During the coronavirus pandemic, many nonprofits have needed to navigate their in-person fundraising events to the virtual space. And while many aspects translate seamlessly, one of the questions we hear time and time again is: “How do I get sponsors for my virtual event?”
It’s a great question, because a solid group of sponsors can completely change an event. It’s also a question with a big answer: there are quite a few things you can do to entice sponsors and get them excited about your event.
That’s why we’ve created this full guide to recruiting sponsors for virtual events. Let’s take a look at the best ways to recruit sponsors for your virtual fundraising event.
What Do Sponsors Want?
The most important question, and the guiding principle for all of your sponsor recruitment, should be “what do sponsors want?” If you know what sponsors are looking for, you can provide benefits that will meet their needs. Met needs=sponsors signing on.
In general, here’s what sponsors are looking for:
- They want to see the benefits you offer as worth their marketing dollars. They’re paying to market to your participants.
- They want to know who they will reach, how they will stand out, and what they will gain. You can provide this for them by knowing your audience, having sponsor perks that get their logo and name out there, and details about the reach of your event.
- They want potential clients to see their name and logo, and follow up. It’s your job to find benefits that will make this happen. We’ll talk more about specifics below, but keep in mind that you’re trying to create opportunities for your participants to get more involved with your sponsors.
One of the best things you can do is work individually with sponsors to create options that they’ll love. Get to know individual sponsors so that you can anticipate the kinds of benefits they’re interested in.
For example, if one of your sponsors always wants the biggest and best placement for advertisements, create a pop-up option on your event webpage with their logo and name.
On the other hand, if you have a sponsor who desperately wants to talk directly to potential clients, give them “office hours” where they can schedule one on one time with interested participants. Don’t be afraid to ask them what they’re looking for!
Sourcing Potential Virtual Event Sponsors
One of the biggest challenges many nonprofits face is where to start with sponsors. Who do you reach out to? Here are some of the best kinds of organizations and businesses to connect with:
- Local businesses: If there’s a business just down the street from you, they’re a great place to start when you look for event sponsors. When they sponsor your event, the local community sees their name and their commitment to philanthropy. Approach them from this community perspective.
- Board member employers: Many of your board members likely work for businesses that have a budget for sponsorships. Work with your board members to approach their employer about sponsorship. They’ll know the best person to ask as well as what may appeal to their employer in a sponsorship.
- Past sponsors: Don’t forget about your past sponsors! These folks should be getting continuous communication from you to keep up your relationship. When your new event is ready, let them know about the upcoming sponsorship opportunities.
- Organizations interested in your audience: this is where you’re likely to find new sponsors. Think about the type of audience you have. Are you running an event focused on mental health? Who else would be interested in that audience. You could approach therapy clinics, mental health advocacy organizations, or even pharmaceutical companies. If you need more ideas, look at events similar to your own and see who sponsored them.
The other element to consider when you’re putting together benefits to entice sponsors is the price point. If you’re thinking of your sponsorship as a marketing opportunity, you want to find the sweet spot of cost: if it’s not worth it to sponsors, they won’t purchase, but if you price too low you won’t make money.
Keep in mind that virtual events don’t come with many of the expenses that are involved in in-person events.
Historically, you may have needed sponsorships to cover food costs, the ever-flowing coffee, or a venue. It may also have cost you to include each sponsor: table rentals, limited space, added electricity. These costs don’t apply virtually.
In addition, many sponsors don’t see as much value in having their logo shared digitally: being face to face with potential clients is more of a premium. You may need to adjust your price points to reflect these facts. However you can still have a strong ROI thanks to the lower expenses.
Think about adjusting your sponsor budget to account for lower costs. A slightly lower price point can bring in more sponsors and end up giving you higher revenue.
Examples Of Sposor Benefits
Now it’s time to get to the good stuff: what types of benefits can you offer to your sponsors? We have so many ideas we’re going to split them up based on when they occur: pre-event, during the event, and post-event.
Pre-Event Sponsor Benefits
As you lead up to your event, you’ll want to include sponsor names and logos in as many places as you can. But you can also get creative about sharing sponsor information. Here are some ideas.
- Place all sponsor logos on your fundraising site
- Create a team page for each sponsor so that their logo appears prominently
- Ask sponsors to write a guest blog sharing info that’s pertinent to your audience: it helps you market and shares their name
- ALWAYS tag and link to your sponsors when mentioning them on social media or in emails
- As you create your registration, think about the information potential sponsors might want. Consider adding things like location, interests, or specific demographics so that you can share detailed information about your attendees when you pitch sponsors.
- Ask your sponsors to co-host marketing elements leading up to the event. If you’re hosting a social media contest, you could make a sponsor part of it as a co-host.
SOS Children’s Villages of Illinois had each of their sponsors create team pages. This gave each sponsor a prominent space on the front page.
Summit Assistance Dogs used the sidebar on their CauseVox page to highlight their sponsors:
During Event Benefits
Here’s where you’ll probably find the most interesting and creative options for sponsor benefits. One of the best strategies to take when brainstorming sponsor benefits is to focus on what’s unique about your event and include sponsors there. But there are also some great options that will work for any event.
- Include a number of free tickets to your event in each sponsor package. You can even give them access to a special part of the virtual event: think a happy hour or guest appearance from a celebrity.
- Create opportunities for one on one time with attendees. Perhaps sponsors can offer select time slots for attendees to chat with them, or have Zoom calls available for attendees. This is a great option for an educational event like a conference.
- If you’re running a livestream, shout out your sponsors during the event, or give them a short video ad. You can also include shout outs in the chat with links to sponsor websites.
- Brand elements of the event: you can have sponsors read speaker introductions, brand breakouts or chats, or have different areas of the website sponsored by an organization.
- Provide a virtual event bag for attendees that includes PDFs or flyers from sponsors. You can also include a digital program book and offer advertising placements.
- Ask sponsors to get involved with engagement. If you’re using engagement tactics like icebreakers, scavenger hunts, or quizzes, consider having sponsors host them or be an answer. Some sponsors may also be a good fit for providing raffle prizes, or hosting a fun session like happy hour.
Post-Event Benefits and Follow Up
Your sponsors don’t stop paying attention once an event is over. Just as with individual donors, the follow up and relationship building are incredibly important. Here are some great ways to show sponsor love after your event is over.
- Include all of your sponsors and links to their websites in your thank you/follow up email.
- Consider giving sponsors access to your attendee list so they can follow up themselves.
- Share data about who attended, how many clicks sponsor links received, and the social media buzz about the event. Sponsors want to see how their content performed.
- Send a personalized thank you to each sponsor and follow up to hear what they want to do next.
Take Your Virtual Event To the Next Level with CauseVox
CauseVox helps you raise more with less effort and gives your sponsors an amazing experience.
Use CauseVox to easily spin up crowdfunding campaigns, donation pages, and peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns, plus integrate event ticketing and management directly into your fundraising.
Learn more about how you can use CauseVox for your online events.