, or other gifts, sponsorship letters are slightly longer in scope. It focuses on building relationships with potential donors and treating them as partners, including offering incentives for their support.
A sponsor letter usually invites a company or individual to contribute to an event, fundraiser, or long-term support from a non-profit business. In addition to the mandatory tax certificate, donors are offered additional benefits for their support, such as a preferred seat at an event, lecture venue, or inclusion in an event advertisement.
A Sponsorship Letter Doesn’t Make Your Sale; you Do!
If your first contact with a sponsor is writing a letter asking for a sponsor, your chances of success are slim. Involving your sponsor in writing a sponsorship request or proposal is essential. You can use a sponsorship letter to get their attention, spark conversation, or summarize the findings of a recent meeting before moving on to a full proposal.
A letter makes more sense as a starting point than a full proposal, but nothing beats a quick phone call or email to a sponsor to understand their needs before writing anything down. As a last resort, sponsorship requests can help open new doors, but you have to do it right!
What to Include in a Sponsorship Letter
Here are some of the things which your sponsorship letter must have to get a better response:
- Introduce yourself and your opportunity
- The reason you contacted us
- Information about your audience
- Activation Options and Your Sponsorship
- Mention when you will follow up
Read on to learn about each section and how to use sponsorship letters to schedule meetings with your prospects. If the purpose of a sponsor’s sales letter is not to make a sale, then what is the goal? Simply put, it’s all about grabbing your prospect’s attention and getting them to answer your call or agree to meet. How do you do it? By clarifying your skills and that of your audience. Here’s a guide to follow when creating your sponsorship letter.
Introduce Yourself and Your Opportunity
It is not the time for long, multi-paragraph descriptions of your mission, vision, story, and how much money you’ll need to budget or achieve your goals. Instead, briefly describe who you are in a sentence or two about your organization. Here less is more.
The Reason You Got in Touch
Why are you contacting this sponsor specifically? For the money, suitable? Not true! Tell them why you get in touch with them! The key word here is “he”. Why did you choose your company? Know someone who suggested you connect? It is where to name your mutual contact and why they decided to meet.
What about the potential sponsor’s business goals that align with yours? Do they have a history of sponsorship opportunities like yours? Are you providing access to audiences that you think are important to them? Is the primary contact involved in an organization like yours?
It is where you show them that you’ve done your homework and that it’s not just one of the thousands of letters you send through their door.
Information about Your Audience
It is your chance to stand out! Sponsorship is about marketing and selling, both of which require a target customer to work with. Do you know your prospect’s target customer? Here you prove it. I’m not talking about basic demographics or broad generalizations like “middle-class families.” By data that describes your audience, why they’re interacting with your business, the types of purchases they’d like to make, and specific data for your prospects.
Have you purchased your prospect’s product yet? Can you help your options sell more products or retain existing customers? Most sponsor seekers omit audience data entirely, hoping their potential customers will be impressed by their cause or simply the prestige of their brand. But without audience data, you look like every other promotion on your desk. Not sure who your target audience is? Read this post for audience and sponsorship data.
Your Activation Options
Need a refresher on activation? Read our post for ideas on building a successful activation. Looking for inspiration to come up with great activation ideas? Instead of focusing on how much money you want your sponsor to make, use your sponsorship letter to show potential prospects that you understand how sponsorship works. Give them three examples of activation ideas that your sponsor and audience will love.
Show them the types of results you can offer them, e.g. branding, sampling, product placement or competition. Be specific and clear about how you work with the sponsor and how the sponsor can add value to your audience (also their target customer).
Mention When Will You Follow Up
Tell your prospects that you plan to follow up and when. Let them know that you will call them on a specific date and time or that you plan on stopping by their office on a particular date to say hello. You can tell them you want to know more about their goals and how they work together.
When you tell a prospect that you are planning a follow-up, you show them you are serious about working with them. Then add your contact information and invite them to contact them if the times above don’t work for them.
When it comes to an upcoming meeting with a sponsor seeker, it’s common for your sponsor to contact you first. It could be to say “no thanks” or to learn more about your audience and the great activation ideas you present in your letter. Either way, yes or no is better than silence, which requires you to follow it forever.
When Not to Send a Sponsorship Letter
Your sponsorship letter will be written and refined using the information presented in this guide. Before you meet that stamp, hold on! There are instances where a sponsorship letter isn’t even required. Here’s an overview.
No Connection with the Sponsor
If you think your business or non-profit is the only one looking for sponsors, think again. Thousands of your competitors will do the same. Maybe they weren’t targeting the same sponsors, but the story hasn’t changed much. Any well-known company for its sponsors is constantly bombarded with endless letters and emails. It would help if you differentiated yourself quickly, or your mail will be in the trash, physical or digital mailboxes.
