Raking in the Moolah: How to Raise Sponsorship for College Fests

If you’ve ever visited any college fest, you must be aware of how awesome it is (our deepest condolences to you if you ended up at a crap fest!). The DJ-nights, the swinging, and grooving, the treats at food stalls, the loudspeakers blaring your favourite tunes all day… yes it’s legen-dary! But have you ever tried considering what goes into making an event as awesome as you find it? How do organizers (teens at the same level of college as you) even manage to set-up an entire gala for 100’s of colleges, for a whole 3 days? The answer, perhaps, lies in those funky tees of the assistants and volunteers constantly shoving you away and nagging you to do as they say.

t-shirt_with_sponsors

Yes, sponsors! After all, the money won’t walk to you itself, right? Nor is anyone so rich enough to bear it all on his own expense (unless it’s some Birla or Ambani & co.). Again, no company would just give away their money because someone asked for it, would they? Fellas, now you realize, raising money is not so easy after all? Once you’ve joined a committee to organize fests (click here to know why exactly you should!), you will realize just how difficult, and at the same time, important it is (10x more than you did the last sentence). Here’s the tonic to your panic though – a quick guide on how to rake in the moolah for your college fest!

1) Attain Nirvana

nirvana

No, we’re not asking you to go to the hills and meditate all your life. There can be other ways to achieve self-realization too – like brainstorming, having a round-table conference and establishing a blueprint of your fest. A dark shade of blue, that too. You must know exactly what you’re going to do – which and how many events, how many prop-requirements, near-accurate estimates of expense of each committee in each area, budgets for extra-splurges like celebrities, etc. It’s simple logic – why would any sponsor be willing to part with his money when he doesn’t even know what use it is being put to? A firm blueprint can go a long way in convincing the sponsor that “yes, they know what they’re doing and they also know what they need to do, which means my money is in safe hands”. As Ankita Katdare, owner and writer at CrazyEngineers, puts it, “A lot of students fumble when asked to list simple stats about their events. For instance, “What is the maximum strength of students attending on every day of the event?”, “How many other sponsors have you contacted?”, “What was last year’s turn out?”, “What are the major spots where you will put our banners?”, “How is your event relevant to our company?” etc.” You don’t want to be caught up in such an embarrassing situation, do you?

2) Know you Sponsor

stalker

Which is doing what you love to do anyway – stalking people on the internet. Only, stalk your sponsors with as much gutso as you do your crush on Facebook! Read up about your potential sponsors, understand what exact business they transact in and how. Only after knowing this can you decide whether the sponsor is even relevant to your fest or not! e.g, if it is a cultural fest, you would naturally think a banking company or a mutual fund company have no relevance with your event. It is only after delving deep into research can you find out if any such institution has a campaign for attracting culturally back-ward sections for their services – in which case there’s mutual benefit for both you and them if the sponsorship deal goes through.  It also helps you in developing a customized approach to the sponsor, letting him know that you have done your research. After all, who doesn’t like the feeling of someone trying hard to get to know you? It gives you a chance to offer them things no other event could. A customized approach can ameliorate your chances of getting a nod from your sponsor manifold. More than anything, only research can tell you whether the company/individual is interested/in a habit of sponsoring or not.

3) Might is not always right

small beats big

We know what you think – BIG BUCKS! Yes, the prospect is enticing – getting big money from big people and organizing a big event with big crowds… yes we know you like it big. Unfortunately, this is where most newbies go wrong. If you think you will approach all the biggest names like Samsung, Starbucks, Amazon etc., and will get millions of dollars as sponsorships – we’re sorry to break your bubble but this is not happening! You can approach them all you want, but understand that they receive millions of such applications from people like you and thus all you’re going to do is add another mail to their spam folder to be deleted every day! Instead, small is big here. Contact your mid-size local businessmen. Here’s why it is preferable –

  • The local businessmen themselves are looking for ways to grow, which means they will be readier to agree to your deal.
  • They are easier to contact and negotiate so you can get a great deal out of them, as opposed to biggies who will get their own way due to their might.
  • It is possible to forge a more personal connection with them, which means that you gain a potential sponsor for future events as well.

