Student events and conferences are funded in a number of ways:
- Corporate Sponsorship
- Event registration fees
- Membership fee
To succeed in obtaining a sponsorship, you need to adequately plan and prepare in advance. It’s important for you to have a professional and well organized approach to companies. It also ensures you put enough effort from the start to build a good working relationship between the company and your group.
In this booklet, you will find helpful information as you start on your mission of raising funds to support your MBA society or MBA club goals throughout the year.
If you have any ideas or questions to help improve this guide, please contact us.
Table of contents
- Start now (or yesterday, if you could)
- What no one will tell you about asking for sponsorship (the benefits for you)
- Preparing your case
- What companies want
- What can you offer?
- Sponsorship package
- Researching for companies
- Involve your school
- Your attack plan
- Handling a “no, thank you”
- Closing a deal
- Prior and during event
- Maintaining relationship after event
- Send us your comments
Leave your academic email and we will send you all templates and checklists of this article.
- Timeline Checklist
- Sponsorship Valuation Template
- Common Healthcare Conference Sponsors
- Prospect Tracking List
- Sponsorship Package Template
- Examples of Sponsorship Packages
- Contract Template
- Invoice Template
- Fulfillment Report
- Photo Guidelines
- Thank You Template
There are two sources of sponsorships:
- In-kind – this is mostly a forgotten source.
Whilst most MBA clubs would just focus on money, companies that sponsor MBA societies mostly prefer sending their representative as guest speakers at events.
As MBA club leader, you should focus on raising capital to give room for flexibility in spending. Do not forget in-kind support which can sometimes be worth far more than what you can raise.
Other sources of funding to support your club activities may include:
- Ad hoc funding for small events which are planned with short notice
- Events registration fees
- Fundraisers such as post-happy hour parties, candy and flower sales and selling school branded merchandise.
- School on-campus funding from the Central Fund which can be used for the whole year.
Note: Raffles, Lotteries and Auctions are prohibited in most schools.
You can come up with articles with information about off-campus funding such as:
- Sponsorship is a business transaction between a company and your MBA club/society that provide funds for event or project undertaken by your group.
- Fundraising involves raising funds towards a certain charity, cause, club or project. There are various methods of fundraising such as sponsorship challenges, events and donations.
Scope of this article
This article only covers fundraising for corporate sponsorship purposes which include monetary and in-kind sponsorships. It does not cover fundraising for charity though principles are the same.
The assumption is that you clearly understand your event.
Warning and important notice
- You can get assistance from staff members in the Corporate Relations and Career Center on how to come up with a good fundraising strategy. They can also advise on best practices.
- Events organization has many moving parts. Off-campus fundraising requires long lead-time and good organization hence a need to start at least 6 months in advance.
- It is very important to be aware that each school has its policies and procedures about spending and fundraising. Schools must abide by the law and there are penalties and liabilities you should be careful about. Familiarize yourself with these policies. The school Finance Office reserves the right to access and audit financial accounts of student organizations to verify appropriate use of MBA club and conference funds.
- For most schools it is mandatory for all sponsorship materials and prospects list to be approved by Corporate Relations before engaging in any solicitations. It is not permitted to solicit for funds from MBA alumni as individuals.
- MBA sponsorship funding must be used as per the sponsor’s intentions. Always ask if you are not sure.
Start now (or yesterday, if you could)
Organizing an event is a daunting process. Although finding sponsors is very time consuming, it is most fundamental for the existence of the event.
The sponsorship cycle is long. There are certain things that you should align with to get resources including:
- Clubs’ recertification and auditing occur around year-end during spring term. This is the best time to submit your budget for next year.
- You will be required to discuss funding needs and review events with Student Office 6 months prior the event.
- Develop prospect list and sponsorship materials. 6 months prior to the event.
- Engage your School Corporate Relations Office to get approval for solicitation materials and prospect list which takes at least a week. Student Office should be in copy, and this should be done 5 months prior to the event.
