How to Get Sponsors for Your School Carnival
“Let’s plan a school carnival,” they said. “It’ll be fun!” they said. And it probably was fun until you started building a realistic budget for your school’s event. Between entertainment, games, marketing, and generic set-up materials, costs can skyrocket quickly. As the figures add up, finding local businesses to sponsor your event can help mitigate these costs.
Local businesses could sponsor everything from a rented petting zoo to rented tables and chairs. It’s best to create a tiered list of donation levels so there are options for anyone interested in helping, no matter their budget. For example, basic activities (such as face painting) might be available for a less costly sponsorship than a main attraction (such as an inflatable bounce house). You can also scale these sponsorships based on how much exposure the business will receive in return. The lowest level may get signage at the event and a social media shout out, while the highest level may also get a spot on flyers and website promotion.
Before you set out to find and contact sponsors, also consider pulling together a small team so that you can “divide and conquer” your potential leads. With several parents involved, you’ll not only make short work of reaching out to sponsors, but you will also find that some of you may have direct connections to some of the businesses, making it even easier to reach out. Parents with experience in sales or who have worked with nonprofits are great candidates for this team because they may feel more comfortable contacting businesses.
Where to Find Event Sponsors
At this point, you may be scratching your head … where do you find businesses willing to pay for your carnival? Luckily, there are several places to look.
- Start with businesses owned by parents or people directly affiliated with the school. These individuals already have a vested interest in seeing your school’s carnival succeed, since their children will benefit from it.
- Next, widen your search to the local businesses that many families from your school frequent. Companies that receive lots of business from your school’s families will jump at the chance to strengthen relationships with target customers.
- Finally, whenever you are seeking community partners, consider pitching specific sponsorships to businesses that have something in common with the activity involved. For example, would a local pet store sponsor a petting zoo? Would the local movie theater sponsor the popcorn stand? If needed, you can expand your search beyond your local area with these connections in mind.
How to Entice Companies to Sign Up
With a list of potential sponsors in hand, it’s time to start thinking about how to approach and thank them for their generous donations.
Before reaching out to sponsors, determine how you will acknowledge their contributions. Some great ideas for recognizing carnival sponsors include: branded signage alongside the activity they sponsor, an announcement at the event, social media recognition, and shoutouts in newsletters, web announcements, and flyers sent home in kids’ folders. Your school may have guidelines surrounding these options, so be sure to collaborate with school administrators to find those that work best for your event.
Next, research the businesses you want to contact — do their websites list any guidelines for sponsorships? Are there online forms already available for sponsorship requests? Follow the posted guidelines, whenever they are available.
If there are no official guidelines from the business, you’ll need to create a sponsorship request letter. Here’s a great guide for building your letter. Your letter needs to communicate how your event will utilize sponsor money and benefit the school, as well as how the business can benefit, too. Event shout-outs in various forums amount to advertising for sponsors, which is an important benefit to highlight. It’s fine to use an overall template for each sponsor letter, but you’ll find greater success if you tailor some portions to each business you contact. A school parent might donate for different reasons from a local business, for example.
After sending out your letters, don’t forget to follow up with the businesses you’ve reached out to a few more times. Making a phone call or sending an email to the business owner will garner more attention and consideration for your letter.
The final step in getting sponsors for your event is to take action! Create your tiered sponsorship levels and a plan for recognizing sponsors — then send out your letters and follow up. You might be surprised by how much your local community wants to support your school.