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It’s time to start planning that big annual event for your nonprofit, and you have your sights set on a headline sponsor to help you raise more and make an even bigger impact than last year. What you need is a strong corporate sponsorship proposal that communicates who you are, what support you need, and why your would-be sponsors should jump aboard.
In this guide, we’ll explain when to use a corporate sponsorship proposal, how to write one effectively, and what to include in the different types of letters you’re likely to send. We’ll also share a template for each letter, so you can quickly customize them to impress your potential partners.
When to send a sponsorship proposal
When you need to reach a fundraising milestone or raise awareness for your cause with a new audience, corporate sponsorship—whether financial contributions or in-kind donations—can be the perfect stepping stone to get you there.
Corporate sponsors don’t just say yes to every opportunity though, so you need to convince them that your nonprofit is the right recipient for their support in a mutually beneficial partnership.
One of the best ways to signal that you’re a good match is with a sponsorship request letter. However, it’s not always easy to know which type of request to send, especially if you’re new to attracting corporate sponsors.
Here’s a quick guide on what to send and when:
- Sponsorship request letter: Send this to prospective sponsors for a singular event, or to small, local businesses that have more authority to agree to sponsorships. You can also include this as part of a larger sponsorship proposal.
- Sponsorship proposal: Detailed sponsorship proposals should be your go-to method of communication if you want to target a large corporate sponsor or negotiate a long-term or high-value partnership.
- Sponsorship thank you letter: Send a thank you letter or email to any sponsor or partner after you’ve agreed to terms and signed on the dotted line (and again once your event is over!)
We’ll cover all of these types of letters in more detail, along with matching sponsorship proposal templates for each.
Must-have writing tips for your next sponsorship proposal
Writing a sponsorship proposal is similar to crafting any other message nonprofits might send to get donations from companies.
Your letter should be persuasive and appeal to your recipient. It should also include the key details your recipient needs to make a decision. Beyond these basic elements, there are a few more expert tips that we recommend:
- Keep your writing clear and concise 📝 Make sure your letter or proposal is easy to read with short paragraphs, straightforward language, and plenty of white space.
- Research your would-be sponsor 🕵️ Review their website, social media accounts, and any press to find connections to your cause and whether the business feels like a good match.
- Communicate why you’re a perfect partner 💗 Use the knowledge you’ve gained from your research to explain exactly why your nonprofit deserves their financial support.
- Support your proposal with facts and case studies 🖼️ Evidence your need and past success with data from previous events, campaigns, and programs. Use data visualization to turn those figures into powerful charts and infographics.
- Build a relationship with your contact 😃 Find out your intended recipient’s name, personalize your letter, and make it easy for them to follow up with you and answer any questions.
- Customize each sponsorship proposal 🎨 Use a template to give you the right foundation, but be sure to tailor every single sponsorship request you send out.
- Check for errors before you hit send ✔️ Ask a team member to review your work, and give your proposal a final read-through before you send it on its way to your future sponsor.
How to write a corporate sponsorship letter
A request letter is one of the most effective ways nonprofits secure financial contributions or in-kind donations from businesses. Once you’ve created a list of potential sponsors, sending a personalized sponsorship letter helps you make the request in a formal yet simple way.
What your sponsorship request letter should include
Use your sponsorship letter to introduce your request, spark an interest, and provide the next steps for those interested. Your letter should mention the following details:
- Recipient's name: Always address your letter to an individual. If you're not sure who the decision maker is, the Head of Marketing or Head of Event Planning is always a safe bet. If it's a small business, address it to the owner.
- Personal introduction: Use the first 1-2 sentences of your letter to make things personal, referencing the individual or company's connection with your cause or event.
- The purpose of your event: Use the next 1-2 paragraphs to remind the individual of your event’s purpose—for example a summer camp, live auction, or sponsored livestream.
- Closing: Finally, ask the recipient to take part in your event or program. Include sponsorship options or a more general request to talk about how you can partner. Invite them to contact you with any questions they may have.
Your proposal letter doesn’t have to be long—especially if it’s part of a larger event sponsorship proposal. Keep your letter short and sweet in a proposal, but make a standalone request letter more detailed.
⭐ Pro tip: Looking for multiple types of event partners? Use separate sponsorship proposal templates to target different kinds of corporate giving—like financial contributions, in-kind donations, and promotional or social media partnerships.