- Start hunting campaign immediately after approval. You will need to book appointments with marketing managers in various companies to review your proposal. It should be done 5 months prior.
- Engage Corporate Sponsors regarding delivery of benefits which should be 3 months prior to the event.
It’s clear that you must start organizing for large events before the beginning of the academic year. You will need to oversee the budget for smaller events also. In addition, there is a lot of relationship management hence the need to start as early as possible.
However, don’t think it is not too late. The Students Committee gives a small allowance for ad hoc events within the year. It is possible to submit requests within a month notice which mostly apply for small events.
What no one will tell you about asking for sponsorship (the benefits for you)
- It’s all about networking. Sponsoring a club or a society is all about relationship building. You must maintain a healthy relationship all year round. Note that schools, clubs, and corporations are social constructs.
- The same way you got help from the previous leader, help the next leader. Don’t treat the financial support as a one off event as this is one of the major reasons why many clubs do not re-secure sponsorship. They do not emphasize on the benefits of the event to event sponsors. To enhance this, you can plan for mixer evening or publish regular career updates or blog posts and send them to sponsors to inform them of what you have achieved.
- This is an opportunity for you to enhance both your team and your individual sales and leadership skills. Align your team, plan ahead, take ownership, seek advice, and have fun.
- It is also a good opportunity to demonstrate to companies your dedication to a job well done. We will show you later how to win over sponsors by giving them what they want.
Preparing your case
A Marketplace business model
You need to balance two different wills; the club requires money while the sponsor just wants to send a speaker to the event. Also, your event has a specific audience interested in your cause. And although sponsoring companies are not as interested in your cause, they are interested in your audience. Your role as a club leader is to persuade both parties to meet at the middle ground.
According to IEG (global authority on sponsorship and a provider of sponsorship consulting), much as sponsorship recipient may be nonprofit, it is important not to confuse sponsorship with philanthropy. Whilst philanthropy involves supporting a cause without commercial incentive, sponsorship is done with the aim of achieving commercial goals.
Also, sponsorship is not advertising since advertising involves direct promotion through airtime or space purchased for that specific purpose. Sponsorship promotes a company in regard to the sponsee.
Sponsorship has more benefits compared to advertising in that it offers access to live audience, direct connection with clients and on-site sampling.
Valuation is a tool that can help you deal with sponsorships professionally. Although it can boost your revenue, it requires effort, time and a lot of commitment. However, MBA club events and conferences are not run for profit. In addition, Business Schools’ Corporate Relations offices have vast experience interfacing with companies, hence they already have much of the information you need. You can, therefore, skip the valuation stage since you will move faster with Corporate Relations Office supervision.
In case your event is for profit, or you are not achieving desired results from your prospects, you can contact us for initial guidance on how to properly set up valuation and to avoid selling yourself too short.
Align your team
It is important to ensure your team understands your pitch clearly. Clarify about location, dates and event’s themes. Have the potential sponsor in mind when developing a theme. Sponsor will not support the event if the theme is not relevant to their field of operation. Consider the following:
- Identify one person to spearhead fundraising. Let them work alongside the committee.
- Ensure all committee members understand fundraising policies.
- One person should be given the mandate to review and finalize all agreements; mainly the head of the committee.
Planning the budget
When it comes to developing a budget for your event, work with previous year’s budget and make necessary changes as per the amount of funds you anticipate to raise. Ensure you have done proper research of the industry before you put down sponsorship projections. For instance, it will be challenging to get funds if your are planning a technology event and the tech sector is facing various challenges at the moment. Don’t feel obligated to do the same things that were done in the previous year. You can prepare a larger or smaller event, or you can revamp your event completely.
The following questions will be fundamental during event preparation phase:
- What are the necessary resources for your team to progress?
- Why do you need sponsorship?
- Exactly what are you looking for-resources, money, venue hire, equipment or all of them?
A typical event will require the following:
- Transport cost: train, bus, or airplane fares.
- Catering, refreshers and meals.
