Event Success: Finding & Keeping the Right Sponsors

Finding sponsors for an event, no matter how small or large, can seem like a daunting task. Sponsorships are a step toward success though, as events with sponsors benefit from the extra exposure, support, and funding they wouldn’t have on their own. A long-lasting sponsorship with the right business can have a tremendous impact on your event and future events. So, how do you attract the attention of the right businesses to your event? Nurturing potential sponsors can take time, energy, and dedication – but it’s all worthwhile.

Keep in mind the tips below as you build the right network of support for your event!

Keep it Local

Most businesses have worked hard to build up their reputation in their local communities. Focus on offering sponsorship opportunities to businesses who would most benefit from supporting your event: those in the same town or city as the majority of participants. If you have local sponsors already, sharing those partnerships with another potential sponsor can help sway their decision in your favor.

Present Valuable Opportunities

Refrain from meeting potential sponsors and asking only for them to help you reach your goals; it just won’t work. In fact, many businesses strategically pick the events they sponsor in their communities based on the return on investment they can expect from the event’s participants. Plan ahead and present two to three metrics each sponsor can expect to see an increase in (email sign-ups, that weekend’s sales, etc.) based directly off their work with your event.

Offer Engagement-Boosting Ideas

Along with the metrics mentioned above, think about the ways in which each business could engage with your participants to encourage awareness, interest, or sales. By having suggestions ready, like a bakery offering a free donut to each race participant at the finish line, you remove the burden from the business and make their decision to work with you that much easier.

Targeted Market Exposure

This point seems straight forward, but it’s actually often overlooked. There are many ways to connect any brand to an event (think laundry detergent sponsoring a marathon), but we recommend being more selective if you’re able. If you’re putting on an endurance bike race, go talk to the local bike repair shop or health food co-op. Find companies with missions or products that will be highly relevant and beneficial to your participants and ask for their support.

Talk to the Decision Makers

Unless you’re a professional salesperson, pushing a sale (like a sponsorship opportunity) is not always the most pleasant of undertakings. You’ll save a lot of time on your sponsorship hunt if you focus on connecting only with decision makers at each company. At the very least, start with someone who can connect you with a decision maker directly and save your pitches and metrics for them. Local businesses are often easier to make quick headway with given their smaller teams and autonomy.  

Nurture Your Sponsorships

We can’t stress this one enough, especially if you want to rely on many of your sponsors for future events or outreach. While funds from a business may be your most compelling reason for the relationship, remember that it must be mutually beneficial. So, when the checks are cashed and the event is over, send thank you letters to all sponsors with follow up information detailing the success of your event.  Include information like attendance reports, press coverage, photos, finish times, and more. Check in throughout the year and express genuine interest in their growth and goals. The more you can help your sponsors, the more they will help you!


Remember, behind nearly every successful event stand the silent supporters. Treat your sponsors the same as you’d treat your best participants and they will surely return again for your next event!

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