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10 Tips For Enhancing Event Sponsorship Forms

14 min read
March 27, 2024
Tim Sarrantonio headshot
Tim Sarrantonio
Director of Corporate Brand
A woman adjusts her glasses as she fills out an event sponsorship form on her laptop.

Working with businesses for your event can be an exciting opportunity to fund important parts of the experience for your guests. But it can also be intimidating because of the paperwork that sometimes accompanies the sponsorship. 

One major pain point that continually crops up—no matter if your sponsor is a small business or a large corporation—is the payment process for the sponsorship itself.

Unless you really enjoy emailing back and forth with marketing departments, getting alignment on sponsorship deliverables, or chasing down paper checks, event sponsorships can really take the “fun” out of fundraising. 

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. Using well-designed event sponsorship forms, you can automate many of these mundane tasks while setting your corporate partnership up for long-term success.  

In this blog, we’ll walk you through 10 best practices that you can use to build fully optimized event sponsorship forms that create a great user experience for your sponsors, save your staff tons of time and bandwidth, and contribute to a winning events strategy.

Getting to Know Business Sponsors

Before we get to our 10 expert tips,, let’s do a deeper dive into the audience archetype that we’ll be working with to design this generosity experience: Business Sponsors.

This is a profile for nonprofit "Business Sponors." It contains insights on their motivation (enhancing their business's reputation), priorities (protecting their brand's positive perception), and Giving Stage (moving from stewardship activity to a solidly retained donor.)
This is a profile for nonprofit "Business Sponors." It contains insights on their motivation (enhancing their business’s reputation), priorities (protecting their brand’s positive perception), and Giving Stage (moving from stewardship activity to a solidly retained donor.)

The “Business Sponsor” archetype prioritizes their reputation and views event sponsorship as a community investment. Their main goals include safeguarding their brand and being recognized as engaged community supporters. At this giving stage, they’re open to becoming long-term partners, moving beyond mere transactional relationships. 

Your focus should be on cultivating a partnership with your sponsor that aligns with their values of community involvement and brand protection, highlighting mutual benefits and shared goals to foster their evolution from sponsors to committed partners in the mission.

We can use this archetype to guide the ways we design the generosity experience for this audience. Understanding motivations, priorities, and where the organization may be in their journey with you will help contextualize these 10 best practices.

10 Nonprofit Event Sponsorship Forms Best Practices

Event sponsorship forms might seem like small potatoes, but they can go a long way towards streamlining all the frustrating paperwork necessary to maintain partnerships like these—a generosity experience upgrade that both your sponsor and your own staffers will adore. 

By incorporating these 10 best practices into your event sponsorship forms, you’ll set everyone—-your staff, your partner, your volunteers, and your attendees—up for success.

1. Outline Primary Contacts

Offer clear contact information for any questions that pertain to the sponsorship process itself. 

If there are different staff members or volunteers in charge of various deliverables relating to the sponsorship itself, then consider establishing a shared email address that notifies the sponsorship coordinators. 

But even if you create a general email, it’s still a good idea to establish a clear primary contact for any financial questions that need to be addressed. 

For example, working with a first-time sponsor might mean additional paperwork that needs to be completed in order for the funds to be dispersed. The easier you can get that query to the right person and get it resolved, the better. For everyone involved.

2. Securely Collect the Right Information 

There will always be a delicate balance between asking for too much information and not collecting enough. You don’t want to bog your partner down early in the sponsorship, but you also don’t want to leave out so much information that you end up having to waste time calling or emailing for it later. 

If you have historically found it difficult to capture certain information after the sponsorship process has begun, then asking for this kind of relationship-building info on your event sponsorship form is a great way to split the difference. 

By establishing that filling out this form is a required part of the sponsorship process, then it can ensure everyone is aligned with the right information from the beginning of the relationship. 

3. Get Creative With Sponsorship Packages 

When establishing packages around your event’s sponsorships, find ways to tie together your nonprofit’s mission with your event’s specific components. A fun way to approach sponsorships themselves is to offer naming rights to certain parts of your event.

Depending on the experience itself, this can come in a few different forms:

  • Wellness Areas: Sponsors can demonstrate their commitment to mental health and well-being by underwriting spaces dedicated to relaxation, mindfulness sessions, or stress-relief activities, providing a sanctuary for attendees to recharge.
  • Innovative Workshops: By sponsoring interactive workshops or sessions that focus on creativity, technology, or industry advancements, sponsors can align their brand with forward-thinking and professional development, encouraging a culture of continuous learning.
  • Community Meals: Sponsors have the opportunity to bring people together by supporting the communal dining experience, whether through catered meals, food trucks, or sustainable eating options, emphasizing the importance of nourishment and fellowship.
  • Sustainable Practices Zone: Emphasizing eco-conscious living and operations, sponsors can fund initiatives like recycling stations, zero-waste policies, or green technology showcases, underscoring their dedication to environmental stewardship.
  • Art and Culture Exhibits: By sponsoring areas that display local art, cultural exhibitions, or interactive installations, sponsors can enrich the event’s cultural tapestry, offering attendees a deeper connection to the community and diverse perspectives.
  • Empowerment Workshops: Sponsors can underwrite sessions focused on personal growth, leadership, and empowerment, such as career development talks, mental health discussions, or diversity and inclusion panels, showcasing their investment in attendees’ holistic success.

This can be done in a way that doesn’t feel like you are selling off portions of your event either, but instead celebrates the unique role that the sponsor has played in ensuring the experience is as delightful for attendees as possible. 

If you have a digital or physical brochure that answers these and even provides visuals that pair with the packages themselves, it can assist in aligning your event’s sponsorship levels with their organization’s brand values. You can consider making this a downloadable part of your landing page.

4. Clearly (and Cleverly) Identify Your Sponsorship Tiers

Your different sponsorship packages should translate to a clearly identified option on the payment form itself that’s connected to your sponsorship campaign’s landing page. 

If you put in the work upfront to market both your event and your sponsorship packages, you can let your clearly named and easily identifiable sponsorship levels do the work during the payment process. 

When you’re coming up with the names for your sponsorship tiers, have fun! That care and enthusiasm will carry over to your sponsors.

An example of a corporate sponsorship form created in Neon CRM, with a background image of a lake in a forest, sponsor levels from $1,0000 to $25,000 and names from Seedling to Sapling, Canopy, Forest Guardian, and Legacy Arbor.
An example of a corporate sponsorship form created in Neon CRM, with a background image of a lake in a forest, sponsor levels from $1,0000 to $25,000 and names from Seedling to Sapling, Canopy, Forest Guardian, and Legacy Arbor.

Aligning the names of your sponsorship levels with either your nonprofit’s brand or the theme of the event itself are two popular options. 

The more fun you have with naming your tiers, the more creative you can get in designing the event’s visuals and deliverables as well.

5. Emphasize Your Event’s Impact

Help businesses see the full potential of their future gift by establishing how your event’s impact will stretch far beyond this one particular evening. 

Making sponsors feel like they’re part of a cause bigger than the event itself will be a powerful way to stand out from the usual solicitation packages that focus too much on transactional benefits. 

Before writing out the packages and their corresponding names, outline a concise message and visuals that would welcome any prospective event sponsor. 

Grab their attention with copy that firmly showcases how the partner can make a difference by investing in your organization’s mission. 

Having a campaign landing page that appears before your payment processing forms is the perfect place for this kind of values-led storytelling—and it may help close the deal with newer sponsors who are not as familiar with your cause and its impact. 

A landing page for business sponsors with copy emphasizing the positive impact of corporate sponsorships and a progress meter showing that the nonprofit is $75k to its $100k goal.
A landing page for business sponsors with copy emphasizing the positive impact of corporate sponsorships and a progress meter showing that the nonprofit is $75k to its $100k goal.

6. Communicate Important Dates

Here’s four words that every event planner hates to hear: “When is that due?”

This can be infuriating, but forgetting things is part of being human. According to German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus, a certain percentage of newly learned items would be forgotten over time, with 90% being lost within 30 days.

So how can you get ahead of this using your event sponsorship form? By reminding your sponsors of important dates every step of the way. 

Besides incorporating those key dates into any campaign landing pages, you can also build in an automated email series to go out upon submission of the form to trigger on specific dates. 

While the sponsorship is important to you, it may be of secondary importance to the sponsor themselves and they may need reminding on some of the basics. 

Give them a helping hand by incorporating date reminders into your form experience. 

7. Incorporate Preferred Payment Methods

As finance departments begin to modernize their invoicing and vendor management processes with technologies like Intuit Quickbooks Online, there has also been a growing acceptance of paying larger amounts online. 

This is especially true when offering standard options like credit cards and especially ACH check processing. 

According to a 2022 Association for Financial Professionals (AFP) Digital Payments Survey found that just 33% of business-to-business (B2B) payments in the United States and Canada are made by check. 

Barely a decade ago, in 2013, the figure was 50%, while as far back as 2004 it was 81%. 

However, not every finance department will be comfortable with doing this. 

If your vendor insists on paying by check, using an event sponsorship form that’s directly  connected to your CRM can offer some big benefits.

Namely, this form may allow you to defer the payment while still collecting all the right information—and also building in follow-up steps to ensure that the invoice doesn’t ultimately fall through the cracks.

Offering a Pay Later option can get digital payments skeptics comfortable with the automation that comes with the process, especially if the receipts can be tailored to outline the process steps specific to the deferred payment.

An example of an event sponsorship form, specifically the section for sponsors that want to pay by entering their ACH details.
An example of an event sponsorship form, specifically the section for sponsors that want to pay by entering their ACH details.

8. Automate Tax Receipt Delivery

There is nothing more damaging to a sponsor relationship than making their finance department unhappy. 

Here’s something that can save you a world of frustration: Many times the person who is filling out the form in order to process the payment may not be the same one you have been speaking with regarding the sponsorship itself. 

Understanding this dynamic will help focus your design of that initial payment receipt. While it is critical to steward your sponsors and begin to deliver on the promises made around the event, the first order of business should be to confirm payment information in a clear and concise way. 

If possible, insert other identifying information that would normally be left off your receipts, such as the identification number of the payment itself. This ensures the payment can be quickly referenced or searched for if any questions arise about the sponsorship’s deliverables. 

It will also be critical to work through with your event planning team and your finance team how to properly communicate the tax deductibility of the sponsorship itself. As outlined by the National Council of Nonprofits, factors that may result in taxable income include:

  • Exclusivity: if a nonprofit promises a for-profit that it will be the “exclusive” sponsor, that promise triggers an automatic finding of “substantial return benefit” because the IRS considers exclusivity to be a significant benefit. (Using the word “endorse” can similarly imply a substantial benefit to the company that is being endorsed).
  • Providing inducements to buy a sponsor’s products or services.
  • Providing a link from a sponsor’s name/logo on the nonprofit’s website to the page of a sponsor’s website where a product or service is sold, or listing the phone number where the product or service can be ordered.
  • Providing more than token services or other privileges to the sponsor in return for its sponsorship payment.
  • Accepting a payment from a corporate sponsor that is contingent upon the level of attendance at the nonprofit’s event.
  • Providing sponsors with specific advertising opportunities, at no charge, in regularly scheduled publications that usually require paid advertising.

If possible, try to work these clearly into the initial receipt and if it warrants a follow up, then just ensure to address this before the event occurs so you and the sponsor can focus on making the event a success,  not worrying about the IRS.

9. Exit Page = Marketing Begins

Encouraging your sponsors to co-market the event isn’t just about spreading the word; there’s research to show that it helps the sponsor as well. 

The International Journal of Engineering Business Management published a study in 2020 that outlines a direct correlation between a company investing into corporate social responsibility initiatives and a strengthening of its brand equity. 

By utilizing your online payment form’s exit page, you can begin to kickstart the collaboration without needing to pick up the phone. 

A simple way to get things rolling  is to offer social media sharing options right on the exit page so the business partner can begin to post immediately about the sponsorship. This is especially streamlined for smaller businesses that might have the person filling out the form also running the social media for their company. 

Another option is to link to your sponsor media kit that can then provide the right assets to the sponsor to use when aligning your event with their brand. A media kit is a document that has all the relevant information about your nonprofit and the event itself. 

Providing this with templated language as well as promotional assets will assist in streamlining the co-marketing that the sponsor can do to their audiences.

An example of an even sponsorship form exit page that thanks the sponsor for their donation and directs them to the official sponsor kit.
An example of an even sponsorship form exit page that thanks the sponsor for their donation and directs them to the official sponsor kit.

10. Plan For Post-Event Engagement

Building a reputation as a stellar partner in the sponsorship process can lead to long term success for both you and the business you’re working with. 

A great way to do this is to promise a post-event recap of the event. While it is unrealistic to set up calls to go over this with each sponsor, creating a templated report will allow you to craft a compelling narrative of your event’s successes.

Utilize data collected from your form to help personalize your follow-up as well. 

For example, perhaps you build in a question about what motivated the business to sponsor your nonprofit’s event. This can then be referenced as why there was such a successful alignment between your event and the business. 

Or perhaps you ask a seemingly innocuous question about their coffee or tea preferences. This can then be utilized as part of a sponsor gift. 

Turning Event Sponsors Into Event Partners

Navigating the intricacies of event sponsorship involves more than just logistical planning; it’s about creating a harmonious partnership between your organization and businesses committed to supporting your cause. 

From the initial excitement of securing sponsors to the detailed coordination of paperwork and payments, every step offers an opportunity to reinforce the value of this collaboration. Emphasizing automation and strategic planning can transform mundane tasks into a seamless experience, ensuring that sponsors feel valued and engaged throughout the process. 

By focusing on the essence of generosity experience design—such as aligning sponsorship opportunities with the event’s ethos, ensuring transparent communication about tax implications, and selecting suitable payment methods—we set the stage for a mutually beneficial relationship. 

Remember, the goal is to celebrate the unique contributions of each sponsor, ensuring that their investment not only underwrites the event but also amplifies the spirit of generosity, ultimately leading to a successful and impactful event.

To learn more about event planning for nonprofits, check out the guide below!

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