- Accommodation for speakers
- Gadgets and merchandising
- Marketing supplies such as banners
- Online marketing
- Supplies for logistics and operations
- Other equipment
Calculate the budget by estimating the audience and organizing all requirements in a sheet. To have a good picture of the number, contact your school catering, vendor, and providers. Work with estimates during preparation. Don’t wait to have all the numbers. Overestimate your calculations.
Sponsorships, donations and gifts are taxed in some countries. You should consider this during your total budget estimation.
What companies want
First and foremost, companies want a return on investment they make. They will only sponsor an event if they are getting result at a cheaper rate compared to other marketing strategies.
Remember, companies do not have your cause in mind when sponsoring your event. They need your audience.
You need to understand what your audience wants in the event in order to attend, and who is attending the event. Because you, as MBA student, are part of the audience, it is easy to know this most of the times.
Sponsors are concerned about your event’s audience
The most important information you can offer to sponsor is the audience data.
Sponsors focus on such things as:
- Coming purchases and work benefits
- Demographic information
- Buying habits and interests
- Your ability to impact a buying/hiring decision.
- Employer/brand preferences
The more data you have about your audience, the easier it is to build an event that will please your audience, as well as standing out in the crowded sponsorship market.
How companies decide who to sponsor
MBA events provide companies with an opportunity to:
- Achieve sales target by increasing product sales.
- Create brand awareness, positive publicity, and enhance brand visibility. They want to be part of your club success.
- Reposition brand and employee/consumer perception
- Demonstrate community goodwill and social responsibility
- Be different from or block competition
- Achieve targeted recruiting by accessing targeted niche markets and reaching employee pools.
Clearly illustrate why this is important for the company. Highlight such points as:
- Opportunity to interact with students.
- Recruitment possibility
- Heightened awareness, on-campus
- Intersects with corporate need.
- Marketing goals
Recruit MBA employees
Sponsorships are also gauged based on their capacity to offer incentives to a company’s workforce.
According to Fortune and FT articles, companies go to an extent of spending up to $10,000 to $20,000 on recruitment on a single MBA hire. Courting MBA students requires a lot of resources and time, like sending employees for speaking engagements and starting recruitment even before students get foot out of campus. Events are a cheaper alternative for companies to reach to potential employees.
Case competitions are also amazing networking opportunities. In fact, the judges and sponsoring organizations often use the opportunity to scout for top MBA talent. Several students I’ve worked with were offered interviews, internships, and even full-time jobs as a result of their participation in a case competition.
Brian Precious, Going Beyond Grades In Business School – Poets and Quants
Increase sales, lead generation and brand positioning
It is no secret that MBA students are among those with high spending powers. Many luxury brands go to business schools seeking product and brand exposure at events and in club communications. They also look for introduction to an inspiring group of business leaders and avid consumers.
What can you offer?
The nature of sponsorship is usually like a business transaction and companies need to understand what they are getting in return for offering sponsorship to events.
Survey your audience for specific stats
Business schools have data sets composed of students’ stats. Intake data can help you in building similar set of data about your club members.
You can think about specific features about your club members such as:
- Number of members in your club.
- What motivates members to participate to your club?
- Are these members in other clubs?
- List of products that members have purchased in the last 2 years.
- Number of hits to your MBA club or conference website.
- What do they like more to participate in the club?
- How many games or competitions have your MBA club won?
- What are the past achievements for your MBA club?
For conferences, survey your audience and build a similar set of data points about the attendants and participants. Answer questions such as:
- What was their motivation to attend this event?
- Which other industry association are they members?
- How long have they been in their respective sectors?
- The amount of budget they control annually?
- How many staff do they manage?
- What type of business purchases do they make?
- What are different concerns and trends in their industry?
- Are there big names attending the conference?
- What are they willing to spend more on?
For more important data points you should ask what your sponsors are interested in! Allow your sponsors to include questions in your survey to help them with market measurement and research of their sponsorship. You will get a list of questions from your sponsors if you speak to them at the start of the process.
