How to Get Corporate Sponsors for your Nonprofit Fundraisers & Events

Tina Jepson
Tina Jepson

As nonprofit fundraisers, we’re always thinking about our donors first. We’re focused on recruiting them, retaining, engaging, and so on. And it’s all worth the effort because our donors are part of the lifeblood of our organizations—they’re the people who financially fuel our missions and help us produce real results.

But donors aren’t the only people who make your fundraising events and campaigns successful, and they aren’t the only people whose needs you should be considering. In fact, before you begin recruiting personal fundraisers, asking for donations, or asking supporters to share your campaign with others on social media and through email, it’s great to have a head start.

One of the most effective ways to propel your fundraising event and campaign to the next level, both in terms of financial and promotional support, is through sponsorships. We’ve seen a number of highly successful crowdfunding and peer to peer fundraising campaigns powered by CauseVox that relied on the backing of sponsors— and the results were nothing short of remarkable.

Sponsors help your fundraising efforts, so it’s important to think about them as you’re planning your next fundraising campaign. This guide will help you understand the why, the how, and the who of sponsorships, plus give you steps that will help you ace your sponsorship requests.

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Sponsorships 101:

What Is A Sponsorship?

Sponsorships are financial, in-kind or product contributions made by a for-profit business or corporation to a nonprofit organization. In some circumstances, the charitable organization provides the sponsoring company recognition in the form of marketing and promotions.

What Types Of Resources Do Sponsors Provide A Nonprofit?

One of the wonderful things about sponsorships is that they’re incredibly flexible. The sponsor can provide any number of resources to you, and you can choose to recognize them in any way it makes sense at your event. Usually you’ll want to make this agreement in advance of the event or campaign together with your sponsor.

Depending on the needs of your organization, you may choose to ask for one or more of the following from your sponsor partner:

  • A financial contribution
  • Pro-bono services (such as accounting services, media/marketing, printing, etc.)
  • Gift match agreement
  • Volunteer support
  • Fundraising campaign promotion to their audience
  • Staff involvement in peer to peer fundraising

Keep in mind that this is, by no means, an exhaustive list. There are virtually an unlimited number of ways for a business to support a nonprofit.

What’s In It For The Company?

Sponsorships aren’t just a one-way street, businesses also reap benefits. In our ethics and value-focused corporate culture, companies are now proving that they care about causes through corporate social responsibility initiatives. This helps improve a company’s image, thus attracting employees and vendors interested in working with a socially responsible company.

Part of your job as the nonprofit is to make the sponsorship look enticing to sponsors by offering them promotions and marketing, access to the attendees of your event, or other benefits. That could include:

  • Free registrations to the event
  • A resource table at an event
  • Adding their logo/name to marketing materials
  • A chance to speak at the event
  • Signs or logos on your website or at the event space
  • Give attendees a discount or coupon to use with the sponsor
  • Links back to their website from your event page

Are There Any Tax Implications?

In order for the sponsorship to remain tax-exempt, it’s important that a nonprofit not provide promotions/services over the value of the sponsorship.

Also, a nonprofit isn’t allowed to promote/advertise a certain product sold by the sponsoring company. For example, if a beverage company donated cases of soda to your nonprofit, you could add their logo to your website and hand out that product at an upcoming fundraising event.

However, you are not legally allowed to tell people at the event to “buy the product” or link to that particular product in any event marketing.

What Do Businesses Look For When Choosing an Organization to Sponsor?

The relationship between your organization and the sponsoring business is a professional relationship. While a sponsorship appears to be a donation on the outside (and it is in every legal sense), it’s also a business transaction. With that in mind, there are some elements you’ll want to highlight about your campaign when you approach a potential sponsor.

An Audience: Businesses like to see that you have a donor/volunteer/client base that will learn about the sponsorship. Maintaining a website, staying current on social media, and sending out a regular newsletter or direct mailings shows your organization is running effectively and that you have an active audience—things a business is definitely interested in knowing before sponsoring.

Impact: Facts and stats also matter, especially if they clearly show the impact of your nonprofit’s work. Of course, you know all about the importance of reporting your nonprofit’s results and following a strategic plan, so we won’t dive into the nitty-gritty of that here. Just realize that a sponsor is definitely going to want to know all about the positive impact your organization has on your community, so annual reports, client stories, and metrics like a donor’s return on investment handy.

