Part II :: Find Sponsors

Maybe you want to get sponsorships and have tried before without success. Maybe you want to get companies to support your tournament, but don’t have experience landing deals. Getting a business to sponsor your next tournament is much easier than you think. You don’t have to be lucky or anyone special, it’s putting in effort and using techniques that actually work.


It is important to plan ahead for your fund raising efforts for your tournament. Large companies due to volume of sponsorship requests require 4 to 5 months notice to provide you with an answer. I would not recommend any notice less than 6 months especially if your target company is a large, national or international brand.


Your value proposition is a paragraph or two (preferably less than 140 characters or as they call it: tweetable) that clearly describes tour tournament that you are trying to get sponsors for. Most people struggle to write a concise value proposition. Alex Osterwalder and his crew just recently published a book called Value Proposition Design which explains how you need to identify the jobs, pains and gains of your audience and try to address them in your value proposition to be most effective. Following is an example of one of my recent value propositions that I designed. As you notice, it clearly explains the reason for the tournament, the audience and the benefits that a potential sponsoring company can gain in exchange for their sponsorship money.

My tournament brings best high school girl basketball players and athletes in the province together for the entire family day weekend. In return of your sponsorship fund we will have your banner hanging from the wall across our bleachers and more importantly your logo will be displayed on our tournament page hosted on Tournament page is where all the athletes, their coaches and the fans visit everyday to get updates about the tournament, find out about game schedules, scores and standings before, during and after the tournament. Traditional advertising like print, billboard and even TV or radio are difficult to measure where as promotion via web and social media can be measured in terms of your return of investment.

The “your logo will be displayed on our tournament page” is super effective with large sports apparel companies based on my experience.

It is highly recommended that you pitch your value proposition to friends and family and get their feedback, polish it and then send it.


  It is important to keep track of your fund raising campaign. A simple spreadsheet is in most cases more than sufficient to record the prospects and the dates you contacted your target company, who you contacted, how (phone, email) and follow-up dates.


  It is important to make your emails count. Here are a few things to remember before you write your first sponsorship request emails.

  1. Personalize to your target company. Avoid mass email and spamming.
  2. Insert your value proposition right after a warm greeting statement at the beginning of your email.
  3. Make them feel special. Like say “We have some limited sponsorship opportunity.” or “Your brand and what it stands for fits perfectly with the message that our tournament is trying to get across to our young athletes.”
  4. Give them options if possible. For example you could state that $1000 will get your banner hanging across all the fields (In a soccer tournament for example) or $2000 will additionally get your logo on our tournament page and our social media campaigns.
  5. Close it with a call to action. A call to action could be a follow-up date, a request for appointment or a phone call.


  Follow up emails are very important in closing deals. Sending follow up emails are tricky. Firstly, we generally feel like we are spamming our recipient if we send an initial email and we don’t receive a reply. In order to get over that feeling of guilt, you have to assume that you recipient was busy and after giving a reasonable time to respond is your duty to help your targeted company not to miss a once-in-a-lifetime marketing opportunity for their brand.

That first follow-up should sound a lot like a simple reminder and the acknowledgment of the busy schedule of your recipient.   If you don’t hear back after your first follow-up email, feel free to add additional value that you offer to that particular company. You could mention how your tournament athletes are likely to consume the product of the company.   Remember to update your spreadsheet after each follow-up. There are online tools that could help you set reminders for your next follow up. or Boomerang are to name a couple.


Don’t let a few NOs discourage you. Don’t get offended when someone says no and realize that people aren’t saying no because you’re a bad person, they’re saying no because:  

  • Your sponsorship might not be a good fit
  • They may not have the budget
  • They could have a competing event
  • Maybe they had a bad experience with another similar tournament
  • They could just be idiots and don’t get the value you are offering

Even after a NO response you’ll have a chance to get even more creative and finally land a sponsorship deal. Stranger things have happened!


  After landing your sponsorship deal, you need to make sure that you keep your sponsors informed about your tournament and how well things are progressing. Provide your sponsor with actual measurable gains that your tournament has produced for their brand. The attention and the metrics related to the eyeballs that have noticed their products and the potential leads that generated for their company. Your current sponsors if treated well are most likely to be there to back you again for your tournaments in the future.

A well-run sponsorship campaign becomes an easier sell for your future tournaments.

Stay tuned for the upcoming episodes of Running a tournament like a pro.