List sponsorship inventory
The main objective of developing an inventory is to build the biggest list possible.
Start the process by ‘logo placement’. Whilst many people think that sponsorship is all about logo placement, this is just a part of the process. In fact, it is the least valuable. Most valuable assets are determined by your sponsors; those that your sponsor want more. Highly valuable assets are mostly intangible. They include:
- Speaking opportunities
- Cause marketing
- Thought leadership
- Category exclusivity
- Conversion rates
- Meeting with industry influencers or celebrities
- Product endorsement
Here is a list of things that enhance the process:
- Physically survey the event venue and if possible take pics. Look for any opportunities of logo placement and areas that naturally have significant traffic.
- Consider whether you will stage photos anywhere or they will occur in certain areas such as finish line or stage.
- Digital assets that you have such as backlinks to your sponsors and content marketing opportunities.
- Offer video in your emails or website. Is it possible to record the sponsors as they give information required by audience such as registration information?
- Sponsorship value is increased when you clearly define your audience and there is access to that audience. Is it possible to connect your audience to your sponsors in a unique way other than just a simple logo placement?
- Chances of offering naming rights to prospects?
- Stories that you or your sponsor can share with the audience?
- Is it possible for you to offer supplier contracts or product exclusivity?
Sponsoring assets examples
- Opportunity to share company materials at the start of the MBA conference/event, representatives, or a chance to speak in the event.
- Exclusive naming rights
- Chance to meet and recruit students
- Resume book of participants.
- Job listings which include description of job opportunities available in sponsorship company on MBA club’s website. The postings can be unlimited for 1 year.
- Promotion of sponsorship company’s jobs/internships through flyers.
- Having an event that is tailored to feature sponsorship company.
- Free registration at annual career fair.
- Getting opportunity to sponsor transport, catering, shirts or official jerseys.
- Getting a publishing surface such as flyers, book covers, walls, tables or chairs.
- Getting more visibility through company logo recognition at the beginning of every lecture or on event materials.
- Reinforced messaging in literature which is given to members and attendees in the event.
- Firm night events where MBA students can meet professionals and learn more about the industry.
- Students getting recruiting exposure through networking and curated events.
- Verbal recognition of sponsorship on stage or slide loop.
- Giving out company branded T-shirts.
- Helping sponsors to collect feedback and data about their products.
- Industry exclusivity
Sponsorship value mainly depends on the benefits of publicity to the sponsors and not really the event organizing cost. You should come up with a list of ways that the sponsors can benefit. Let your sponsor understand that you have options to help them achieve their goals. These includes:
- Product placement
- Brand building
- Thought leadership
- Sponsor database growth
You can use materials from last year to demonstrate to your sponsors how you supported other sponsors you worked with to achieve their goals.
It is important to note that sponsorship is a promotional tool for companies to get into the student market. It helps them raise their profile and make valuable connections with students. It is good to survey companies and ask what they value most.
Brief list of events types
- Half day events or less: Lunch, dinner, coffee chats, mixers, BBQ, or speaker night.
- Full day event, weekend, or multi-day: speaker series, workshops and seminars, treks (domestic or regional), golf tournament, trekking in the woods, place visits.
- Large events: international treks or conferences.
There are 3 ways through which companies can sponsor your events:
- Sponsoring a small one-off event.
- Purchasing a full year package where they appear in many smaller events.
- Sponsoring a conference or a large event.
A list of types of sponsorship
As the MBA club president, you would always prefer monetary sponsorship. It is more flexible and easier to use when needed. However, you should not forget in-kind gifts such as donations/awards or goods/services that are not in cash. In-kind gifts should obviously be recognized only when the gift helps with bottom line of the event budget (i.e. complimentary printing of a marketing piece). There are two types of sponsorships:
- In-kind sponsorships such as food and beverages, beer, wine and spirits, outdoor and sports gear, celebrity speakers
- Monetary tiers such as one-off event sponsorship or along-the-year package.
