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Corporate Sponsorship
by Eileen Frye, Heart of Illinois Fair

First, present a confident and positive attitude when giving your proposal.

Do not be apologetic about the event or "sell it short!" You have a very marketable commodity that you are offering to the potential sponsor. You are not soliciting or begging for help-you are prepared to offer a company an opportunity to showcase their product to thousands of festival goers during a short period of time in a productive manner.

It is important to have a fact sheet or brochure to present to your prospective sponsor:
  • How many years has the event been in operation?
  • What is your attendance during the period?
  • What attractions do you offer at the event?
  • What will the sponsor receive for their dollar?
  • Do you offer gate admission tickets to the sponsor to be used in promotion?
  • Do you have an advertising program that will include the sponsor?
  • How about space for a display of the sponsor's product?
  • Do you have a variety of events to offer? Are they priced realistically?
  • Is the sponsorship package that you are presenting compatible to that company?
A company could be interested in a facet of the event that you had not considered. We have found that the best approach in securing sponsorships is to start at the local level and begin your campaign early. Advertising budgets are prepared before the start of the calendar year. In order to participate in their budget you need your facts and figures listed for presentation before that budget has been allocated. It is a selling market and does require effort on your part. When you have secured a sponsorship package, you should then prepare a contract to be signed by both parties. This can be a simple document but must clearly emphasize the basis of your agreement.

It is also important to state when payment is to be made by the sponsor. We usually ask for one-half of the contract price approximately three to four months in advance, with fi nal payment to be made two weeks before the start of the fair. It is also helpful to mail a statement to the company a week or so before the last payment is due. This serves as a reminder and eliminates misunderstandings.

It is very important to fulfi ll all that you have proposed to do. Never-but never-fail to provide every facet of your agreement. It may seem insignifi cant to you, but the sponsor has a right to expect everything that had been discussed in your initial approach. We make certain that the sponsor is happy with his or her commitment. It is important that sponsors feel that you have a strong sense of concern for the project and are anxious to see that they are satisfi ed and happy to be a part of the event.

When the event has ended-and it was a tremendous success, be certain that a letter of thank you is sent to each sponsor specifically commenting on their area of involvement. Ask for their comments and criticisms. We can all learn by listening!

I believe that you will fi nd after the first year of a sponsorship program it becomes much easier to make your program a success. Satisfi ed companies are your best source of public relations and information for other companies. Everyone wants to be involved in a successful venture and each sponsor-whether soft drink or other entity-wants to participate in the action where their peer groups are already established.

A sponsorship program benefits everyone: the event, the sponsor, and the community.


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