Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Securing Sponsors for your Event

Today, I participate in a very interesting live chat about how to secure sponsors for events - such as conferences and galas. As the coordinator for the Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference, I'm very interested in really getting the conference off the ground with sponsorship for both the event and the advertising of the event.

The discussion, which was on the Chronicle of Philanthropy website, had individuals working in the non-profit field ask questions to experts on the topic of Tanya Baskin, vice president of corporate partnerships for the Special Olympics; David Hessekiel, founder of the Cause Marketing Forum; Chad Royal-Pascoe, managing director of national strategic alliances for the March of Dimes; Emily Taylor, a co-founder of SponsorPark; and Karen Hughes White, director of corporate relations for Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

A couple of important things that I learned included that developing a relationship sponsorship will most likely take 4-6 months (I need to get cracking for the November Conference), that having a connection to someone in the company that you're soliciting for sponsorship is key, and that you need to do your homework about how that company's goals are similar to your own in helping them make a decision about whether to sponsor you or not.

I asked a question about sponsorship for conferences and what their recommendations would be. Emily Taylor from Sponsor Park responded: "Whether it's a conference or any other kind of sponsorship, you still need to consider the audience, the benefits you can offer a sponsor, and I highly encourage you to offer tiered package options to distinguish different levels of sponsorship support - I don't recommed a la carte sponsorship for this type of event. Once you've considered your audience do your homework to find alignment and start making phone calls. According to IEG 55% of sponsorships come from cold calling. Agencies or connection resources are also a big help since they have established relationships"

It's good to know what companies prefer and that cold-calling works. In the next couple of weeks, I will be searching out companies whose mission is concurrent with the Tutor/Mentor Connection and hopefully they will be willing to sponsor our conference. If you have any suggestions as well about securing sponsors, please leave a comment. Thanks!

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