Common tiers for each event type
Common tiers for small events are usually a compensation for food and drinks. You can spend between $10 and $50 per person. This depend on event duration, distance (where transport is needed) or event’s fanciness (dinners costs more). You can therefore ask for $100 to $1000 for an event of 5 to 100 people. In addition, ask for food, beverages, spirits, and alumni/corporate speaker as in-kind sponsorship, or gear/gadgets for sports/outdoor events.
In case of events such as competitions or workshops where that takes an entire day or weekend, you may spend more for breakfast, snacks, logistics (treks), and gadgets. Target $1000 to $3000 per sponsor.
An international trek or scholarships for conferences may cost up to $4000 per person which includes flights and accommodation. Companies may participate with part of the trek.
Conferences have larger audiences hence requires more effort to organize. Companies are expected to participate more in conferences. Monetary tiers are common, and you can have sponsorship categories such as silver, gold or platinum. They range from $1000, $2000, $5000 for summits and from $5000, $10,000, $20,000, $30,000 for week-long events. Unless it is their main products, companies don’t pay directly for food and logistics. In-kind sponsorships are bounded to speakers and gadgets.
If you end up having standard sponsorship packages, just include them in your MBA club/sponsor’s web page. Also, show your current sponsors and steps plus benefits of becoming a sponsor.
Researching for companies
Together with your committee, come up with a list of your past sponsors. Also, check for any company that might have a personal connection with a member in your team. Start working on this list and prepare proposals to them.
For companies that that you have never worked with, ensure they have interest in your audience. This will increase your chance of getting sponsorship.
Always remember the audience. Don’t be intimidated by companies that may not relate to your activities or audience at first sight. For instance, if you are Real Estate Club organizing a Golf Tournament, you should look beyond golf equipment suppliers. Again, if you are organizing an event on healthy food business, try checking fitness and sports equipment companies.
Check previous experiences
Start by coming up with a list of target companies for sponsorship. Do your research well and be strategic about the companies and industries you want to target. It is important to clearly understand your audience, the trends and landscape in the industry. Just because you got sponsorship from a certain company last year doesn’t mean they will sponsor you this year. Your chances of getting sponsorship depends on how compelling your data is about your audience.
Developing Prospect list
When developing a list of prospects, identify companies that:
- Are industry-related
- Have supported your MBA club in the past
- Recruit at your school
- Have a corporate interest in the topic. It does not have to be the primary business of the sponsoring company.
- Have alumni contact
- Sponsor other clubs or similar events in the field
Tap into your network
Start with identifying contacts in target companies. Put the list in shared Corporate Sponsorship Tracking document (get the Corporate Sponsorship Tracking sheet here). You can email the program coordinator to get the link. To get contacts, you can use:
- Your personal networks
- School colleagues
- Career portal
- Former workmates
Different search methods can be helpful in identifying and researching potential corporate sponsors. These include online databases like Hoover’s and Center’s Foundation Directory Online. They can be accessed through Corporate websites or your School Library. You can also analyze clubs of peer students. Online tools include:
Involve your school
Plan a meeting with Student Affairs team and the Career Manager who cover the industry that you are interested in. They will give you recommendations after reviewing your target list.
Importance of involving the school
It is a mandatory to involve the Corporate Relations office when starting an outreach or organizing an event in some schools. They want to understand how the club will be involved. Involving the school is important because:
- They maintain years of relationships with corporations. Find out who to ask about the companies that the school has already set up a process.
- They help streamline the outreach. They already fine-tuned sponsorship best practice “packages”. They have a database of very useful information.
- They have standardized outreach process across student clubs. They can advise on you on how viable your proposal is.
- Involving the school will help ensure there is no conflict among clubs in terms of target sponsors by different clubs. They maintain a shared database to prevent this because there are many clubs looking for sponsorship.
- Collecting money through the school minimizes your liability and help in tracking the money. Schools usually send events to corporations and let them buy into it.