That’s why it’s great to be in a relationship, as I mentioned in the last section. At the very least, your potential sponsor may be more likely to communicate with you through someone who knows the sponsor. Without them, you’re just another person in this endless pile, ignored or utterly destroyed.
No Idea About Audience Data
It is best to choose sponsors that have some overlap, whether they have the same goals or the same audience. You may know your audience very well, but sponsors cannot gather that same information if you omit audience data.
I really can’t stress the importance of this enough. Please take the time to gather data and enter your letter data about your target audience, even if only briefly mentioned. Otherwise, your letter is unlikely to be considered a second time by the sponsor.
A Tight Timeline
If your event is next week, you can forget about being a sponsor. It will be too late when your letter reaches the sponsor. Maybe they want to help but can’t. Sponsors may wish to work with you next time if you can plan better, but your lack of organization can also leave a bad taste in your mouth. Then you may miss potentially good opportunities because of your poor planning.
Best Practices for Writing Sponsorship Letters
When you review your draft sponsor letter for the tenth (or maybe fiftieth) time, follow these best practices for maximum success.
Have Lead in with Your Connection
A term in journalism is known as burying the lead (or opportunity). Ice cream is the most crucial sentence in the article. It should be one of the first sentences and certainly in the first paragraph. If you bury the lead, the story’s point won’t start until the third or fourth paragraph. Readers don’t necessarily get that far, missing the story’s point.
It’s also easy to bury the ice in your sponsorship letter if you can’t identify the key components. Believe it or not, this is not a request for your money. Instead, it all depends on who you know.
It separates you from the rest of the pack and turns you from a stranger into someone the sponsor might be familiar with. Also, as I said before, it can make the difference between the sponsor reading your letter and missing it altogether. If you’ve been to an event and met a sponsor or someone, start with that. Money claims may come later, trust me.
Give Preference to Personalization
Will this one letter be the only sponsorship request you send? Probably not. You may have an extensive list of potential sponsors to contact but know nothing else. Personalizing each of your letters is a great way to make your sponsors smarter than you seduce anyone else. Never address your letter to Mr., Mrs. or the dreaded “Dear Who May Concern”.
Find a contact at the sponsoring company and write to them specifically. Also, talk about the virtues of a company you like. While creating a personalized letter takes more time and effort than plugging a few names into a generic template, it’s worth it.
Have the Knowledge About What the Letter is About
Another reason to personalize is to keep the letter’s focus where it should be: on the sponsor himself. Now is not the time to write a lengthy summary of your goals or what you hope to achieve in the fiscal year. A sentence or two about yourself is necessary, but much depends on the sponsor. Sure, it’s like buttering it, but it’s not such a bad thing in this case.
Keep It Simple and Precise
If your sponsorship letter doesn’t fit on one page of printing paper, you’ll need to go back and trim it. Sponsors are busy people, just like you. You can’t read pages and pages and try to pull them in and convince them to donate. While there’s no hard and fast rule for word count, a few paragraphs should do.
Ask for an Opinion
Here’s another trick to get sponsors interested: ask them something. No, not money (yet), but maybe their help or thoughts on something. You acknowledge that you are an expert. They also show that you value what they say, which can lead you to a working relationship.
Set a Time for a Phone Call or Individual Meeting
You may not feel confident when you first approach a sponsor through the mail, but you should fake it until you get it. Don’t let the sponsor dictate the next time the two of you can talk. Again, they are busy and may not have time for you for weeks or months.
Even if you never hear what happened from the sponsor, the ball is in its court, and that’s it. On the other hand, if you suggest a day or time to call, as I wrote before, the sponsor has to say something, whether it’s a negative or positive response. Still, something is always better than nothing!
Imagine Yourself in Their Shoes
You know what you want (sponsor), but a good sponsor letter first considers the recipient. Now that you’ve had the chance to talk to them, what do they want? A way to give back to your community? An easy way to get your brand name out there? Did you use a halo effect? Are you allowing your employees to give something back? An opportunity to show customers that you care? Write about them.
Get it Written by Someone Who Knows Them Well
If you ask someone to write a letter that the recipient of your letter already knows, they are much more likely to read it than if the letter is from an impersonal organization. Even if you’re already in a relationship with them, it can’t hurt to remind them of their personal influence and someone already in their network.
Include a Follow-Up
You can’t expect every recipient to be instantly inspired to write a check or pick up the phone to donate. The sponsorship letter is the first communication in building a relationship. Be sure to include follow-up information, i.e. how to reach the right people in your association. If necessary, reassure them that you will do things differently. (And then make sure you follow up by phone or email.)
