Sponsorship

Sponsorship is a business deal between two parties where both parties benefit from the arrangement. It is an agreement or contract with terms that are quite specific. Value must be given and received by both sides.

Sponsors no longer accept any club or organisation approaching them to ask for something without something being given in return.

As there are hundreds of groups searching for sponsorship monies, there is an incredible variety of sponsorship requests for potential sponsors to consider. The chances of securing sponsorship will be much better if a proposal is prepared and presented in a professional manner. 

Generally a club will be seeking funding for equipment or specific goods and resources. In return, the sponsor will expect to obtain company or brand name exposure which enhances their name and encourages people to buy their products.

As the money a company invests on sponsorship often comes from its advertising or public relations budget, be prepared to argue that $1000 spent putting a company logo on your club jumper is a better investment than money spent on advertising in the local paper, on radio or on television.

For best results your club should consider appointing a sponsorship coordinator  download Sponsorship Coordinator Job Description.

The ground work 

Begin planning and budgeting for your sponsorship a year in advance, if possible.  Make sure all planning and budgeting is in line with the overall plan of the club. Gather all interested club members to discuss what direction should be taken. This has two benefits. Firstly, it gets the entire club involved in the sponsorship drive and secondly, it gives officials an opportunity to explain why the money is needed.

The following points need to be considered before searching for sponsors:

  • The club must be clear about what product it has to offer a sponsor. If offering naming rights to a major event (for example a tournament) the sponsor must be sure of the club's ability to run that event efficiently. A poorly run event would reflect badly on the sponsor
  • It is vital that an accurate assessment of income and expenditure is made and how sponsorship will help
  • Identify funding requirements and the best form of fundraising. If it is sponsorship, what form might it take? For example, if you need money to extend the clubrooms then perhaps the best form of sponsorship could be the supply of building materials at cost price
  • Establish the value of the sponsorship to a sponsor and be specific. How much publicity can the club offer a sponsor? To a company, positive publicity equals sales, which equals money. This process starts with how many members the club has and extends to the public and media interest in the activity to be sponsored. What other benefits are there?
  • Identify potential sponsors
  • Discuss whether more than one sponsor should be approached, and whether you want one sponsor or several smaller ones. If only one is selected, make them aware that they have been especially chosen and that an early indication of their interest would be appreciated
  • Identify companies whose product or image may be well associated with your club
  • Find out who to contact within an organisation. This is only a matter of a telephone call as the receptionist should know who deals with sponsorship or publicity
  • Call the relevant person and ask for an appointment to present the sponsorship proposal. Some companies will ask that you send in the proposal before the interview so they can prepare questions.
  • If you send in the proposal, keep a copy
  • Remember that to obtain sponsorship it may be necessary to show that the club is making a financial input. Very rarely will a sponsor agree to fund the whole amount of the project/event
  • Companies are not interested in sponsoring the actual administration of your club and generally will not pay wages. Rather they want to sponsor programs or events that can be used to reflect the image of the company, or help create a positive image for the company
Preparing a sponsorship proposal

Proposals can be presented in the following ways:

  • Written
  • Verbally presented
  • Produced on a video
  • PowerPoint presentation

Every proposal must be positive, professionally presented and personalised to the targeted company. It should contain all the necessary information and not venture into irrelevant detail. 

The introduction 

The proposal should be neatly typed and presented. Begin by offering the potential sponsor an "opportunity" to raise their profile, improve their image or boost sales, etc. Keep it positive and include a short history of your club. 

Requirements 

Be definite about what you require from the deal. If its money, uniforms, travel, etc, say so in full detail. 

Budget carefully and don't underestimate your needs. Once the deal is signed, it's very hard to re-negotiate. 

Include a forecast showing budgeted costs, expected income and the resultant shortfall which the sponsor is being asked to meet. 

Information 

Include background information relating to your club and appropriate statistics such as membership size, income and expenses. Give examples of club activities. 

Benefits

This is what the potential sponsor really wants to hear.  Be clear about what your club can offer the company. Include your ideas on activities, publicity, signage, slogans, opportunities for increased product sales and media coverage. Don't lump all the information together in lengthy, wordy paragraphs. Be concise and use numbered points and sub-headings.

So, in summary the sponsorship proposal should contain:

  1. The proposal summary
  2. The benefits for the company to be linked with you
  3. What you will be offering
  4. Details about the program
  5. The program budget
  6. Your club's prospectus
  7. Future developments for the club
  8. How you will promote the sponsor and their product

All sorts of other information can be included to help your cause but keep it relevant.

