John Trana: Sponsorships & Raising Money

Raising Money for your Team
Teams playing American football overseas have many of the same problems that plague teams in the United States. Raising money is a common problem for every football team. It is vital to attract new SPONSORS and keep current sponsors no matter what level of football you play. 

Where to find Sponsors
You need to market that you are looking for sponsors. Look for business that will appreciate the image of your team and matches with your philosophy. Ask your players if they or their families have contacts at any businesses. Also contact businesses that your team shops at. It will be easier to acquire sponsors if you already have a relationship with them. 

If you are in an area that is unfamiliar with American Football a great way to gain interest is to host a small practice or demonstration in a very populated area. It can be at the center of the city at the local town square. Contact the local media a head of time so they will cover the event. Have the entire team march to the square in their football equipment. That will draw a lot of attention. You can roll out a piece of carpet or other flooring to do drills on. A 4 man inside run drill with the remainder of the team cheering will create a lot of excitement. You should have some players handing out team schedules and contact information that includes a statement that you are looking for sponsors. Every person that stops to watch what you are doing is a potential sponsor. 

Local small business’s that are near the stadium are a good place to start. A simple way to begin is to have local bars and restaurants offer discounts on game days. Then promote the discounts at the games and make sure fans mention they were at the game. This will help in proving value to the business. A good way of starting a relationship is to simply ask them to display your schedule or team posters. Have players wear there uniforms or other team gear to the establishments as often as possible. 

You should look for large American based companies that are in the area. Many American fast food restaurants have locations overseas. Many of them are willing to help out local teams. The United States Embassy will normally have a list of American businesses in the area. They may also be able to provide you a contact list for the companies. 

When contacting large local companies it is important that they see your team as more then hobby. You must present your team in a professional manner at all times. If you can not find a person to contact at a company you can try to send team flyers inviting employees and management to a game. Once you have an established relationship offer to have the top executive by a honorary captain for a game and recognize his\her company in a special way at the game. 

Another way to find potential sponsors is to host a BMC, (BOOZE, SCHMOOZE and CRUISE). Invite many people and companies to an event where they can meet the team. If you have trophies or other awards make sure they are displayed. Have a highlight video playing that shows the emotion of the game. You want all participants to enjoy themselves and get to know the team. Do not ask them for large donations to start with. Try to build a relationship with them. A sponsorship can be as small as a discount at the business.

Targeting individuals or families that have large amounts of money can also be effective. Many people want to be involved with championship teams. Being an OWNER is a great way for some people to feel apart of something special and build there ego’s. 

Value for Sponsors
Now that you have targeted some potential sponsors you need to develop a marketing plan to quantify the benefits of being associated with your team. If you want companies or individuals to donate money you need to show them some type of value they will receive in return. 

Start with how you will display the company name or logo. Where will the name appear? How often will it appear in print media? Here are a few examples. 
  • Tshirts 
  • Billboards 
  • Game Programs 
  • Team and Game Posters
  • Team Schedules 
  • Website 
  • Advertising for games 

Prove to them how many and what type consumers will see their name. If the consumer is in their target audience you will have a much easier time getting larger dollar amounts from them. The best sponsorships will be ones that your fan base will shop at. The more value you can show to the sponsors the larger their support will become and many times they are willing to help you bring in other sponsors. 

Many sponsors want to know how their money is being spent. Be ready to show them your financial needs. Have a detailed budget on the expenses for running a team. Also have a wish list of items that the team will need in the future. Include the reasons why your team will need these items. 

Your team image is a major factor for sponsors. No one wants to be associated with negative press. It is very important that your team is portrayed in a positive manner in the media. Players and other people associated with the team need to understand that they are now representing both the sponsors and the team. This includes the players supporting your sponsors by shopping at their businesses. Always try to let the sponsors know when your team is at their business. 

Your game day stadium should display the names and logos of all your sponsors with the names of the largest donations on the top. If you hand out rosters at the games make sure to include the sponsors. Also send personal invitations to the main sponsors for each game. Always look to see if sponsors are at the game and have them announced to the crowd. All your team flyers should include major sponsors on them. 

You should have different levels of sponsorship with the top level getting the majority of the marketing. If possible at your stadium have a special area for sponsors to sit. Make them feel like they are a part of the team. At the end of each game have the players personally thank the sponsors for their support. The smallest gesture can make a big difference in the long run. 

The relationship between a sponsor and a team needs to be mutually beneficial for both parties. You want to keep sponsors for long periods of time and keep adding new ones along the way. Having a steady and constant amount of money to run your program will make it easier to plan for the future. 

John Trana