A Plan: Possibly the most important thing your nonprofit can bring to the table is a detailed plan. Knowing what you plan to do with the sponsorship money/product/etc is essential. You’re not going to secure that contribution (and, in turn, build a relationship with that business) if you don’t operate like a business does. Show your sponsor where their dollars are going and how it will make a difference.

The 411 On Recruiting Sponsors

Recruiting sponsors requires a strategy. Here’s how to recruit sponsors for your fundraising events and campaigns.

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1. Set a Goal

Start the sponsorship recruitment process by examining your nonprofit’s needs. Answer these questions:

  • Why do we need a sponsorship?
  • What is our ultimate goal?
  • What do we hope to gain from it?
  • What can we provide the sponsoring business?
  • What is our timeline?

Then, create a concrete plan using these answers, incorporating SMART goal setting practices.

  • Specific: A certain dollar amount, product, etc.
  • Measureable: The sponsorship must be trackable
  • Attainable: Make sure what you’re asking for is reasonable for both your nonprofit and the sponsor
  • Relevant: The sponsorship should help you meet your nonprofit’s mission
  • Time-Based: Create a timeline for the sponsorship process

Your goal may look something like this: Our nonprofit must secure assistance from 2 corporate sponsors and/or $2,000 before April 15th for our May online crowdfunding campaign. These sponsorships will help offset marketing and fundraising costs. Sponsor logos will be added to all promotional materials.

2. List Prospective Sponsors

Since getting sponsorships is just one aspect of fundraising, consider the relationship-building aspect of recruiting sponsors. At the end of the day, you don’t just need the money/products, you want a long-term relationship with that sponsoring business.

The Can Do Woofaroo listed their sponsors on their CauseVox page.

There are a few different approaches you can take in identifying  potential sponsors. Here are some of our favorite options:

  • Local businesses: being in the same area as a business is a great starting point to pitch a sponsorship. When they sponsor your event, the local community sees their name and their commitment to philanthropy. Approach them from this community perspective.
  • Board member employers: Many of your board members likely work for businesses that have a budget for sponsorships. Work with your board members to approach their employer about sponsorship. They’ll know the best person to ask as well as what may appeal to their employer in a sponsorship. You can also reach out to volunteers who have ties with a business.
  • Past sponsors: if an organization has sponsored in the past, you know that they’re interested in what you’re doing. They should receive communication throughout the year, just like a donor, and get an update when there are new opportunities for them.
  • Organizations interested in your audience: this is where you’re likely to find new sponsors. One of the largest benefits you can offer a sponsor is the eyes and ears of your audience. Think about who wants to reach these people. For example if you’re running an event on mental health, you might approach therapy clinics, mental health advocacy organizations, or even pharmaceutical companies. If you need more ideas, look at events similar to your own and see who sponsored them.

Make a list that includes the business’ contact information and any mutual relationships your organization has with that business, such as an acting board member who works/owns a company. Leveraging relationships may seem like an “old school” way of gaining sponsors, but it works!

3. Create a Sponsorship Package

Next, develop a sponsorship package. This document includes all the information a business needs to learn about the opportunity. Most sponsorship packages include all or some of the following information:

  • The names of all sponsorship levels/opportunities
  • Benefits of each level
  • Cost per level
  • Dates for event/activities/campaigns, if applicable
  • Contact information

With a quick Google search, thousands of sponsorship package examples popped up.

The 2021 Young Professionals Golf Classic by Fred’s Footsteps listed out their sponsor options on their CauseVox page, and updated as opportunities sold out.

Walk the State by Parkinson’s Nebraska laid out their sponsor levels as part of their CauseVox page.

Though both of these examples are different, they contain enough information for a sponsoring company to make an informed decision about participating. One important thing to note is that the benefits each event offered were tailored to the type of event. The golf tournament offered foursomes as part of their benefits, while Walk the State gave audio commercials during the event, taking advantage of having many participants in one place.

4. Reach Out

You now have everything you need to start reaching out to your business contacts. Now it’s time to reach out to your contacts.

Phone Call and/or In-Person Meeting

In cases when you know the business owner/decision maker, it’s best to schedule an in-person meeting or make a phone call to discuss the opportunity. This is also a good tactic if some of your supporters also work at this business.

