You’ve decided to host a walkathon or peer-to-peer fundraising event to create awareness and raise fundraising dollars for your charitable cause. To offset the costs that are required to produce your event and boost your fundraising dollars, you may be considering how to get sponsors to support a walkathon. Corporate or community sponsors fulfill a critical role in any successful walkathon or special event fundraiser. These corporations and local businesses help increase awareness for an event by promoting it to their employees and customers via social media, which is helpful when it is time to attract the attention of local media and recruit walkers and volunteers. But, most importantly, sponsors create a financial backbone by helping to offset event costs.
Below are some useful guidelines on how to get sponsors to support a walkathon.
Utilize Your Network of Supporters
A great way to build your sponsorship list is to consider who you know. Who on your leadership team is connected to a small business owner? Who in your team of volunteers or friends works for a larger company or corporation that may designate funds for local community projects? Can they help connect you to the person who deals with corporate sponsorships?
The most important thing to remember about networks is that they are constantly growing and changing. Most organizations do a great job of assessing their networks when first constructing recruitment and prospecting plans. However, as your registration grows, and you recruit volunteers and participants, your network will also be growing. Schedule a second and third assessment of your network, and actively seek out connections that will aid the success of your event.
Remember: Companies Benefit From Sponsorship!
Understanding and articulating the ways in which prospective sponsors benefit from working with your organization is very important. This becomes the foundation for selling sponsorship opportunities. Everyone likes to help out a great cause; however, companies are looking for a win-win relationship when investing in your walkathon. Be sure to explain exactly how sponsoring your walkathon will provide value to the local businesses you are prospecting.
Benefits a Walkathon or Fundraising Event Provides to Sponsors
Some common benefits that walkathon sponsors receive include the following:
- Inclusion in promotional materials
- Exposure at the fundraiser
- How many people are expected to attend the event? Make sure to let them know that their involvement will expose them to thousands of potential customers.
- Will sponsors have a tent or table onsite where they can educate people about what their business does or generate leads? Businesses are always looking for ways to reach new potential customers.
- Perhaps if they are a company that sells products that correlate with a walkathon event (i.e. food and beverage companies), your event could be a great venue for sampling.
- Do you intend to have a VIP area or a hospitality tent with free food and beverage for sponsors?
In addition to pairing the mission of your potential sponsors and the activity or mission of your event, remember that other general benefits exist for lending sponsorship. These benefits may include:
- Increased exposure in the community
- Tax deductions – check with your organization’s tax adviser for details
- Opportunities for team building and employee development
Be Organized in your Approach to Sponsors
There are several steps to a successful sponsorship program, which should be managed by members of your walkathon planning committee. Follow these guidelines to determine and reach fundraising goals.
- What are your fundraising event goals and how does sponsorship feed into those goals?
- Develop a corporate sponsor packet with a concise cover letter and message.
- Create sponsorship levels that allow businesses to contribute at various levels, ie $500 to $10,000.
- Determine what your agency will provide in exchange for sponsorship. For example, use of logos on signs, tee shirts, websites, or in publicity materials.
- Brainstorm a list of prospective sponsors. Delegate each prospect and create a concrete timeline for approaching each prospect.
- Make sure to obtain the logos for each sponsor as you go.You’ll be thankful that you have them ready when it’s time to post on your website or print walk-a-thon materials.
- Don’t forget to thank your sponsors! Mention the contributions of each sponsor at the event, and send thank you letters. This may bring them back again for annual events.
Be Creative and Provide Opportunities for Fun
When considering how to get sponsors to support a walkathon, think outside the box and find compelling tie-ins for local businesses. For example, insurance companies may be able to create special slogans pertaining to health and safety. Or invite a local furniture store to set up a “rest stop” for your walkers where they can feature some of their best-selling lounge chairs.
The possibilities are endless. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box.
For step-by-step guidelines to help you create and sell sponsorship packages, watch our free webinar: “How to Get Sponsors to Support Your Fundraiser“.
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Visit our Walk-a-thon Resources for additional information and download our free guide: “How to Organize a Walkathon Guide – Your complete guide to hosting a walkathon” There are also a number of guidelines and templates to assist you in your walkathon planning efforts including walk-a-thon flyers, pledge forms and tips to help you create a sample press release for a walkathon.