I recently received an email about this very question. How do we get more sponsorships for an event we put on? I sweat about this every year, myself. It's not that easy to me, but your mileage may vary! Now, I don't claim to be an expert in this area, but it's a question we all, as race directors, ponder about time and time again.

Before making any calls, I think the first step is to develop a sponsorship program!

A document of sorts that describes your mission and values as an organization. Are you a non-profit or for-profit organization? I think non-profits have a little easier time with this, but regardless, the document describes the type of sponsors you're looking for, do their values match yours, what's in it for them, are your customers the ones for them, how will you know? You will genuinely need to understand these things, so maybe look at your past participant data and generate statistics and demographic data that you can include in your sponsorship program so potential sponsors understand if your event is right for them. Also, make sure to offer a tiered sponsorship program with incentives in each. You might want to include a variable number of free race entries by level (cheap incentive).

Once you have all this information compiled into a document, getting it into the right hands is a whole other beast. You'll want to get this information out to as many folks as possible, but getting it to the right people more important. Several ways might include the following (some obvious, some less obvious).

  • Website

  • Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) - Maybe create a LinkTree for your event and place all relevant links there.

  • Boost sponsorship requests via paid Ads

  • Email campaigns to past participants and volunteers (even better, past sponsors)

  • Word of mouth (Dare I mention flyers on windshields? 😬)

  • Connect with your local chamber of commerce (become a member of it)

  • Contact local massage therapists. They seem to like these sorts of events

  • Reach out to local car dealerships. If you're a big race, maybe they'll provide a lead car.

  • Running stores for packet pickup and more

  • Ask hotels for discounted group rates for your race (Lost and found after the race, forgotten awards for pickup, free room for the event directors, etc)

  • Connect with running groups to help spread the word

  • Get word out through your Ambassador program.

  • Scour the web for those wanting to sponsor events

  • Sports drink and gel sponsors (Gatorade, Tailwind, Skratch, Gu, etc)

  • Host a fun run/group run/training run (Give informational packets to those participating)

At the end of the day, there is no magic sauce or silver bullet! We still need to do the legwork and reach out and find the right contact. I wish you much luck with your event!

~ Happy Trails, BG

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