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Festivals Toolkit: Sponsorship

Obtaining and maintaining a relationship with a sponsor can be extremely rewarding but it is another area of activity that requires time and effort and someone dedicated to the job.

It can help you to broaden your financial base and enhance your image, but it is not a quick fix to financial problems. As with all sources, companies will have to be carefully researched and sponsorship packages developed. It can take up to 12 months before a deal is reached.

Introduction to Sponsorship
Arts & Business is a national organisation which runs programmes and services to bring together the arts and business communities locally through regional offices.  They are the specialists at brokering relationships between businesses and arts organisations.  They have produced the Arts and Business Introduction to Sponsorship which can be downloaded from the Related Documents section of this page.

The following section is an extract from Visit Wales Timeline for Events toolkit.

Commercial sponsorship is a major factor in the financial success of many festivals and events. Gaining sponsorship, at local or national level, is very competitive. You will need to demonstrate tangible benefits for the sponsor. Sponsorship can either be a cash-donation or an in-kind contribution (of goods or services).

Identifying and attracting potential sponsors requires effort, perseverance and considerable flair.

Some organisations may be able to provide 'in-kind' sponsorship. This can be as useful as cash in reducing costs or obtaining goods and services which you would otherwise be unable to afford but which could cost your sponsor relatively little, e.g. a pull-out section publicising your event in your local newspaper or assistance on legal maters from a local solicitor. Set realistic targets for potential cash sponsors. Over-ambition can frighten off smaller potential sponsors. On the other hand do have a clear idea of the cost of the package to you and the value of it to your sponsor. Sometimes arts organisations under price their sponsorship packages – if your target says yes without hesitation then perhaps you could have asked for more.

Once you have identified the funding shortfall, decide whether the effort needed to find sponsorship will be proportionate to the benefit of getting the money.

Clarify the benefits to the sponsor. These will range from a name check in your publicity to more strategic business opportunities. Think about including some of the following in your initial contact:

  • Association with a successful brand i.e. you
  • Association with a specific event within the bigger programme linked to their line of work/interests
  • Contact with an existing or a new market
  • Entertainment opportunities for their existing/new clients/business targets
  • Advertising at the event
  • Company’s logo/name on all printed material
  • Company’s logo/name on merchandising (eg. T-shirts)
  • Company’s logo/name shown on festival banners and point of sale displays
  • A website link from your site to that of the sponsor
  • Reference and brief details included in all PR
  • Offer of free VIP tickets and opportunity to purchase more at a discounted rate
  • Product placement e.g. samples given to audience/participants and/or a stall at the event to display their products/services
  • Exhibition space
  • Sponsor's name added to festival/event title (an example of where you need to have a very good idea of the value of this to your sponsor)

Your organisation committee/network can help identify contacts who could introduce you to potential sponsors. It is always easier to 'get into' an organisation with a personal introduction. Arrange to go to meet potential sponsors and discuss their requirements with them fully. It is likely that they will have their own ideas on how their association with your festival can be developed to mutual advantage.

Once a sponsor has committed to the event, involve them in all PR opportunities and keep them up-to-date with news.

Further information on sponsorship and corporate giving
The sponsor may have one or more of the following objectives in mind when they think about supporting an event such as a festival:

  • Sociological Objectives - corporate social responsibility (usually expressed as a charitable donation rather than as a sponsorship deal)
  • Broad Business Objectives -  image, branding, to be associated with something of quality
  • Specific Business Objectives -  connecting with a specific market/target, opportunity to put something back into their own company

Prior to approaching companies think about the following:

  • Research (draw up a target list of appropriate companies)
  • Track record: yours and theirs
  • Your income needs
  • Features and benefits – what can you offer?
  • The message: make yours relevant, upbeat and value for money

Remember that sponsorship is a highly competitive field, plus sponsors sometimes leave making their decisions until the very last minute and at all stages they may be less predictable than raising support from public sector sources. This is a consequence of the fact that it is foremost a business transaction. So your approach and offer need to be professional, to the point and offer value for money. Sponsorship is usually handled by marketing and relates to the company’s business objectives.

In contrast, charitable giving is usually handled by Corporate Affairs. The approach is less about the benefits to the company and more about the project and benefits to the public/artists/ community. You may be able to apply using a standard application form, but there may possibly be specific criteria which you have to be able to meet.

Arts and Business
A&B can help you to develop contacts with potential sponsors. The also run seminars and training in sponsorship development.

Business Community Connections
Aims to help charities obtain more support from business. This ranges from cash donations and sponsorship to employee volunteering and gifts-in-kind.  BCConnections provides a free on-line resource centre for information and advice to assist in the practical development of business community partnerships, organises local brokering events to facilitate face-to-face contact between potential community and business partners, and offers training courses to improve knowledge and skills within charities to develop effective business community partnerships.

BCConnections, Gainsborough House, 2 Sheen Road, Richmond, Surrey TW9 1AE
Tel: 020 8973 2390   Fax: 020 8973 2396

The UK Sponsorship Database, an online database of UK sponsorship opportunities.

Related documents

The following document is in Portable Document Format (PDF). You can download software to view PDF documents for free from the Adobe website (opens in a new window)

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