How to Get Sponsors for Your Race {with free pitch deck}

Baseball pitcher to illustrate article content

Have you thought about getting sponsors for your race? Perhaps you already have some but need to negotiate terms or even find additional sponsors. Getting businesses to stand behind your event and contribute financially or with prizes, equipment or other items needed for the race, can be a great option to help with your larger costs and a chance for you to spend more on making the event worthwhile for your participants. 

However, sponsor hunting can require a fair share of time and effort, and sometimes it can be hard to know where to start. This guide will help you prepare, pitch and reel in some great sponsorship deals for your event. 

Your Sponsorship Pitch Template

Check out this pitch deck template (Google Slides) that includes a layout for a successful pitch as well as ideas on how you can offer to display your sponsor’s brand at and around the event. We hope it helps you get going on your sponsorship deals. Fill out the form to get a copy of the deck (we ask for your email so we can send it to you) and keep reading to find out how to use it.

Prepare for Your Sponsorship Presentation 

Before you get into it, you need to be clear why you want sponsors and what your goal is with each sponsorship type. What would you like out of it, and perhaps most important, what can you offer in return? The best sponsorships are mutually beneficial agreements that give you what you need for your event but also keeps the sponsors satisfied by offering a new audience or branding that leads to business revenue for them. Things to consider in your planning: 

  1. Define what your race is, your own goals and if you can, write down some numbers that you anticipate being interesting. For example “this year we expect 700 participants and in total, 1500 people will be attending the event split by staff and spectators”. 
  2. Research and decide which companies are fitting sponsors for your race. Perhaps, having an alcohol brand as a sponsor will not give the right image to your participants and your race branding… Sustainability and health-focused big brands often have an interest in getting visibility in sports settings as they want the positive association with their brand. Remember though, that they don’t necessarily have to be directly in the health and fitness industry. 
  3. Make a list of these companies, and their contact information, websites and other useful information. 
  4. Get in touch and start pitching! Start with any connections you have to potential companies. When you are out of connections, put together an email template and send out to all contacts on your list. Follow that email up with a phone call shortly after and ask for a proper meeting to discuss the opportunity. 

How to Pitch Your Sponsorship Deal 

The next step is to prepare a pitch deck or pitch notes. You can do this in many ways; from as simple as jotting down the main reasons someone should sponsor you; to actually preparing a nice presentation or PDF that outlines your ideas. Extra effort is usually appreciated and you can have a higher chance of landing sponsorship if you are well prepared with a proper presentation. Some important parts to include in your pitch deck: 

Data and facts about your race: include future goals, current statistics including number of participants and any demographic data you have about your participants, etc. 

Media exposure: how is your race getting exposure digitally? Include data about any digital channels you have such as visitors on your website, social media and other channels you are active on, like athlete forums or online race calendars. You can also include features or articles from local newspapers or magazines. 

Direct audience engagement ​​and brand interaction: how will your participants be able to interact or know about your potential sponsor’s brand at the event and in other channels?

Brand prestige: remind the potential sponsor about the benefits of associating their brand with your race: promoting a healthy and active lifestyle in the society, notions of responsibility for the community, and the long-term brand collaboration that you can build together over time. 

Try to spend only about 20% of the presentation giving facts and bigging up your race. The rest should be spent talking about benefits for the sponsor. End the presentation with a sponsorship proposal for them to consider. 

How to Structure A Sponsorship Proposal and What to Offer

There are various ways you can ask a company to contribute and collaborate with you. You can adjust the proposal for smaller or larger companies. In some instances it can make sense to do a very specific and smaller collaboration such as a vendor giving you a free item for your goodie bag in exchange for also putting a sales flier in there too. There are four main types of sponsorship: 

  • Financial Sponsorship: the sponsor offers money in exchange for exposure or other agreements
  • In-kind Sponsorship: the sponsor provides goods or services to the event organizer – this can be food or drinks, or providing prizes for the top finishers.
  • Media Sponsorship or cross-marketing: your sponsor offers you exposure in their channels to help promote your race, in exchange for similar exposure at the event from your side.
  • Promotional Sponsorship: this is often an individual that has a large following on social media or the like that can help your race become famous. A good way to apply this, is to invite top athletes to your race for free and even pay for their trip and accommodation in exchange for a number of posts about the race in their channel.

For in-kind, media and promotional sponsorships it may be possible to agree on a collaboration by reaching out to social channels and skipping heavy contracts. But if you pitch for a larger collaboration, such as a title sponsor, we suggest you give the potential sponsor some options in a pitch deck and try to get a meeting. It can look like this for example: 

Example of a sponsorship proposal
This slide is part of the free pitch deck template you can download at the top of the post! 

Where to Find Sponsors 

There are many ways to approach and find companies that want to sponsor events. Here are some tips where to start from: 

  • Think about your network. Where do your friends work? Do you have connections on Linkedin to people that could make introductions to decision-makers at larger companies that would be a good fit for you? It is always better if you can get some sort of introduction to a person directly, as it saves you many phone calls to get through to the right person. 
  • Search local company databases
  • Go to your local restaurants or shops
  • Use an online forum or service specifically for getting sponsors such as Open Sponsorship, Looking for Sponsor or Sponsorpitch.

Remember to start early if you need sponsors, because it can take some time to prepare, pitch and finally sign an agreement. Best of luck, and let us know if we can help you – we are happy to get you in touch with some of the brands in the RaceID network that are keen on collaborating with outdoor events. Just let us know!