Ask for sponsorship

There may come a time when you need to ask someone for a donation or in-kind gift.

Let’s say you’d like someone to sponsor an art opening for your organization. [ Side note: It’s easier to get sponsorship for larger, nonprofit organizations than for individual artists because (1) it’s a tax deduction for the donor and (2) more people show up at the events. ]

Erin Casey
Erin Casey, Grace After a Windstorm.
Porcelain.
©The Artist

Your first step is to get clear about what–EXACTLY–you want and need. You won’t get far with a vague request such as “We’ll take whatever you can give.” That’s not helpful to anyone. You must be specific that you need X amount, whether it’s cash or in-kind. An in-kind donation is a gift of goods or services (e.g. printing, advertising, food, beverages, live music) in place of cash. You might not get X, but you need to know and articulate that number.

Pinpoint any deadlines that you will have. When you request sponsorship, you must state your expectations clearly: “I need to have this in place by July 30 in order to get your name on the invitation.”

As you’re preparing your proposal, outline the benefits that the sponsor will receive in return for the donation. This is where you need to spend time. Sometimes people will give out of the goodness of their hearts, but it’s easier for donors to say Yes to something when it benefits them. This is why you want to ask for sponsorship from people and businesses that want to be in front of your audience.

Benefits might include any or all of the following:

  • Listing or logo on the invitation
  • Listing or ad in a program, brochure, and/or newsletter
  • Mention in press release
  • Name or logo on event web page or blog posting
  • Name or logo on wall or table signage
  • Name or logo in a catalog, which you can have printed just for your sponsors
  • Display table for sponsor to promote products or services
  • % Discount on purchase of art
  • Acknowledgment in any spoken program at the event
  • Free tickets to the event (number of complimentary tickets increases with giving level)
  • VIP tour for a specific number of people
  • Studio visit with cocktails

The benefits you offer your sponsors will depend on the level of the gift. Draw up a few different packages and decide which are appropriate for your target sponsors. If you are offered an amount less than your request, be prepared to reconfigure the package of benefits to be in line with the lower amount.

Incidentally, I suggest putting the request in writing. Send an email for the initial contact. Follow up with a real letter if you don’t hear back within a week in case your original email request was lost or filtered out of the inbox.

In addition to rewarding sponsors, you could also benefit from rewarding your buyers and collectors. Learn more about this in the upcoming Cultivate Collectors online class beginning July 8.

KNOW THIS———-~> You won’t get what you don’t ask for.

THINK ABOUT THIS—~> The worst thing that could happen is that someone might say No to your request.

DO THIS————~> Ask for sponsorship for your nonprofit artist organization. Free money is never free. You should bend over backwards to thank your sponsors in every conceivable way–including a handwritten Thank You note following the event. You never know when you’ll want them (or their friends) to sponsor another event in the future.

Tell us about your experiences with sponsors and listen to the podcast on the Art Biz Blog.

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