Finding sponsors, whether it’s for a youth sports league or an individual team, can be tricky. I know I struggled with finding sponsors for the first couple of teams that I helped coach. For me, I found that brainstorming a list of potential sponsors is a great way to get the ball rolling.
So how do you find sponsors for youth sports?
The best way to find sponsors for youth sports is to start with the people you know and then branch out into the local community. Look for new businesses that want to market themselves and businesses that have a history of sponsoring youth organizations.
It’s important to keep in mind that it never hurts to approach potential sponsors. You should have a basic idea of what you’ll say when seeking sponsorships. Your ask may vary depending on who you’re seeking sponsorship from and this article will give you tips on how to handle each ask.
Start with People You Know
When looking for sponsors for your youth league, it’s best to reach out to people you know first. Do you have any friends that own a business? How about a family member? Both of these options serve as great opportunities for sponsorships.
You should also look into the possibility of your work sponsoring the league. If your work doesn’t end up sponsoring the league and you’re coaching, you can always ask the players’ parents if they know any businesses that would be interested.
In this day and age, we all seem to know somebody with an entrepreneurial side. If you bring up the fact that the league is looking for sponsors, the parents might have a business in mind.
If you go this route I suggest bringing it up in a meeting with the team early on in the season so you can determine if any sponsorship opportunities are out there.
Local Sponsorship Opportunities
Sometimes finding sponsorship is as easy as looking into the community. If you know of any businesses that have sponsored your league at some point in the past, there’s a decent chance they’d be willing to serve as a sponsor for the upcoming season as well.
Another thing to consider is asking businesses who sponsor different sports leagues. For example, if you see a local sub shop sponsoring a youth football league, there’s a chance they’d also be willing to sponsor a youth baseball league. All you have to do is ask and you’ll get an answer.
Another thing you should do when looking into the local community is to target new businesses. These businesses would love to get their names out there and your sports league offers a perfect opportunity to do so.
You should also look into asking businesses who are affiliated in some way to the sport you’re involved with. So for just about any sport, you could ask a local sporting goods store.
Also, if you’re a youth baseball league you could ask the local minor league team if they’d be interested in being a sponsor.
In addition to these examples, you should try brainstorming a list of businesses that would benefit from the exposure that would come from sponsoring your league.
A prime example of this is a restaurant that’s fairly close to the fields your league plays at.
Speaking from my own experience growing up, I know that we would frequently visit nearby restaurants after games and practices. It just makes sense for these restaurants to sponsor your league.
Try to keep that in mind when you go around talking to them.
Partner With Local Businesses for Special Events
We’ve all been to a restaurant, whether it’s fast food or dine-in, that has donated part of that night’s proceeds to an organization. Why do restaurants do this?
Restaurants like to do this because it ultimately brings in more customers and more than makes up for the amount they’re donating to the organization.
Their goal is to also get their name out there as much as possible. These donations usually work in the way of a flyer. A lot of organizations like to hand out flyers to people who then have to present them at checkout.
This indicates to the restaurant that you came because of the organization. The more people that present the flyer, the more likely the restaurant is to agree to similar arrangements in the future.
So if you have a restaurant in mind, give them a call and see if they’re interested in working something out. You should also make sure that the details of the event are very clear.
For example, I see a lot of people from the benefiting organizations passing out pamphlets right outside the restaurant doors. Depending on the restaurant, they may or may not be okay with this.
Handing out flyers at the door will benefit the organization greatly but has the potential to hurt the restaurant. The restaurant likely had a number in their head of how many potential people the event would bring in and how much they’d have to donate.
By handing out flyers at the door, the amount that gets donated has the potential to exponentially increase. Before you organize any kind of event with a restaurant, make sure you have the details solidified.
The great thing about these events is that there’s potential to have several more of them throughout the course of a season. If the restaurant sees a considerable increase in traffic from the event, the likelihood of another similar event taking place drastically increases.
