Understanding Event Sponsorships: 3 Insights for Nonprofits

Insights for nonprofits on event sponsorships.

June 20, 2023

Corporate sponsorships are an important part of the nonprofit fundraising landscape. Let’s face it – fundraising events can be expensive to host – especially if you’re planning an auction.

To host successful events without breaking the bank, your organization needs to secure event sponsorships. An event sponsorship is an agreement through which your nonprofit receives in-kind donations, marketing, or financial support from supporters, corporations, or media outlets in exchange for something of value.

But corporate sponsorships don’t appear out of thin air! Nonprofits must be able to grab their potential sponsors’ attention with compelling messages and secure funding. After all, some corporations may receive hundreds of corporate sponsorship inquiries a year.

In this article, we’ll discuss three major insights so you’ll be well-prepared to secure sponsorships:

  • Types of Event Sponsorships
  • Benefits of Event Sponsorships
  • How to Secure Event Sponsorships

Backed by corporate sponsors, your nonprofit can host successful events and drive huge profits to go back towards your cause. Let’s begin.

Types of Event Sponsorships

Several types of sponsorships can add value to your organization’s next event, whether you’re hosting a charity auction, fundraising gala, or walk-a-thon. When looking for sponsors, get creative! The more creative the ask, the more you’ll stand out. Just be sure it’s a win-win situation for your organization and the company.

Local businesses and larger corporations can provide sponsorships in the form of marketing, in-kind donations, or financial support. Let’s take a closer look at these different types of sponsorships.


Tapping a sponsor to get the word out about your event can help you reach and attract new supporters. Look toward the following sources to help amplify your reach:

  • Media companies: Team up with a media company that can create advertising materials for your event and share them on their platforms.
  • Ambassadors: Partner with social media influencers and have them share your event details with their expansive personal networks.
  • Traditional marketing: Companies with a large email database or a significant number of social media followers are great companies to partner with. Have them include your event details in their newsletter, on their website, and in their social posts.

More supporters knowing about your event increases the potential of your nonprofit meeting its fundraising goals, so don’t doubt the power that marketing sponsorships can have!

In-kind donations

With in-kind donations, companies provide a good or service at no cost to your organization in order to sponsor your event. When it comes to your mission, every dollar counts! That’s why in-kind donations can be a huge time and money savings for your organization.

For example, if your nonprofit is hosting an auction, it can be costly to secure items that will appeal to your audience. Rather than spending your budget completely on items, reach out to corporate sponsors to donate attractive auction items guaranteed to excite your audience and encourage bidding.

Financial support

Some companies may want to make a monetary donation instead of trading goods and services. This is a great opportunity to cover your event expenses, including:

  • Decorations
  • Tables and chairs
  • Promotional items like ads or posters
  • Microphones and other equipment

No matter what kind of support your sponsor provides, your nonprofit will need to offer something of value in return. This can be in the form of free marketing, such as logos on your pre-event marketing materials, shoutouts to your corporate partner during the event, and engaging social media content that highlights your partner.

Keep in mind that all companies will expect something different and be able to offer different forms of support. Tailor your incentive programs and benefits to meet the unique needs of your partner.

Benefits of Event Sponsorships

Sponsorships take time, planning, organization, and patience – but they’re essential to a successful event. Every dollar saved in the event execution process is another dollar towards what matters most: your mission.

But what other benefits do event sponsorships provide, besides financial support? According to Double the Donation’s guide to corporate sponsorships, event sponsorships offer the following:

  • Added brand visibility: When your sponsors promote your mission and event to their audiences, it expands your organization’s reach – a priceless benefit to sponsorships!
  • Increases your event’s possibilities: With additional funds, you’re able to create a fun, engaging, and highly successful event that brings your community together and highlights your mission beautifully.
  • Boosts credibility: With the backing of a well-known company in your community, your organization appears even more reputable.

Don’t forget about the long-term benefits of these sponsorships too! When you engage with individuals and businesses in the community, you’re spreading your mission far and wide and deepening the community’s connection to your cause.

How to Secure Event Sponsorships

Now that we’ve walked through why event sponsorships are important, let’s explore how to successfully secure them. We’ve broken it down into five steps.

1. Determine the type of event sponsorships needed

Reflect on your goals and the specific ways an event sponsor can help you reach them. This is a good time to visit your event strategy and budget. Take into account:

  • Your fundraising goals
  • Your event budget
  • Your to-do or to-buy list

From there, determine what’s needed both from a monetary and goods/services standpoint.

2. Develop sponsorship tiers

Create different sponsorship packages with varying levels of benefits based on how much they give. For example, for a $500 donation, you’ll include their logo on all of your pre-event marketing materials and event site.

Setting appropriate sponsorship levels and incentives depends on the types of sponsors you’re going after. If you’re working with smaller organizations, it’s not appropriate to ask for larger donations. Large corporations, on the other hand, might be more ready to support larger asks. Remember to provide a scale of sponsorship options to attract donors of all shapes and sizes.

3. Identify potential sponsors

The next step is to identify businesses that share similar values and can offer your organization value. After creating a list of potential sponsors, be sure to research each of the organizations you’re reaching out to. Take time to understand their:

  • History
  • Current philanthropic partnerships
  • Board
  • Leadership team
  • Mission

This will help you find commonalities between your cause and their business, plus show that you’ve taken the time to do your due diligence!

When conducting your research, keep these questions in mind:

  • Why did you choose this corporation?
  • What do they have in common with your nonprofit?
  • What personal connections can you leverage?
  • Who exactly will you be reaching out to about the sponsorship?

Knowing what you’re looking for before you start your outreach will help you better articulate your needs.

4. Create a pitch

Once you’ve done your research and narrowed down which organizations you’re going to target, develop a personalized pitch to each sponsor. Each pitch should include:

  • A personal cover letter
  • An outline of your nonprofit’s mission
  • An overview of your supporter audience
  • The sponsorship levels available
  • Quantitative and qualitative benefits of sponsoring

Don’t forget – some businesses receive hundreds of pitches a year, so it’s important to stand out! The OneCause guide to donation request letters recommends keeping these tips in mind when building your sponsorship ask:

  • Personalize it: Incorporate information about their business, their giving history, and why your partnership matters.
  • Appeal to their emotions: Tell the story of your nonprofit, how it was started, what services you provide, the impact of your cause, and what you will be doing with the incoming funds.
  • Come out and ask: Get to the point and ask directly, confidently, and quickly. State your case and put the ball in their court.

Remember to emphasize the key benefits of sponsoring your event, such as increased visibility for the company and the potential for new customers among your nonprofit’s audience.

5. Express appreciation

This might be the most important time to say thank you. Recognizing and thanking your sponsors will help you develop strong, personal relationships so you can secure their support again in the future.

Once your auction or event is over:

  • Let them know how much you raised and other important metrics, such as the number of attendees.
  • Outline the impact of their support.
  • Thank them for their contributions.

This will leave your corporate partner with a positive impression of your organization, making them eager to sponsor your next virtual, in-person, or hybrid event.

Wrapping Up

Corporate sponsors can make a huge difference in the success of your event, so make sure to proactively find sponsors ahead of time and deliver a compelling appeal to support your mission. Good luck!


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