Presenting a sponsorship proposal

Arrange a time to make a formal presentation of your proposal. Dress according to the standards of the company. Wear similar dress standards to the people to be met. It is important that your sponsor can identify with you immediately. Arrive promptly at the meeting with a copy of the proposal. Be up-front, enthusiastic, and get quickly to the point.

A few basic rules are:

  • Find out to whom the proposal should be addressed and their official title and spell the names and addresses correctly
  • Find out the company's sponsorship criteria - what do they want out of a sponsorship relationship?
  • Always type your proposal and take care with the layout
  • Be accurate and precise with your information. Busy people do not want to spend hours reading a proposal to try to find out what is being offered   
  • Make an appointment to 'sell' your proposal in person
  • Be prepared when making your presentation with information and your presentation style. Be the 'seller'
Securing the sponsorship

To ensure continuity, LOOK AFTER YOUR SPONSOR. 

It is a good idea to put one club member in charge of looking after and communicating with the sponsor. A one-on-one link should keep information flowing freely between the two parties. 

The sponsor will be able to quickly contact the club if the need arises. The delegated official should ensure the sponsor is kept well informed and is accorded special treatment.

Many sponsors like to use sponsorship occasions to entertain so make sure they are sent tickets to events, given free entries for their staff and are given the opportunity to meet the players.

Signing a sponsor

A contract can be drawn up by the club and taken to the meeting with the sponsor. However, a potential sponsor is likely to have definite ideas on how they want their investment employed. 

Draw up a requirements form leaving spaces for the potential sponsor to fill in their specifications. If you don't have a form, take detailed notes from which a contract can later be drawn up. Following the meeting, a contract letter can be prepared for both parties to sign. Where large sums are involved, it will be necessary to use a lawyer to draw up the contract and witness its signing.

Note: Many sponsors will have their own contract already drawn up. Take time to read all clauses and ensure your club can fulfill each aspect.

Keep the sponsor informed

Often there are delays between the time the sponsorship is confirmed and when the money is required. You should provide the sponsor with regular reports.  Send the sponsor clippings of media coverage obtained or samples of any printed material with the sponsor's name or logo on them.

Unless otherwise agreed the sponsor should see and endorse any promotional material or press releases bearing their name. 

Meet with the sponsor once the project is over to discuss how the deal went. Find out if the sponsor was happy, why or why not? If the sponsor wants to keep up their involvement find out what improvements they would like made. If the sponsor wants to cut ties with the club find out why. If the club has made mistakes make moves to ensure they are avoided in the future. 

Produce a sponsorship report which shows the history of the project from start to finish. Show how you used the sponsorship and whether it delivered all that was promised. Include a record of all the publicity obtained. 

Looking after your sponsor

Recognise and implement the means of promoting sponsors. Use your imagination.  Here are a few ideas:

  • Include the sponsor's name and logo on clothing, uniforms and bags
  • Have the sponsor's name printed on club stationery
  • Use signage opportunities at clubrooms or competition venues
  • Offer free advertisements in club magazines, on promotional pamphlets, on entry forms, etc
  • Write to all media informing them of the sponsorship and asking that they include the sponsor's name in printed articles and news bulletins remembering that they are not obliged to do this
  • Educate club members to thank the sponsor publicly when opportunities arise
  • Include the sponsor's name in the name of the club's top team
  • Offer sponsors the opportunity to sell products at various sporting or recreational venues
  • Encourage members to support the sponsor's product or services
  • Make teams or individual club members available for promotions on behalf of the sponsor
  • Give them the VIP treatment. Invite representatives to all sporting, recreational and social events - offer them the opportunity of speaking at these functions
  • Don't be afraid to seek their advice. After all, they may have been in business for many years.  They may be keen to offer suggestions and will almost certainly have valuable contacts in the commercial world
  • Involve sponsors in the club and show that their support is valued. They, in turn, will want to know their chosen form of promotion is working and that means keeping them informed of all activities

The best way of achieving this is to keep records of all press cuttings and radio and television tapes if possible. A scrapbook should be kept or, depending on the sponsor, copies of all clippings sent direct to them.

Copies of annual reports, newsletters, minutes of meetings, activity reports and photographs should also be sent to sponsors. 

Remember that sponsorship is a business deal and the company wants to get value for its investment. Continually look for further avenues to promote your sponsor.  Always remember to thank a company, whether they agree to help you or not.

The company that says no today may be in a better position to help tomorrow.

Go to Quality Club Program Assessment
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AFL 9s