When not to involve your school
In case your school does not use admin to provide sponsorships, or probably you just don’t want to involve the school, do the outreach at students’ level. School admin may have a system that is not flexible to reach out, but large clubs could be having their own networks. Involving the school has its own disadvantages:
- They manage all the money -processing can be very slow.
- There are many loops to go through school administration.
- Schools claim that they are looking for sponsors who have not controversy. However, the just a list of corporate names in a(n old) database.
If it is well run, student-run clubs can be self-sufficient:
- Ensure school administration is on board and understand students’ actions.
- If the administration and CMC understand the importance of student clubs, they will be fine.
Your attack plan
You now have a clear goal in mind. You know who to approach and why they would connect to your society or sports club. Start putting down a sponsorship proposal. Prepare how you will make the official ‘ask’.
This is a general layout and guide for a simplified sponsorship package. The assumption is that you know the worth of your assets, event attendees or other target demographic.
- First page: only put the logo and the name of the opportunity. Keep it simple.
- Second page: describe the audience and how they connect with the sponsoring company. Show the number of people reached by media, expected audience, psycho demographics stats of the audience among others.
- Third page: describe your club, event, and program in 3 paragraphs.
- Fourth page: showcase the sponsorship opportunities with titles connecting audience to the sponsor, ‘Engage MBA in industry X’.
- Inform your prospects that these are recommendations to have the process start. Let them have a look and give you suggestions on how they wish to engage your network.
- Prepare pictures and maps of the displays layout. Make a screenshot of the position on web and media.
- Fifth page (Activation): show what the company gets in each tier. You don’t want to just give Gold, Silver or Bronze packages especially if you have experience in sponsorship. You want to have a list of ideas that will benefit both parties. This will help get the company open for negotiation.
- Sixth page: encourage the sponsor to get back to you with recommendations on what you should change.
Remember: proposals don’t sell sponsorship, people do! Keep the proposal simple and think of it as a conversation opener. It is rare that you will get sponsorship from a sponsor when they just read the proposal.
You can include:
- Your past successes such as annual report and favorable press cuttings.
- Your future objectives – what you need and future actions.
- Why the company need to sponsor you and what are their return on investment.
Your proposal should be tailor made for each company you approach. Make it unique for each sponsoring company.
- customize the proposal: a generic one will not be read.
- Understand that different companies will have different approaches to your audience.
The decision to try in-kind sponsorship is purely personal. It is based on your goals, resources, time and ability to activate sponsorship.
It is easier to get support if you ask for specific items. For instance, football tournament was used as an event to ask for Nike balls. In addition, they got energy drinks and jerseys which are a form of support.
Submit sponsorship plan to Corporate Affairs office. It should include:
- Detailed budget of the event.
- Event description including proposed theme and purpose.
- Definitions of levels of sponsorship.
- List of potential sponsors
- A sponsorship request letter
Start emailing prospects after they have approved. Don’t do mass mailing. Personalize solicitations and make contacts. For each target, develop a customized pitch. You can customer images as well. If you have someone in your team skilled in graphic design, render some images of the company logo positioning.
Ask the right contact
Your sponsorship proposal may be the best researched, designed or even priced. However, it will not work if you target the wrong person. Look for people with titles such as:
- Business development
Mostly, those with Corporate Social Responsibility in their title handle corporate philanthropy. A CSR person would only be important to show you the right contact for your sponsorship proposal.
Let the initial contact be through mail. Include a print out of the proposal and your marketing plan. Also include a brief cover letter that has an introduction. Personalise the letter. Tell them you’ll follow up.
The key of soliciting sponsorship is following-up.
- Calibrate your message accordingly, especially if the event is new in a way.
- Make a follow up via voicemail within 3 working days. Leave a message if it’s during non-standard working hours. Demonstrate enthusiasm.
- Prepare for the next call. Expect obstacles and prepare your responses well.
- Make a follow up on your call and email on business hours with a phone call.
- Prepare a draft email with relevant details that you will send while calling your prospect.
