It's likely you've signed up to a shit-your-pants adventure but have you asked yourself why? You may want to leave the daily plod and have a massive whack of fun or you're driven by fundraising for charity. Remember from the outset, working with sponsors will shape your adventure, they'll be with you every step of the way. You'll need to give them something in return for what they've given you. Unless they're really generous and forgetful, highly unlikely. But hang about this is your adventure, right? You don't want to be covered in brand stickers and uploading 6 blogs per day, surely? Or maybe you do. Ask yourself how much you're willing to give before, during and after your adventure.
If you want to be totally free from the needs of sponsors then maybe a bar job is an easier solution to get what you need but if you're dedicated and up for it, then crack on because this part of your adventure can be very rewarding. Don't let the bewildering task of searching for sponsors put you off. Those that stick with it see tremendous results. You can exchange all types of goodness from the right organisations that bring oodles of benefits to all those involved. It's not just a two way transaction between you and them. The adventure and the charity you support can benefit too. It becomes a natural partnership in which everyone is a winner.
Research, research, research some more. If you're a geek, you're in your element, if not, become the irritating expert. Its sounds obvious but read up on all the charities’ fine work and understand your goals inside and out. Organisations you approach will be keen to know about what it is they are supporting. Make sure you fully understand what your adventure will entail. Research the regions and environments you'll be passing through. Start thinking about what makes you appealing for a potential sponsor.
There are many ways to go about this, be creative, we hate to use the old cliche but think outside your box. These ideas below will hopefully get the search juices flowing:
In the beginning
Be honest about what it is you're doing. You're off on an adventure and part of that will involve fundraising for charity. You'll be having a shit load of fun, you'll learn a lot and if you're a wimp you may even cry a lot but one thing is for sure, there'll be many personal motivations for taking part. Don't be ashamed to tell people you're off to have a good time and that you're raising money and awareness for charity too. People appreciate a genuine rounded story. Unless you really are solely doing this to raise charitable funds only don't make it the emphasis of your trip. Some sponsors may object to helping you have a 'jolly', if so, move on to the next, they're clearly not the right type to be working with. Adventure isn't all about having a good time, certainly not, finding sponsors that recognise this is half the battle. You're doing something good and don't forget it. A quality sponsor will appreciate what an adventure sponsorship can entail and how the positive associations can benefit everyone involved.
It's very likely you'll have organisations and companies right on your door step. Tap them up first off. People in your community are often very willing to help, especially with 'goods in kind'. It might be your local mechanics or salvage yard that can provide spare parts. Camping shops, big or small, may have kit they can give away. This stands for all adventures, motor, horse, space or sweat powered. It works well as you can include them in local press coverage and they might not expect you to provide so much in return.
Family & Friends
One by one hold them all to ransom. A big part of securing sponsorship is building relationships with those that invest in you. Hopefully you've done this with your nearest and dearest already. It can also be a fun and more personal way to work, maybe a friend has a new business that needs a boost? Sponsorship can really help the profile of small start-ups and it may avoid lot's of bureaucracy that looms in the big gun companies. Networks through family and friends can lead to all types of opportunity. So, attend your gran's bridge club meetings and buy your mate that well earned pint.
This worldwide beast is going to be your most powerful tool. Searching online will provide you with hundreds of possible sponsors. You can locate them locally, nationally and internationally. We're not going to tell you what the internet is capable of, that bit you'll have to work out for yourself.
Who looks after the purse strings?
It all depends on what size and type of organisation you're approaching. Very often sponsorship falls under the marketing departments wing but this isn't always the case. As an example in a small business the Managing Director nearly always has to sign off investment, no matter how big or small. There are various job titles to look out for, here are some examples. Marketing Manager/Director, Sponsorship Manager, Chief Proposal Scrapper, Marketing Executive, Marketing Assistant, Brand Manager, and on and on and on...
The big guns can be hard cookies to crack but if you're successful they can offer great support. Finding the right people inside these humongous organisations can be difficult, be tenacious and persistent in your hunt. Eventually you'll find the right decision maker. Often you'll be knocked back by switchboard operators, to avoid this rejection, do a little internet research prior to calling. Find a contact name and department so that you can be put straight through.
Have a good think about what makes you different from everyone else and come up with something original. Sponsors will have various needs so you'll need to be flexible and work to together. It's still very important to have a coherent plan but once you have their interest you can tailor opportunities together.
Have a think about these things as a starting point;
- Where are you from? Can you make a connection with a particular sponsor in your region?
- Do you have an interesting reason for doing this adventure? Not some X-Factor cry baby story, but something genuinely interesting...
- Do you have any unusual plans for your adventure that will mean your photos and videos will stand out from the crowd and get more attention than the standard boring travelogues?
- Do you have any skills that you can shout about? Are you good at blogging? Interviewing people? Taking photos?