Yes, we know a local businessman is not going to be able to give you the whole Rs. 20L as the biggie might have. But 10 such locals giving you Rs. 2L/- each.. what’s the difference? If anything, you just gained 9 more logos to publicise! That in itself helps attendees think “Wow it is a big event that is attracting so many sponsors!”. In short – a complete win-win ecosystem!

4) Know how to interact

language

Sponsors are not that best friend of yours that you can walk up to nonchalantly, slap on the back and demand money with utter impunity. You have to be thoroughly professional in your approach to impress them. Imagine receiving a mail like “hey sir, im head of ___ fest, i need monye fr it. can u sponsor it? i hope u do. Pls reply asap. Thnxxx sir.” as a sponsor! Your first impression decides in the mind of the sponsor if you’re worth his/her money. Hence, there are certain things you should keep in mind when contacting them –

  • The best way to convince them is to meet them personally and talk it all out. Visit their website, call the relevant number as obtained from there and try fixing up a meeting if the concerned person is reachable. Leave no scope for confusion and explain your proposition properly. Do not stammer or be unsure, nor should you fake accents.
  • If it is not possible to meet, or if the sponsor insists on e-mail communication, draft a grammatically correct mail (hail the grammar nazis!) and in as crisp a way as possible, explain what your event is about and why you think it is a good idea for them to give you the money. It should be short and intriguing and should immediately be followed up by your contact details so that further negotiation can be commenced without them having to waste their time. If they don’t respond within 4-5 days, call them and confirm if they have seen it and what is the progress of the proposition.
  • Never forget to follow up regularly. Keep them aware of where their money is going at what time for what purpose so that they know they haven’t made a mistake in sponsoring you. With various cases of scams being reported, companies are alert and proactive, so you do not want to risk running aground with their trust.

Also, check out Hitesh Gossain’s inputs on How To Write a Sponsorship Letter and other tips!

5) What’s in it for the sponsor?

 

what do i get

Sure, your need is money. That’s all you care about, we know. But business, like romance, is a 2-way street! You cannot expect to be given everything you need without giving something back yourself. Which is why you need to convince the sponsor why it would be beneficial for him/her to do it. In the world of business, this means marketing. You need to give ample footage to the sponsor so that it creates a situation for him/her where the money spent in sponsoring you is given back to him indirectly by way of increased sales for his products. This means, if it possible, the sponsor should be allowed to set up banners at prominent places, stalls where he can display and sell his products, logos to be printed on tickets, t-shirts, etc., social media promotion as well as giving their products as prizes for winning certain events. E.g, a Rs. 2000/- Myntra voucher can be given as the prize for winning a fashion show event if they are the sponsors. Also, now do you understand why the IPL always has a “CEAT tyres strategic time-out” and a “DLF maximum!”? It’s give and take folks!

6) Be realistic: Quote the right amounts
begging

Once again, we insist – don’t go too big! We know it’s a temptation to ask for big money from big giants because what’s Rs. 1 crore to someone like Pepsico who deals in turnovers of 1000 crores? But be wise, and listen to the words of Mahatma Gandhi. “There is a sufficiency in the world for man’s need but not for man’s greed.” Only ask as much amount as is required for the event (which you would know only when your blueprint is ready #1). Research thoroughly, be aware of the going rates in the market and quote accordingly. Also, don’t shove a huge fraction of the total event cost on 1 sponsor e.g if your total fest budget is Rs. 50L, do not expect a single sponsor to cough up Rs. 30L for you. Be realistic, and keep the quotation below Rs. 3L. An important note though – do not end up falling too low either! If you ask for measly sums of say Rs. 10,000, do not expect them to respond to you either way. It works on the same principle as you buying phones – if it’s too expensive, it’s out of the budget. And if it’s too cheap, then it’s probably a feature-less phone of poor quality. Keep these in mind when you give the figures to sponsors!

7) Outside Help

i need help

If you’re a newbie in this business, there are bound to be nerves. Worse, there are bound to be mistakes at some point. Do not let that jeopardize your event though. There are always others to help, right! Various sites, such as TheCollegeFever, as also SponsorMyEvent help you to connect with interested sponsors and guide you in sealing the deal in your favour. It can be a great learning experience for first timers and can help you in creating a network via these sites for future events as well! Don’t forget to check these out!

Bet you didn’t know sponsorship could be done so easily, did you? Have no fear, these tips are always here! Go on, get your money, and don’t forget to give us free invitations for your events!