- Solicit donation during the call instead of scheduling for a meeting.
- Plan for a face-to-face meeting only if the sponsor requests it. This is a good opportunity for you to build rapport.
- Also, one reason why you would invite a donor for meeting is to get their advice. People are fond of sharing ideas. It is helpful for non-profit to understand the perspective of people outside organization. Ask for advice on how to organize an event.
Consistently make follow-up without failing. Assess your progress regularly more so when requesting funds. When making request, give all your targets a deadline.
Handling a “no, thank you”
To start with, never misinterpret lack of commitment as a sign of a “no”. Statements such as “I don’t have budget now”, “just email me something”, “I am very busy right now”, “give me time to think through it”, are all show of lack of commitment. You should not give up until you get a “firm no”. Mostly, your prospects are genuinely busy, or they don’t have resources now, or they need to seek clarification with their bosses. Handle each objection individually and help them overcome these challenges. consider the following approaches:
- No budget – what about instalments?
- Busy – request for just 5 minutes call.
- Send email – tell them you want to customize your discussion and ask them about their goals.
- Let me think about it – ask what is blocking them from deciding.
Don’t stop until you get a “firm no”. If you do though, stop and don’t be pushy. Be courteous and politely request them to give you feedback about your approach or proposal. Ask them for helpful ideas that can help you when seeking for support in your next company.
The most important thing is to maintain good rapport with your targets. A good company might not be able to support you that period because of lack of resources or business reasons. Having good relationship is key to getting sponsorship in future.
Closing a deal
You have just received good news that you were successful in obtaining sponsorship from one of your target company! What’s next?
Once you receive a commitment, appreciate the donor. Review the steps necessary to get payment promptly.
Don’t forget to outline key dates for activation of each sponsoring asset.
Talk to the sponsor about payment and raise invoice. Ensure you have obtained payment upfront before the event happens or before branding your publicity materials with sponsor’s logo. Student Activities staff will assist with creating an invoice to the sponsor requesting for payment when the contract is signed.
A contract is crucial because the sponsorship nature is a business transaction. A contract will protect both the sponsor and yourself. It will clearly outline activities happening on either side of transaction which prevents confusion. It should include:
- Event title or Society/Club name
- Pertinent event dates – start/finish.
- Financial terms – amount, Inclusions/exclusions of VAT, payment dates etc.
- What you will do for sponsorship
- What the company will do for sponsorship
- A place for you and the sponsor to sign and put dates
- The agreements should be in writing to show clearly what is going to be received and provided.
Don’t sign anything
It is a requirement to inform Corporate Relations Office of the sponsor and your agreement. This is important because contracts (which are signed by members of the committee) binds individuals and not the Students’ Society/Club. Most schools don’t allow committee members to make agreements on the Club’s behalf.
Invoicing and getting payment
Once sponsorship has been confirmed, fill the check Processing Form from the school and invoice the company.
There is an internal form in many schools that is used in tracking sponsorship checks. Check processing means that the club only receive money one month after receiving the check.
Find out whether the company require the gift to be exempted from taxation. Ask if they need a tax ID number or form from University. Different rules and steps apply for each case. You will need to involve the Finance Office for assistance in filling forms (W-9 for US) and understanding taxes.
Note: you should know what the taxes and rules for sponsorship are. In the US for instance, clubs do not give W-9 forms. If you forget to enquire about tax exemption status of the gift, the check will be sent directly to the club hence putting the sponsor, school and yourself in awkward position. Remember to ask.
Prior and during event
Create activation strategy to ensure you have activated your sponsors fully. At the campaign’s end, you will need to give your sponsors a report on sponsorship fulfilment to be accountable to them. It is a formal report proving that you did all that you committed to do. Refer to the sponsorship package to check deadlines, dates and who is accountable for doing what from your team. Have a person in charge of the following areas:
- Contract fulfilment
- Taking footage/pictures
- Fulfilment reports preparation
2 to 3 months before the event
- Contact Corporate Sponsors about benefits delivery. Find out how they would like their name to be put on materials and high definition placement of company logo for use in publication. Confirm their attendance to the conference, and payment invoicing.