Go into the meeting or phone call with a clear plan. Most conversations will go like this:

  • Meet and greet, introductions
  • Casual small talk on topics such as the business climate or what’s going on in the community
  • Discuss your nonprofit’s current impact. How are you making a difference in local lives? What are your organization’s plans for the upcoming year? When possible, talk about stellar employees/associates of the company who are helping in your nonprofit’s efforts (volunteers, board members).
  • Transition into the sponsorship request. Give the decision maker information about the opportunity, including cost, benefits, etc. At this point, hand and/or email a copy of the sponsorship packet to the decision maker if they haven’t already gotten one. Explain the impact of the sponsorship.
  • Leave time for questions
  • Don’t expect an answer immediately. Decisions such as who/where to allocate funds are often left to employee committees or other governing bodies.
  • Suggest a follow-up date to confirm the decision (a week to a month is completely reasonable)


If you’re unfamiliar with the business or are working with limited resources, a letter is sometimes the first point of contact between your organization and the potential sponsor. While it may not seem as ideal as a personal conversation, a letter is a great way to introduce your cause and start building a relationship.

A sponsorship introduction letter should include the following elements and look something like the example below.

  • Contact information (letterhead information)
  • Personal greeting
  • Information about your nonprofit and your impact
  • Your present needs (“sponsors”)
  • How that business fits into the equation
  • Request for in-person meeting/phone call

April 21, 2017

XYZ Nonprofit

Tina Jepson


Dear Mr. Peterson,

Your company continues to make a positive impact in our community through new hirings and your philanthropic generosity. It’s businesses like yours that help make everyone’s lives in our community stronger and safer.

Here at XYZ nonprofit, we have the same goals. We want to see members of our city happy, healthy, and safe and that’s why we developed the L.O.V.E. Initiative. Through the aid of our generous sponsors and donors, we were able to prove wrap-around services for 100 families at-risk for homelessness right here in our county last year. The families we work with are just like yours and mine, and they are getting the help they need to not only survive, but thrive in school, their jobs, and at home. When one of us succeeds, we all do.

We are currently looking for sponsors to help fund our fundraising efforts for the upcoming fiscal year. If your company decides to participate, we’ll name you as a sponsoring partner is all the communications going out throughout the year. For reference, I also included a sponsorship packet below.

I would love the opportunity to discuss our future partnership with you. Let’s schedule a phone call sometime next week.

Thank you for your consideration!


Tina Jepson, CEO XYZ Nonprofit

5. Next Steps

Follow up with your contact 1-2 weeks after the first contact with a phone call or email.

If they do decide to become a sponsor, send an official thank you letter to show appreciation and to outline their benefits.

Whether or not they decide to sponsor, continue to build a relationship with that business. While something like a financial sponsorship may not be on their radar at this time, that doesn’t mean you can’t partner with them for corporate volunteer opportunities or another initiative down the road.

Building relationships of any kind takes time and effort, and the same goes for recruiting sponsors. And, at the end of the day, remember that it’s as much about developing a lasting relationship with local businesses as it is gaining a sponsoring partner.

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How CauseVox Supports Your Sponsorships

Throughout this process, it’s essential that you have technology that supports your work. If you’re offering multiple sponsorship levels, you don’t want to be invoicing each individual sponsor or finding ways to charge their credit cards on your end. Instead, you can use CauseVox’s ticketing tiers to build in multiple sponsor levels that businesses can purchase right on your page.

The Open the Doors gala used ticketing tiers to sell gala tickets as well as a full table option, a common sponsor choice.

One way you can use ticketing tiers to entice your sponsors is by also offering them free attendance for some of their employees or community members. CauseVox makes it easy with promo codes: create one for each sponsor that they can use to register folks for free!

In addition to ticketing, CauseVox’s flexible and customizable campaign pages allow you to highlight your sponsors in a wide variety of ways. Check out some of the options:

The Gauntlet listed their sponsors in the sidebar section of their CauseVox page.

Dorcas Ministries’ Day of Thanksgiving created a blog post update with all of their sponsors listed out.

Another option is to share your sponsors logos in the about section of your page. This works best when you create a single graphic out of multiple logos.

Power-up Your Sponsorships with CauseVox Ticketing & Events

If you’re ready to implement these ideas, let CauseVox help you make it easy and painless. 

Don’t let yourself stay stuck on a ticketing platform that’s clunky and out of date. Make the move to CauseVox for the best ticketing platform that will help you to entice sponsors and highlight them throughout your event.

Book a demo to get started with CauseVox’s event ticketing today!

This post has been updated in January 2022 for relevance and accuracy.

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