In the past, getting sponsors for events wasn't too difficult. You could always count on a few local businesses to get involved. However, in today's world, where everything is moving online and most events have transitioned to virtual, finding sponsors for your online events is a bit more challenging.
In order to gain sponsors for your online events you need to get creative with how you market yourself and show off the benefits of sponsoring your event(s). Here are some helpful tips on how you can gain sponsors.
Check out your current sponsor list to see if any of them may be interested in sponsoring your online events.
Before you can walk into a room and ask for money from potential sponsors, you have to know who the heck you're asking in the first place. Asking for sponsorship from your company's current pool of sponsors is a good way to start.
Look at the types of events that they are already involved with. What kind of events does your current sponsor list already sponsor? Are there any gaps in their involvement? Maybe they have never sponsored an event that involves birds, and you know that there's an annual bird-watching conference coming up this fall. You could easily pitch the idea of sponsoring that conference as an easy way to get them involved and gain exposure at the same time!
If there aren't any gaps in sponsorship opportunities on your current list, try looking at other companies' lists—and then see if those companies might be interested in partnering up with yours.
Ask your current sponsors to get involved with promoting the event and share their own social followers.
You can also ask your current sponsors to get involved with promoting the event and share their own social followers. Ask them to send a message to their own email subscribers, employees, vendors or other partners in the community. This is a great way to reach new audiences who might not otherwise know about your event.
Reach out to potential sponsors that have hosted a similar event before.
One great way to get sponsors is to reach out to those who have hosted similar events. If your event overlaps in content and demographics with an existing event, try contacting the host and ask them if they would be willing to sponsor your event.
If they say that they're not interested, don't give up! Instead, use this opportunity as a way for you and your organization to learn more about what makes their events successful—and how you can use those strategies for your own event in the future.
If you don't already know someone who has hosted a similar online conference or webinar series before, I recommend reaching out directly through email or LinkedIn (make sure the person has opted-in). When writing an introductory message like this one below, start off with something positive: "I really admire everything [name] has done." You'll have better luck finding a connection than if you started off by saying something negative like "I'm trying to find someone who will give me money."
Try to find potential sponsors that are local or that have an existing partnership with your organization.
You should try to find a sponsor that is local, has an existing partnership with your organization, or has a similar mission.
This seems obvious, but it's true: Local companies are more likely to take on the costs of sponsoring an event than businesses operating outside of your area. For example, if you're hosting an event for kids in Hell's Kitchen and want to attract sponsorships from local businesses, it would make sense for you to try talking with nearby restaurants in the neighborhood—especially those with family-friendly atmospheres (and good pizza). This approach shows that you understand their audience and helps establish trust between all parties involved in planning the event.
The same goes for finding sponsors who already have existing partnerships with your organization; if they've already established some kind of relationship with you before reaching out about sponsorship opportunities then it makes sense for them to continue supporting what you do together! You might not need as much convincing since they've seen firsthand how well their money is being spent through working together before now.
Offer up sponsorship for multiple events.
If you’re trying to get a sponsor for your online event, and it’s not happening, here are some things you can do that might help:
- Offer up sponsorship for multiple events. Sponsorship opportunities tend to be one year or season long (think: “sponsor our website and get your logo on this banner and in this newsletter”), but if you want an event sponsor, try offering them multiple events of a similar type (i.e., two conferences). They may be more likely to agree if they know they will have ongoing support from you over time instead of just once and done.
- Offer up sponsorship for multiple events in the same city as yours. If none of your local businesses are willing to support your conference/meetup/etc., reach out beyond town—there might be another city nearby that would love to establish itself as the next big tech hub! This approach has worked well for us at CodePen with our annual CodePen Unite conference; we've found sponsors willing to fund travel expenses so we can bring people from across the country together into one place where they can meet face-to-face (and network!) instead of just communicating via Slack all year long (which wouldn't work nearly as well).
Send an email outreach campaign explaining your sponsorship opportunities to potential prospects.
Have you ever sent an email and then never heard back? It's a bummer, isn't it? But there are ways to make sure your emails get read. For starters, keep them short and sweet. No one likes long-winded emails that go on for paragraphs about what you do and why you're so great at it.
Include the following information in your outreach:
- The purpose of the event (e.g., "We're hosting a conference to help women entrepreneurs gain new clients.")
- Your location (e.g., "This will be held in San Francisco on April 20th.")
- The type of sponsorship opportunity offered (e.g., "$500 will buy name recognition through signage at the event, social media coverage leading up to the event and during breaks.)
Use LinkedIn to reach out to potential sponsors directly through company pages, groups, or connections.
LinkedIn is the perfect place to find and reach out to potential sponsors. With over 500 million members, it's a great way for you to network with other professionals in your field, as well as connect with potential sponsors.
The first step is finding a company that would be interested in sponsoring your event. This can be done using LinkedIn’s search tool or by searching on Google for companies that have sponsored similar events in the past. Once you have found some leads, take note of the following:
- The name of the person who handles sponsorship inquiries (often listed under "Sponsorship opportunities")
- Their email address or phone number (often listed under their name)
- Whether they prefer email or phone contact
Once you have this information, write a personalized message explaining how their company aligns with your event mission statement and why it would be mutually beneficial for them to sponsor it. For example: “At Creative Ways to Gain Sponsors For Online Events LLC we believe that [company] shares our mission of educating people about online events through quality educational content like [event]. We are honored if you would consider partnering with us!” If no response comes after several days, send an update informing them that if they need more time before responding then no problem—just let him know what he needs to do next time!
You can find sponsors for online events - it just takes some creativity!
So how do you find sponsors for online events?
It might seem like a difficult task, but it’s actually easier than you think. You just have to be creative! Here are some ideas on what steps to take:
- Look at your current sponsor list. Some of these companies may already be interested in sponsoring an online event or could see the potential in it. For example, if one of your main sponsors is an airline company and they already do business with a travel website, then maybe they’d be interested in sponsoring an event that brings together users from both sites.
- Ask your current sponsors about getting involved with such an event too—and reach out directly to other possible sponsors (like travel websites) who haven't yet sponsored anything similar before
Look, it’s not going to be easy, but you can find sponsors for your online event. Sure, it may take some time and effort to get them, but in the end all your hard work will pay off and give you a nice check at the end of the day. So don't be discouraged if no one is interested right away - keep trying until you make that first sale! Just remember that every rejection brings us closer to finding our true sponsor-fit (or so my therapist tells me). Be sure to check out our AMAZING sponsors at The Event Planner Expo 2022.