- What are you doing to promote your adventure before, during and after and how can your sponsors get involved?
What you can ask for
You can ask your team sponsors for pretty much anything. You're much more likely to get it if it's realistic and relevant though.
Here's a few ideas of stuff you can ask for, and remember, cash is hard to give and stuff is easier for sponsors to part with. And of course ultimately you should ignore all the sensible advice and come up with your own original ideas;
- Cash money for your charity
- Travel insurance, flights
- Cash money for your own reasonable adventure costs*
- Any and all stuff that you think you need to take with you - known as 'goods-in-kind'
- Kit to help you take awesome photos and videos of your adventure
- Services. For example a PR company to get you media coverage or a designer to make you a fancy team logo
People are often very generous with their time, services and products but not so generous when it comes to giving cash, but that doesn’t make it impossible. Past teams have got sponsors of all flavours. Teams have had all their costs covered, they've had flights and gear given to them in return for exposure.
There's no single answer about what you should ask for or what you can get. It changes from team to team, country to country, and day to day depending on your sponsors needs and budget.
One thing is important though - be persistent and offer good value in return. Good stuff is never easy to get.
*With the right team sponsors your adventure could cost you bugger all. As a team you can ask for enough money to cover the costs of the actual adventure and money you spend to make it all happen. This includes all the necessary gubbins like flights, visas, injections, general equipment, etc. If you get offered a bunch of cash and it is obviously a lot more than just covering your reasonable costs then we ask that you donate this money to one of your team charities. The actual definition of 'reasonable costs' is down to you guys to determine based on what your plans are and common sense about what it all costs.
What you can offer
Here are some ideas about things you can offer your sponsors to get good stuff in return:
- Advertising space on your vehicle, except the space reserved for official stickers
- Brand Logos on your team website, pages within the adventure site and also an external site if you have one
- Posts on your Facebook pages and Team Facebook pages
- Tweets from your personal and team twitter accounts
- Branding and hosting opportunities at your fundraising events
- Regional/National media coverage (Radio, press and TV)
- Blog content
Offer your own ideas and fundraising events to promote sponsors
If you're fundraising (not to be confused with sponsorship, fundraising is collecting charitable funds) why not put together a massive party. Ask a local venue if they'll provide the space. Do something investigating and find a DJ, band, comedian or famous speaker. Your sponsor can host the party. They may be the local brewery, DJ hire company or a bigger organisation that can help cover costs. All these bits of support add up to big savings. If partying isn't your thing maybe you can provide a talk for your sponsor and their staff when you return.
There are many ways to involve sponsors branding before you set off. Why not think of a stunt that promotes your adventure. One of our favourites was Mongol Rally veteran Laura Byng attempting the World Dodgem Record.
Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and other social content platforms.
You can post pictures and mention your sponsors using your personal news feeds but if they'd like to use content and promote sponsorship on their facebook brand pages, youtube channels or twitter feeds you must get in contact with us.
Things you can't offer your sponsors
Below are some annoying restrictions on team sponsorship. Sorry. We have these to help us get sponsors for The Adventurists, which means the events gets bigger and better for you guys.
If you have any doubts or questions just give us a shout on firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll work with you to make it happen if we can, scouts honour.
- Photography and video footage for use in commercial marketing or advertising
- Photography and video footage for use on sponsors Facebook pages without approval from HQ
- Product testing. If you do have a company interested in this kind of sponsorship, it is vital that you contact HQ.
- Event sponsorship. It has to be absolutely clear that they are sponsoring you as a team rather than the event itself
- Sponsorship of a documentary or film. You can do as much filming as you like if the video is for personal uses. But any broadcast or commercial use of footage of the event has to be approved by HQ in advance. You also can’t sell DVDs or videos of the Rally yourself without permission from HQ. It’s really important that you contact us about filming projects to avoid complications further down the line.
This list is not intended as an update or replacement for the Team Entry Agreement, but hopefully provides a plain English explanation of the main restrictions for team sponsorship.
Cultivate and deliver
Once you've secured a sponsor you should keep them informed throughout each stage of your adventure and how your plans are shaping up. It sounds obvious but don't just disappear Make sure sponsors see that you value their support. Send them a thank-you letter that recaps the benefits of the proposal. If you keep sharing ideas and plans you may find new ways to improve and increase the sponsorship.
It's important to keep this line of communication up. If they call you, return their call as soon as possible. No matter what level of support they've provided, you have a duty to deliver your promises and keep them informed. A newsletter won't break the bank and will keep them up to date with your progress. This is a new relationship which could be the start of many great adventures so look after them and make sure you fulfill what you promised.
- Remember, you must deliver each part of the agreed proposal
- Make sure you contact them at the end of the adventure and de-brief fully on all your achievements
- Tell them how much money was raised for your charities
- Pull together and showcase any publicity you received
Get every little piece of everything possible that contains their name, logo, reference, product and present it to them.