How to write a sponsorship proposal
A request letter is a simple way to invite corporate sponsors to come on board, and it’s ideal for smaller events or local businesses. If you’re targeting large corporations as sponsors, however, you’re likely to need a more robust sponsorship proposal.
Sponsorship proposals are detailed requests that contain a number of sections and pages. These information-heavy documents give your future partners every necessary detail to convince them to sign up. Sponsorship proposals let you communicate your goals, what’s involved, why an organization should become a sponsor, and how to do it.
You don’t need to write a full sponsorship proposal for every fundraising event. Instead, save them for when you need a major sponsor to help you cover costs and raise awareness. It’s always handy to have a proposal template ready though, in case you need to quickly invite sponsors to come aboard.
What your sponsorship proposal should include
A sponsorship proposal is a large document that’s best broken down into clear sections that guide you and the reader through the process.
Here’s how to structure your sponsorship proposal document and what to say:
- Cover page 📕 Introduce your proposal with a compelling cover page. Customize a Canva template, or hire a designer to create a bespoke proposal cover page. Include the event name, subtitle, date, and event organizer.
- Table of contents 📋 Add a table of contents so the reader can easily navigate throughout the document. To make things even easier, don’t forget the page numbers.
- Sponsorship letter ✍️ While it's not absolutely necessary, it's always nice to insert a personalized letter to the prospect. Use our sponsorship letter template, then fill in your details.
- Objective and team 👯 Explain what you’re doing and why you’re seeking sponsorship. Next, include a brief overview of your team—their names, titles, and roles within the project are all you need.
- Analytics 📊 Use data to sell your event and convert prospects into sponsors. Include data on past events’ attendance, target audience and demographics, and exposure if you have it.
- Sponsorship levels 💎 Present your various sponsorship packages and tiers in an attractive way, using columns to make it clear which perks each package offers. Add the tier name, price, and scope of every sponsorship opportunity.
- Sponsors in action 📹 Use this space to showcase existing supporters and past sponsors. Share photos if you can, and testimonials and case studies are always beneficial, too.
- Terms and conditions 💼 Cover the legalities by sharing your event sponsorship terms and conditions. This should include the scope, terms of contract, limitation of liability, and obligations on both sides. Clearly stating terms now means you avoid the back-and-forth later on.
- Call to action 📣 End your proposal by thanking the recipient for their time and consideration. Add your contact information (phone number and email address) and invite them to reply with any questions or feedback. Lastly, sign your name and date it.
How to write a sponsorship thank you letter
Many organizations forget this step, but sending a personalized thank you letter is a powerful way to express your gratitude and start the relationship in a positive way.
Once you’ve sent your request letter or sponsorship proposal, talked to the sponsor in more detail, and an agreement is in place, take a few moments to share your gratitude before jumping back into planning mode.
What your sponsorship proposal thank you letter should include
When writing to express your gratitude to your sponsor, be sure to provide the following:
- Recipient’s name: Include your contact’s name. By now this should no longer be a mystery, and you can reliably address them by their preferred name.
- Message of thanks: Express your gratitude and say thank you for agreeing to sponsor your event or program. Include details to personalize your letter—for example, express thanks for becoming a gold tier partner, or for sponsoring the main stage.
- Note about impact: Follow up by sharing the impact their sponsorship will have on your program. Tell them that you’re now able to secure the future of the event, move to a larger venue, or increase the marketing budget.
- Closing: End with a note about how you’re looking forward to working together, and include your contact details for if they have any questions.
Match the formality of your thank you letter to the sponsorship agreement and your relationship with the recipient. If you’re a long-term partner, you can be more relaxed and excitable with your letter (or email). For a new partnership, keep the tone fairly formal but don’t forget to sprinkle in some of your passion.
Make an impact with your next sponsorship proposal or letter
You’re the expert on your organization and know the difference you can make with the right support. Use these sponsorship proposal templates to turn your passion into powerful and persuasive requests that attract the sponsors you need.
With Givebutter, it’s easier than ever to craft custom letters and emails to any individual or segment of your contact list, keeping track of their status in the same place as the rest of your fundraising data. Givebutter’s powerful nonprofit CRM, event management features, and tools for matching gifts bring together everything you need to raise more—from individuals and corporate sponsors alike.
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