I’ve requested sponsorship for events and also received numerous requests to sponsor. From all this time, I’ve learned a few things and this guide is meant to be a resource for anyone hosting a coffee event. It can also be repurposed for a non-industry event. Scroll down for the template.
How to Find Event Sponsors
Take some time to write down all the sponsors you think are a good fit for your event. You can vary it up or just stick to your recurring favorites. Also, cash is gold. If you don’t want to request a product or service, cash is also an option and no one is going to turn down cash if you’re offering it as part of a prize pack.
- Industry businesses: These include local coffee companies, product/service companies, anyone who you think would be a good fit for your event.
- Local businesses: Gift cards or products from local, non-coffee businesses is a good way to engage your community.
- Like-interest businesses: Outside of your local businesses, you could source companies who may serve a similar audience like your attendees. For example, a company like Blue Apron is national, but anyone could benefit from getting some food delivered. A free month of food could go a long way. (This is not an ad for them, I have never requested a sponsorship and I don’t know if they offer them.)
Sponsor Exchange and Timeline
What can you offer a sponsor in exchange for their donated product and/or services? Any or all of the below are open to you. Just make sure you can fulfill your duties.
- Social media promotion: Be detailed in how you’ll promote them. e.g. Before event, one Facebook post; after event, one thank you post.
- Logo placement: On poster, event graphic, event page, event banner, T-shirt
- Shoutouts during event: At beginning of event, twice during the event, etc.
- Booth: Offer a booth for demoing products (usually with larger events)
- Email promotion: Include event and sponsor info in your organization’s email newsletter
Here’s a general timeline of how the sponsorship relationship should go:
- Request as early as possible
- Send mass email to sponsors on details of the event
- Promote the event, tagging sponsors if that’s what you said you would do
- Thank sponsors during the event
- Take photos during the event
- Send mass (or customized) email to sponsors to recap the event and include photos
Based on what I’ve received, the more thorough your request, the easier it is for the sponsor to say yes. Think of it like any other relationship. Don’t ask for free things, receive them, and then ghost. It leaves a bitter taste and sponsors will hesitate to say yes the next time you request something.
- Having a season of events where one sponsor can sign up for a whole set of events at one time.
- Sending an email before the event with a reminder of it happening, a link to the event page, and a poster graphic for them to share. One person emailed me with social media copy that I could copy and paste into Twitter if I wanted to.
- Sending a thank you. Simple thank you emails work. If you had press coverage, photography, blog post recaps, or even a social post with the winners and their prizes, link them.
Hi [name], I’m [name] from [company/organization]. We’re hosting [event name] on [event date] at [event time] at [event venue]. I’m seeking a sponsorship of [insert product / cash / service] to be used for [insert raffle / prizes / grab bag]. In exchange, I’m happy to offer you [insert marketing logo placement / in-person shoutout / social media promotion].
To learn more about our [company/organization], click here [website / social media]. Thank you for your time.
- We’ve secured media coverage from [media networks].
- Other sponsors include [sponsors].
- Our event page is here [link].
- This [event type] is for [event audience] and will expose your [product/service] to people who are interested in it. (Useful to explain what an event is if requesting from an outside-industry company.)
- Our past coverage of this [annual/monthly] event includes [press links].
- Our event hashtag is [hashtag].
- Our Code of Conduct is here [link] and is requested for sponsors and attendees alike.
- We are expecting [number] people to attend.
- See attached for our sponsorship levels.
Breaking Down the Template
Some parts of the template require some more explanation. Remember that the more specific you are in your request, the better.
How will the donated items be used? It’s kind of terrible to send in a donated item, expecting it to be used in the 1st place prize pack and then find out later that they relegated it to being raffled off. Sometimes, the request doesn’t even tell you what the item is being used for.
Marketing promotion is unclear. “We’ll promote you on social media.” is very general. Where are you promoting it? What are your social handles? See the sponsor exchange section above on how you can be more detailed in your request.
Sponsorship levels. Some larger events create tiers (e.g. gold, silver, and bronze) for sponsors. Each tier has a different exchange for the sponsor and they’re easy for the sponsor to glance over.
I have seen all of the below mistakes and they can be easily corrected with a little time. If you don’t know when it is or what the venue is, just say that (and then update the request when you do have the information).
- Misspelling names: of the person you’re addressing if you know their name, the name of the company, the name of the product(s)
- Not providing information about the event: date, venue, etc.
- Incomplete marketing information: you’re asking for free items, but don’t say how you’ll promote the sponsors
- Requesting too close to the event date: if shipping is required, give time for communication and shipping
- Inadequate research of the company: if the company has a history of sponsoring throwdowns, don’t explain what a throwdown is.
- Misgendering, marriage assumptions: starting the email with Dear Sir, Hi Mrs. Chen. If you don’t know who you’re talking to, just use the name of the company.
- Using the wrong logo: just request it. Don’t misconfigure it either (stretching/squeezing logo out of shape is not cool).
- Overpromising promotion: If you say you’re going to thank sponsors in social media, remember to do it.
Hopefully, this helps you organize your coffee event a little better and eases some sponsors’ pains.
P.S. Please realize that this template is exactly that. You can adjust it to fit your own needs. This was not written for you to ask me for free things via this template.