With every new season there are challenges to face. One challenge that many of you know all to well is having enough funds to support your club. Having stretched what little funds you have to the limit, some support from outside sources would go a long way.
By finding sponsors your club can alleviate the stresses involved with the cost and make your club the best it can be. Having additional cash flow means you can direct your clubs funds into things like equipment and playing costs. Keeping costs down for your players is one step to increase player retention and grow your club.
Finding sponsors is not easy. So we’ll look at a few tips and tricks that will hopefully increase your ability to attract sponsors.
We will start with 10 rules for sponsorship hunters to consider
1. There’s no such thing as free money
Sponsorship is not just about your needs, it’s also about the sponsors’. It won’t work if the relationship is too lopsided one way or the other.
2. Sponsors don’t have to love you
Sponsors don’t need to share your passion for your cause in order to sponsor you. They just need to be able to see the commercial benefit. (It is important, though, that you have compatible values.)
3. Look for a good fit
Do your very best to gain sponsorship from companies, organisations or brands that seem a natural fit with your event or organisation. It’s exhausting to have to be continuously trying to ram a square peg into a round hole.
4. It’s a job for a team
Be sure your whole organisation understands why sponsorship is important to you and is prepared to treat your sponsors like marketing partners.
5. Vaccinate against logo-itis
Sponsorships are about more than sticking logos on everything. While your sponsorship agreement might include use of logos, if that’s all you’ve got to offer you can’t really ask for all that much in return.
6. Get started early
Don’t count on starting your sponsorship search one day and getting it all under way the next. These things take time (sometimes a very long time). Allow plenty of time in your forward planning.
7. Get it in writing
Firm up all details of your arrangement in writing. That way no one is left in any doubt as to what has been agreed to.
8. Aim high
It’s better to get one or two big, meaningful sponsorships in place than lots of small ones. There’s less clutter for them, and less sponsor management for you.
9. Allow time for relationship building
Don’t ever think that once you’ve got the cheque your job is done. As with most things in fundraising, sponsorships are all about the relationship. You need to be in regular contact, you need to give thanks where it’s due, and you need to ensure that you’re always doing what you said you’d do.
10. Get educated
Don’t go off half-cocked – before you start searching for a sponsor, read a book or two, start networking, and consider doing some training. The more you know, the better you’ll be.
When looking for potential sponsors, don’t limit your search to just local business, be ambitious as you will be surprised at what organisations will be willing to sponsor you.
Companies from big companies such as banks and insurance firms or even niche companies such as car clubs all offer sponsorship to grassroots sport organisations. Companies realise this idea of cause-related marketing, where people are more likely to deal with companies that give back to the community. This idea being a key pillar of the organisation’s corporate social responsibility as they want to be perceived as responsible citizens. Essentially companies realise that sponsoring grassroots sports clubs could be valuable, but like all businesses they are looking for opportunities that can benefit them back.
So do your research, write out a list of organisations you think that might be a fit and look at targeting these organisations for sponsorship.
How to attract them.
Now that you’ve identified sponsors for your club. How do you go about getting them to sponsor your club?
Create a tailored professional proposal. This will typically be far more effective that a menu of pre-defined sponsorship packages. Your proposal should be compelling and insightful. The proposal should be almost a business plan for your club, an overview into why an organisation should invest in it. It should have your goals, mission statement, your demographic, marketing plan, opportunities, sponsor fees, and importantly how they can benefit.
You need to identify what the organisation wants from their sponsorship and how they can benefit. Look up their annual report, look up their website or even call them to ask. Do they want exposure? Then plaster their brand on all your equipment. Do they want to be involved with the community? Then invite them to events have them give some gifts for a fundraiser. Make it about them, prove that your club is the right platform for them to reach their goals.
Be creative with what you can offer to them. How is your sports club going to differentiate itself from all the other sport clubs that could be going for the same sponsorship? Offer them a unique opportunity that can’t be missed. Such as offering them access to your club network, maybe even propose an idea for your club players to participate in their ads. Anything is possible, you and your club just need to think of more ways you can offer to sponsors other than just a uniform space.
Engage, engage, engage! you never know who might have a connection to a potential sponsor. Begin your search internally. Have a meeting with your club members and parents in regards to sponsorship, you never know who might know someone who is looking for a club to sponsor.
Sponsors are looking for ways that sponsorship will benefit them. Your job as a club is to prove it to them that their money is going to be put to a good use. Your club can offer them with opportunities that can’t be found, because what makes your club special are the aspects that you can leverage to potential sponsorships to help your club.
There are several big companies that have an interest in supporting grassroots sports in Australia. McDonalds and Holden are two great examples of that. Below are links to their grassroots sponsorship schemes:
PS. You can feature you sponsors’ logos and colours on a range of Spartan products, including customised balls. For more information, check out our range of custom balls here or give us a call on 1300 785 605.
References and further reading: