Once you’ve successfully secured sponsorships for your fundraising event, how can you increase the likelihood that they’ll continue to offer their support? In this blog post, we offer a plan for before, during, and after your event to help you retain your sponsors.
Leading up to the event
Accuracy. Make sure the sponsor’s name and logo are correct in all your event materials and communications. This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s always important to double-check these details with the sponsor. A business might be commonly referred to by a nickname in the community yet want their legal name to be used in event sponsorship materials.
Avoid surprises. Communicate with sponsors as clearly and transparently as possible. If multiple sponsorship opportunities are available for a level, acknowledge that. Otherwise, a sponsor may assume exclusivity and be upset when their chosen level is not exclusive. Similarly, keep your sponsors in the loop with regard to any changes in the event plan. For example, if your sponsorship letter a few months ago described an outdoor garden party but an issue at the venue means your event will be inside at a brewery, give sponsors a heads up in a timely manner. Changes are inevitable, but if you keep sponsors well-informed they’ll have confidence that they are valued and that they’ve invested funds in a reliable organization that knows how to run a great event.
At the event
Photographs. Include photos of each sponsor on your shot list. If the format of the event allows for it, your photographer can have a volunteer assigned to them as an assistant, who is in charge of getting the names of people in each photo as they’re taken. Again, accuracy is important!
Personal connections. Assign one person, whether a board member, committee member, or staff person, to each sponsor during the event, with the goal of personally thanking them for the support during the event and keeping an eye out to make sure the sponsor is engaged.
Say thanks. You don’t need to make a long-winded speech (attendees will be happier if you keep it brief!), but it’s important to thank the sponsors publicly during the event.
After the event
Say thanks – again! Send handwritten thank you notes to each sponsor, ideally written by the person who was assigned to each sponsor during the event. This strengthens the personal connection. If you’re using a donor management system like Little Green Light, you can use contact reports to track these personal interactions.
Report accurately. Share key statistics with the sponsors as well as a summary of successes, shortcomings, and lessons learned for future events. Definitely include concrete examples of what these funds will accomplish.
Provide sponsors with event photos that they can use. Tip: Be sure you have the photographer’s permission and include how the photographer should be credited.
Ask for feedback. Check in with the sponsors about their experience and find out if they have any feedback or suggestions that you can take into consideration for next time. (Note: If you can include clear summaries of the feedback in your report, they will know you are listening.)
Create a certificate, plaque, or thank you letter for each sponsor. The idea is that it’s something that they can display in their workplace if they wish. Extra points if you hand-deliver it!
Follow up. A couple months after the event, reach out to sponsors with an update on what the funds have accomplished. Share an inspirational story with a photo conveying the impact.
Acknowledge their past support. When you solicit your sponsors for next year’s event, express gratitude for their previous sponsorship.
Businesses have limited marketing budgets, and lots of nonprofit organizations vie for their support. Set your organization apart by developing personal connections and making them feel really good about supporting your work. By following these suggestions to show appreciation and connect your sponsors with your mission, you can retain sponsors from one year to the next.
For more ideas on making your fundraising event a success and how Little Green Light can help you manage your event, check out this resource.