Sponsorship is the financing of an organisation, project or event by a corporation in return for benefits such as marketing opportunities, skills interchange or improved community reputation.
If you are looking for corporate sponsorship then contact the External Funding Service and we can help you through the process. We may also be able to suggest potential sponsors.
How is it different to Grant funding?
Most importantly, Sponsorship is not a donation. It is crucial to remember that you’re not asking for money but offering a partnership with mutual benefit – essentially, you’re selling a service in return for funding. A corporation will generally not be interested in contributing unless they can anticipate some return on their investment.
Another key difference is that it is unusual for companies to advertise their interest in sponsorship, and will not have publicly designated outcome targets. It is up to you to track down a likely candidate and convince them of the benefit to their organisation. Then, once a sponsor is secured, you will need to maintain their interest as they can withdraw support for any reason if the benefits are not obviously coming to fruition.
The benefits to your organisation
- Can often lead to prolonged partnerships
- Less controlled - since you’re selling a product instead of merely asking for money, the contribution is largely unrestricted and can be spent on any aspect of the project. Just remember that if the sponsor isn’t impressed with the outcome they will be unwilling to work with you in the future.
- The sponsor company has an interest in raising the profile of your event or organisation to get the most out of their marketing investment, so you may find you end up getting free advertising out of them.
The benefits you can offer to sponsors
This will vary depending on the kind of organisation you are. Some examples include: Marketing, employee volunteering opportunities, seminars/training events relevant to your organisation (presentation skills/community involvement etc), hospitality opportunities, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), employee discounts, contacts, offsetting bad publicity, brand association, community integration.
Looking for potential sponsors
How you do this depends greatly on the type of project and various current circumstances. Think about what you can offer and who might like to be associated with you, but also think about your own needs as an organisation. Be creative! Here are some suggestions:
- Are there any relevant companies that have recently been receiving bad press near you (eg a TV company digging up roads or a railway company closing all the bridges in your town…)? If there are, they may be willing to sponsor a high-profile, community-led organisation to help recover their reputation within the area.
- If a company is about to open a new branch in your area, they’ll be interested in establishing themselves in the community. Projects which allow interaction with local people will be particularly appealing here.
- Remember that there is no such thing as a company, just a collection of people working under a common banner. Find out what appeals to these people – is one of the board passionate about the theatre? Does the Chief Executive volunteer with a charity? This information can be hard to come by, but is absolute gold if you have it.
Applying for sponsorship
There is no official procedure for applying for corporate sponsorship, but again the key is to be creative. Arts & Business have put together a concise 5-step plan, which is available on their website here (under factsheets). Regardless of whether or not you’re an arts-based organisation, it’s a good starting point.
Sponsorship and taxation
Sponsorship contributions and the services you provide in return will both be affected by tax. Given the complex and impermanent nature of tax law we suggest the best way to make sure you don’t fall foul is to speak to a professional while you’re planning your approach. Citizen’s Advice Bureau should be able to help you understand your situation.