- Sponsors require their credit lines in certain wording. Reach out to communications department if you require to incorporate logo of sponsor on your materials.
- Make a booking of resources such as rooms and projectors.
- Make regular follow up with every sponsor.
- Check whether sponsors wish to have a mid-contract meeting; formal feedback session. This is a good chance for you to assess how happy the sponsor is or how you can make them happy.
- Extensively involve the sponsor in event and update them on progress.
- Appreciate and keep them informed. Have a brainstorming session with them.
- Acknowledge your sponsors at the event.
- Ensure all benefits to the sponsors are fulfilled. Be the event contact person to the companies.
- Take notes of all informal mentions and buzz that you remember about your sponsors.
- Take notes on media coverage
- Take videos and pictures of logo placement, assets, signage, website screenshots, program ads, product placement, booths, speaking opportunities, action shots when sponsors are engaging event attendees etc.
You can come up with a fulfilment report by making simple chart showing all benefits that were promised to the sponsors. Inform them whether there was fulfilment on the promises or not for each benefit. Use attendees’ data, did people use the program? What was web traffic? Outline anything showing return on investment and demonstrate how your team delivered above expectations.
Maintaining relationship after event
One of the most crucial thing is maintaining a good relationship with sponsors after the event. This will be important for you to make the relationship long-term.
Thank you note
Firstly, thank the sponsoring companies! Stewardship is key. Send a thank you note to each sponsor, in-kind donor, and speakers. Write a letter to your sponsors appreciating them for their support and recapping on event’s success. Corporate Relations Office should be in copy.
Send your appreciation to sponsors promptly after receiving funds and after event. Explain how important their sponsorship was to your event. If there were unpaid funds/commitments, make a follow up.
Prepare and send a written card as well. A nice blimp of human touch.
Send photos and stats
Bring together your fulfilment report with pictures and footage of the event. Make a brief description of the event and any successes.
- The audience’s stats would be most important
- Achieved goals
- Number of all attendees/student participants
- Communicate event’s tenor – creating electric, buzz, excitement, thoughtful etc.
- Outline key specifics in event such as how event was a wonderful opportunity to talk about global warming.
- Event’s benefit to sponsor such as newfound sponsor’s interest.
- Show where and how sponsor was recognized and who they managed to reach – included in email newsletter, website, posters etc
- Make a summary of contributions received and benefits to sponsors.
- Send event’s videos and photos
- Make a unique recognition of your sponsor – awards, social media, handwritten notes.
- Explain to sponsors how their fund was spent during the year and inform them of successes. You can show where you kept your promises such as branded posters and adverts, programmes, ball tickets.
Asking for feedback
By now you know your sponsor so well that you can ask them for their honest feedback. You can ask the following questions:
- How was fulfilment report?
- In your opinion, how was the campaign/event?
- Did you achieve what you expected from your target audience? What are the areas for improvement?
- What should I change/improve to make sure you come back next year when I organize the same event?
If the sponsor confirms they want to come back again, let them sign an updated agreement. You can lock them in immediately! If the answer is no, you have some time to engage and get them back.
Add testimonials to your CV (on LinkedIn)
- Organized conference/events in Y Business School
- Established/enhanced partnerships between W companies and Z Club
- Managed to sell all M seats towards conference planning within 5 days
- Raised N in sponsorship
- Attendants success rate: 95% among sponsors and 97% testimonials
Preparing materials to be used by next leadership team
Towards year end, send appreciation card to your sponsor. It should include your successes and interest of your ex-club throughout the year.
Maintain database, transfer knowledge, capture insights about fundraising following the event, and pass this to future leadership of the club.
If it is of interest to you, and the event was successful, you’ll probably have developed a professional and personal relationship with company employees that you can leverage.
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Answer to your questions
Competing firms can both sponsor my event?
Why do you suggest not to meet in person?