By Julianne de Souza
Similar to members and volunteers, sponsors are essential in sustaining the livelihood of the club industry. Regardless of your club’s size and budget, obtaining sponsors is an effective method not only for raising funds, but also for building positive, long-term relationships within your community.
A common misconception is that sponsors are merely supporters, when in reality, the relationship between a sponsor and a club should be mutually beneficial rather than a one-way street. After all, when gaining sponsors, your club is cultivating a relationship in which both parties will be giving and receiving.
Successfully securing sponsors requires much more than simply sending a few emails – the process involves a lot of time and hard work. However, by breaking it down into a few steps, obtaining sponsors will hopefully appear less overwhelming and maybe even seem fun.
How to get the sponsorship ball rolling
The first step is to consider the market value of what your club has to offer potential sponsors. These days, you want to offer more than some simple logo placements. A few examples of the benefits that your club can offer potential sponsors include brand awareness, product sales, a change in consumer attitudes, speaking opportunities, and brand activations.
Next, it’s time to research potential sponsors. You can start small with members, friends and family, to see if there are any small business owners who would be interested in partnering with your club. Depending on your club’s size and budget, the next step can involve researching local businesses or larger organisations and corporations. You want to identify potential sponsors with audiences whose interests and values align with those of your club. This means not only knowing everything about your club’s demographic and interests, but also knowing the same information about your potential sponsor’s audience.
Once you’ve gathered a list of potential sponsors, it’s time to prepare your sponsorship proposal. This should be succinct, well-presented, and contain all the relevant information about what is being offered. Creative or customised sponsorship packages can be more time-consuming, but they can also convey just how passionate you are about partnering with specific sponsors.
To gain more insight into identifying potential sponsors and making your proposal stand out, we caught up with a corporate sponsor and a club, neither of which is a stranger to the sponsorship process.
Case study: Gallagher
A sponsor of Clubs WA, Gallagher is an international insurance brokerage, risk management and consulting firm. They currently provide sponsorships to over 100 businesses and organisations from a wide range of industries, from tourism and yoga to real estate. So what exactly does a business such as Gallagher look for when providing sponsorships to clubs or not-for-profits?
“As a community broker, we are all about helping protect people and what matters most to them – their home, their possessions, their business, their communities and their future,” says Gallagher’s Marketing & Client Service Manager Jacqui Moxham. “This is why Gallagher proudly partners with clubs and not-for-profits that support the communities we live and work in.”
In addition to assessing whether an organisation’s values align with those of the corporation, Gallagher also considers whether the partnership would be mutually beneficial to both parties and member bases, allowing both to reach their business objectives and goals. This is why collecting data about your club’s demographic is essential. “Don’t underestimate the power of data, especially pertaining to your membership base,” says Jacqui. This means focusing on your club’s demographics, behaviours and attendance.
If you are looking for ways to make your sponsorship proposal stand out, there are a few important things to remember. “Understanding what motivates the companies you are approaching, as well as understanding the market value of your sponsorship offering, is key,” advises Jacqui. “Sponsorship is no longer just about logo placement; you need to offer more where a sponsor’s value can be experienced by the organisation and its members. And one size does not fit all! The potential to customise even a portion of a sponsorship package is an excellent incentive to get the conversation started.”
Lastly, who exactly should you be contacting? After all, when it comes to sponsorship, you only have one chance to make a good first impression, meaning the less back and forth, the better. Discerning the correct contact depends on the size of the company, but as a general rule, the Sponsorship, Marketing or Community Marketing Manager is a good place to start.
Case study: Swan Yacht Club
One of our state’s most well-known clubs, Swan Yacht Club’s major sponsors are Maddington Toyota and Paul Nicholl’s Boat Sales. The club hosts a yearly Corporate Sponsor Challenge where businesses compete to be the club’s corporate sponsor, meaning Digital Marketing Manager Ryan Khong is no stranger to the sponsorship process.
Created in 2016, Swan Yacht Club’s Corporate Sponsor Challenge provides surrounding local businesses with the opportunity to win a major sponsorship pack valued at $25,000. Being an entrant alone also enrols your business as a minor sponsor of Swan Yacht Club, with comes with a myriad of advertising benefits.
As the club’s main method for gaining sponsors, the process behind planning and executing the Corporate Sponsor Challenge is multifaceted. Firstly, the club decides what benefits they will include or alter each year, both for the major prize winners and the entrants. Next, the club builds branded graphics for the event’s application forms, posters, and promotions, which are then widely used through their membership base and past Corporate Challenge participants. Then the club picks a date for the announcement where all entrants are invited to attend.
When approaching potential sponsors through the Corporate Sponsor Challenge, how does the club make their proposal stand out? “We entice potential sponsors by highlighting the value for money and endless opportunities that come with jumping on board as a sponsor with Swan Yacht Club,” says Ryan. “It helps to have modern graphic design elements and past evidence of how our organisation has dealt with or helped sponsors before.”
With years of approaching and gaining sponsorships under his belt, Ryan has learnt many simple yet effective lessons along the way, such as: be professional and friendly, and don’t try to rush the process. “Don’t be too pushy or seem too desperate for their sponsorship. If their business values align with yours and the benefits are even for both parties, it’ll work out one way or another,” he adds. “Take a step back and look at what opportunities you could give other businesses as a sponsor and simply give it a shot! Asking is always better than never asking.”