Since in-kind sponsorships involve goods or services, the possibilities are basically endless. To focus your search, a good first step is to look for businesses whose goals or values align with yours. They’ll have a strong incentive to sponsor your event, since your attendees will overlap with their target audience.
A great example of this is United by Blue, a Philly-based outdoor brand dedicated to keeping oceans and waterways clean. United by Blue hosts river cleanups all over the United States and partners with local food and beverage companies. That way, when volunteers are done cleaning up for the day, they’re rewarded with treats like artisanal ice cream or a local IPA.
The process of reaching out to companies for in-kind sponsorships looks a lot like reaching out for cash sponsorships, which we wrote about in detail here. But there are a few specific tips to keep in mind:
Takeaway: Whether you’re writing an email or filling out a form, take some time to think about what you want to say so you can show potential sponsors how your event will be valuable to them.
Once you’ve gotten a response, it’s time to deepen your relationship with your sponsor. Compared with cash sponsorships, in-kind sponsorships are easy and affordable, so you may have already gotten a yes to your request. If not, their response probably means that they want to know more. This is the time to dive deeper into the benefits your sponsor will get out of this--how your audience is a good fit for the products or services they’re donating, and any indirect benefits they’ll receive, like free tickets to your event (a great way to say thank you).
This conversation is also a great time to have your wish list ready, so know what services or products you’d most like to get, plus a headcount for your event so you know how much to ask for. Which brings us to…
When it comes to in-kind sponsorships, knowing what to ask for can be tricky. Here are some things to consider:
As we mentioned, the possibilities for in-kind sponsorships are pretty much endless. To give you some inspiration, here are a few good places to start:
After your event, you’ll want to follow up with your sponsors, and not just because sending a thank you note is the polite thing to do. Express your gratitude in a way that also demonstrates the success of the sponsorship, and your sponsors will be eager to continue the partnership for future events. Help them measure the reach of their sponsorship by sharing any attendee data you can find, and give them a way to measure how much sales increased because of their sponsorship.