Sponsorships for Auction
– Where the Money Is
There's no question that guests attending your events come for the fun. Whether it's formal galas, golf tournaments, or dance competitions, some invitees won't attend if there isn't an auction. People like to “win” and there is no better way to provide your guests that special feeling than with an auction. The fun, like a great theme, is what gets people in the door, but sponsorships are where the the bulk of the money is made.
Auction Items vs Sponsorships
While we each think that our auction event is the most important thing around, businesses receive tens of dozens of donation requests a year, and go on to donate dozens of items. Finding auction items can be a breeze with these links and advice. Ordinary donations make up the bulk of the auction action, Sponsors can help increase revenue multiple times over- here is how.
Sponsorships give you the opportunity to make your partner feel extra special. You want your donors to remember your organization so their participation for the next year is nearly automatic. What incentives do you have for sponsors? Event tickets, special recognition, and thank you gifts are a great starting point for making your sponsors want to continue to work with your organization.
When it comes to sponsorships, you should have goals on both micro and macro scales.
- The macro goal of the total sponsorship donations collected is to, at a minimum, cover the cost of your event. If your event costs your $20,000, there's your macro total sponsorship goal.
- The micro goal is to have the individual item sponsor cover the cost of what they are sponsoring. If your valet service costs your $2,000, that's the minimum that you should set as your valet sponsorship goal.
Build long-term relationships with the sponsors. You will want to set an expectation that a certain percentage of your sponsors will repeat annually. 100% is great but probably not necessarily realistic. After the event thank everyone properly. The stronger the relationship, the more likely you'll be able to convince your sponsor to move up a level the following year.
Where to Start
Always start with who you know. If you are a school, reach out to the parents of the students. If they are not in a position to sponsor, perhaps their employer is or they're friends with local business owners. Next, see who might have a aligned interests with your organization. For example, the ambulette company's business grows with the local hospital's success so they should be towards the top of the hospital's list of probable sponsors.
Getting the word out beyond your own network can be challenging. MBOpp.com is a solution. MBOpp was created because there isn't enough time to reach every single potential sponsor; and do you even know who the potential sponsors are? MBOpp gives you the chance to have interested sponsors come to you. Each sponsorship level should receive its own listing on MBOpp so they can match up with sponsors’ budgetary criteria.
Target your message to the businesses you're approaching: Always always always ask the vendors your organization uses to become sponsors. If they appreciate your business, donating to your event is the least they can do. Questions to think about:
- Having a valet at your event? Car dealerships love to sponsor them. If there's room, allow them to display a couple of their flagship vehicles.
- Are you a school? Ask the local children's toys and clothing stores to sponsor a “priceless” opportunity like a 30 second “all you can grab shopping spree”.
- Red carpet sponsorship? Local newspapers and magazines are the perfect fit. They really want their readers to know that they are an active part of the community.
While we all know that even a few hundred dollars can make a huge impact on a charitable organization, to many large organizations, it isn't even a rounding error. Whether it's $300 or $30,000 always ask for your top level sponsorship from these organizations. The worst they can say is “no” but they'll most likely just pick a lower level sponsorship.
Sponsorship Quick Tips:
Nothing ventured, nothing gained- If you ask for a donation and are told “no”, you've lost nothing but the time it took to ask. You'll be told “yes” more than you'd expect. Even if it's a little “yes”, a bunch of little “yeses” turn into a significant impact on your organization.
- Be nimble and flexible. While all of your sponsorships at a certain dollar level might be taken, create a new one on the spot that would best fit a potential new partner.
- “No” doesn't mean “never”; it means, “not right now.” You never know if you are reaching out during a slow month or the person you asked is having a bad day.
- Use a third party to help connect. MBOpp gives you the opportunity to list your sponsorship opportunities and it gives potential sponsors the chance to find you when they have the time and are in the right mindset.
Special thanks to Seth Schneider for sponsorship advice. Seth is the founder of MBOpp and has served on the boards of numerous non-profits where major events were the main source of contributions. His experiences as both an event sponsor and event sponsor solicitor was the driving force behind the company and website.
List your next auction on MBOpp.com. to help find sponsors and let sponsors find you.