Why traditional sponsorship levels don’t work

I don’t think I have ever received a sponsorship proposal without clearly defined sponsorship levels. Usually there are gold, silver or bronze sponsors options, although some get pretty creative with names. Sponsorship seekers heavily rely on sponsors, yet they often don’t give them any choice to make their investment worthwhile.

In one of my previous posts I wrote about how to write a winning sponsorship proposal. In this post, I will explain a bit more in detail why I have avoided including any sponsorship levels in the proposal.


Too many sponsorship seekers focus only on themselves and on their needs. They forget to think about why a sponsor would want to get involved with them and/or their event in a first place. Do you really think it is because you’ve offered them to display their banners at a venue? Or because you have promised to put their logo on your website?

Sponsors expect a return on their investment. Whatever they have spent to support you or your event, sponsors would like to get back, multiplied if possible. And that goes for small value sponsorships right up to the top level sponsorships. If the sponsor doesn’t think their investment will be paid off, they would rather choose someone else to sponsor. Or an entirely different marketing communications tool.


When asking sponsors for the support, you first need to grab their attention. You will achieve this by showing them how well you know their business, and how deeply you understand what their goals are. Hence, your sponsorship proposal will give them some initial ideas on how to achieve their goals. This will definitely not come through in your neatly designed gold, silver or bronze levels.

As Kim Skildum-Reid from Power Sponsorship suggests in her blog, you can still have different tiers of sponsorship. This gives sponsors an initial idea of what investment they will be looking at. However, leave those tiers open to negotiation and individual tailoring. Instead of offering to become a Gold Sponsor at a value of $50,000 with 3 banners and one speaker slot included, invite them to become one of your Principal Sponsors, for example. ‘Principal sponsorship is generally valued at $50,000, it is a minimum 3 years sponsorship contract, and there are only three sponsorships available in this category – talk to us about the details of the sponsorship’.

If the sponsor will be happy to display their banners and have a speaking slot, you can still offer them exactly that. But with a bit more creative invitation you open a whole array of other, more valuable options for sponsors. And this will make them want to participate and support you or your event! This will also distinguish you from many other sponsorship seekers that are competing for the same sponsors.

Why traditional sponsorship levels don't work?

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