Avoid Boring Chit-chats
As well as eliminating “what’s my business,” remove all small talk and chit-chat from your letter. It includes things like “I hope you’re doing well”, or “How are you?” or even “What’s the weather like in [town]?”. This icebreaker doesn’t look very confident. Plus, starting this way will bury the lead, which you don’t want to do.
Sample Sponsorship Letter Templates
If you need extra help perfecting your sponsorship letter, that’s fine. I’ve updated this post with four new sponsorship letter sample templates for you. It includes sponsorship opportunities for events, athletics, cricket tournaments, and in-kind contributions.
Sample #1: Sponsorship Letter for an Event
Perhaps the most common sponsorship letter is accepting funding for an event. From conferences to exhibitions and everything in between, follow this template if you want sponsored financial support for your event.
Hi there [name of the person at the sponsor company],
I was recently in touch with [contact] about an upcoming event for my company/organization [name], and they mentioned you would be good to reach out to.
My company/organization was thinking of [theme] or [budget] for an event and would love to know what you think. We’re currently planning to host the event on [date] [time] at [location]. Our company [short description of what you do].
We believe we could attract [audience data] through this event, but we’re looking for the proper financial backing, such as from [name of sponsor company]. If you help our company/organization, your funding would [list all the perks of the sponsorship opportunity].
Do you have time to discuss this opportunity further on [date] [time]? Please let me know.
Sample #2: Sponsorship Letter for Athletes
If you have an athletic team or sports pursuit on the agenda, the above letter template won’t work. It would be best if you had one better suited to your goals, such as this.
Dear [name of a person at the sponsor company],
We met a few weeks ago at [sport event]. I remember talking to you then about your interest in sporting opportunities, so I thought I’d reach out to you now.
Our company/organization [name] is organizing a [sporting event/team] and would love to have sponsorship from [sponsor company]. The team we’ve built is talented and excited to play [talk more about virtues], but we need the backing of a company like yours because [talk about what aligns you with sponsoring].
By assisting our athletic pursuits, our team could [talk about what the sponsor’s money would provide, such as access to bigger arenas, sports gear and equipment, etc.].
I’d love to speak to you further about this on [day] [time] or whenever you’re available. Please let me know what works for you. Thank you very much for your time.
Sample #3: Sponsorship Letter for a Cricket Tournament
If you’re focusing more on a specific sport, such as a cricket tournament, your sponsorship letter won’t be identical to the one above. Here are some tweaks to make.
Hello [name of a person at the sponsorship company],
I was referred to you by [name of whoever connected you] and thought you’d be a fantastic fit as an avid cricket fan and supporter.
Our company/organization [name] is hosting a cricket tournament on [date] [time] at [location]. As one of the leading companies/organizations in [your neighbourhood], [your organization name] has…[small mention about what you do.]
It [cricket tournament name] will attract [audience data], which we noticed overlapped with some of your own company goals. Thus, we thought a sponsored partnership would be well-suited to us both.
In accepting the sponsorship, [name all benefits]. I’d be happy to answer any questions or discuss this opportunity further. What about [date] [time]? I can also gladly work your schedule. Just let me know.
I’m looking forward to hearing from you.
Sample #4: Sponsorship Letter for Contra or In-Kind Sponsorships
What if you’re not necessarily looking for funds or a donation but goods and services? That’s known as an in-kind sponsorship, and it requires a whole different type of sponsorship letter.
Here’s a template to spark your creativity.
Good morning/afternoon [name of the person at the sponsorship company],
Your name has come up through a few of our [name of organization/company’s] connections, and I thought I’d introduce myself formally. I’m [name] and my organization/company[name] does [talk briefly about your services].
My [connection name] mentioned your company because [whatever reasons you want to work with sponsor]. Our organization/company [title] is seeking in-kind donations, and we’d like to ask if you’d consider giving.
Our company/organization [name] would need [however many donations] to [whatever goal you’re reaching towards], and we believe you could be an integral help with that if you donate [talk about where the in-kind donation would be used for].
I’d love to discuss this more with you, maybe at [date] [time] if that works for you. If not, please let me know a more appropriate time.
Thank you very much,
What to Avoid in Your Sponsorship Letter
You don’t want to do some things in your starting area. In no particular order, these are:
- Special monetary requests
- Network and sponsorship levels
- Requests for sponsored products in the form of free goods
- Brochures, flyers, samples, or proposals
- Photos of stakeholders or users of your program
- Focus on needs
- Words like “who’s business” (Remember to direct the letter to a specific person)
- Assumptions about the target audience or their primary demographics
- Sponsorship agreement requiring signature or contract on the first connection
Focus on the primary purpose of the sponsorship letter: to respectfully present your opportunity and request an appointment.
And there, you have everything you need to know about sponsorship letters. It may seem like a lot of work, but targeting the right people with suitable offers is more likely to result in meaningful support from individuals and corporate sponsors – leading to more donations.