You should do everything in your power to stay on the good side of these restaurants to keep the door open for more potential events. With all that said, you should still try and get sponsorships for the entire year.
Year-long sponsorships will bring in more money and are more reliable than forming partnerships on specific days with restaurants.
It Never Hurts to Ask
If you ask a business if they’re interested in sponsoring your team, the worst thing they can say is no. For this reason, it’s really worth it to put yourself out there and reap the potential benefits.
You should always make sure you go into your ask prepared to maximize the chance they agree to be a sponsor. Asking a business to sponsor your league really isn’t as big of a deal as some would make it out to be.
There are businesses out there more than willing to donate to your organization, it’s just up to you to make it happen.
No one is going to yell at you for asking them to sponsor your league. Unless you’re going about it poorly, you’ll be fine. Sponsorships are win-win situations for both parties and most businesses would be happy to at least entertain the idea.
When it comes to finding sponsors, it’s important to not overthink these situations because you never know what someone will say. They could agree to what you offer or they could ask if there are any other sponsorship opportunities available.
If you play your cards right, you could be on your way to securing a multi-season partnership in addition to making valuable connections.
Know the Numbers
When you go around asking business and individuals to sponsor your league, it’s important that you’re very specific with what you’re asking. You should already have an idea of what you’re looking for and it’s important that you convey that to potential sponsors.
One of the first things you should do when talking to business is to make it clear whether a sponsorship would benefit the entire league or an individual team.
Before you set out to find potential sponsors, it’s important you check with your league to see what kind of sponsors are needed. For example, the local Little League was seeking sponsorships for the entire league, not just for one team.
And for each sponsor that was brought in, a banner was placed on the outfield wall of the corresponding field that the team played on. This is just what the local league does so it’s definitely worthwhile to find out how your league handles sponsorships.
You should also be really specific when you’re asking for sponsorships. Don’t leave interactions with potential sponsors open for interpretation. Show them what they get for their money.
A good way to do this is to show them a photo of how past sponsors were portrayed, rather that’s an outfield banner or a logo on uniforms.
Another potential idea is to bring the team or a couple of players with you when talking to businesses, so the businesses get a better idea of who they’re supporting.
If you go this route, make sure to get permission from the parents first.
It’s important that you know the numbers before you seek out any potential sponsors. How many kids play in the league? How many adults attend games and practices?
Do the fields stay in use when the season ends? All of these things matter when approaching businesses that will want an idea of how many people are going to see their logo.
Another thing to consider is if the people who see these logos are potential customers. Does the league take place in a part of town where there’s more disposable income? All of this matters for sponsors as they are looking for a return on investment.
It’s also important to mention where the money from sponsorships goes. Is it going to something specific such as lights? Uniforms? Field maintenance? The more information you can give to businesses, the more likely they’ll sponsor your league.
And if possible it’s a great idea to break down operating costs for the league. If only 30% of the costs to run the league are covered through player enrollment, let sponsors know this.
Really hit home the importance sponsors are for the continuation of the league. You should be going into these interactions with potential sponsors with as many numbers as you can.
National Sponsorship Opportunities
I think it’s important that you start locally when seeking sponsorships. Supporting local businesses is always best, but if you’re not having much luck you can start looking nationally.
With these companies, you should probably reach out to local chains first. If you don’t have any luck locally, go on their website and see if they have any information regarding sponsorships.
If you can’t find anything try to locate a contact number and go from there. There’s a decent chance that it’s only a generic national number but whoever picks up should be able to point you in the right direction.
It just makes sense to ask his national companies about sponsorships. They’re always looking for opportunities to market themselves. As previously mentioned, corporations who are affiliated in some way with the sport you’re coaching are more likely to hop on-board.
There’s an increased chance that these companies will have an interest in sponsoring your league. All you have to do is ask.
Following Up With Potential Sponsors
Great! You put yourself out there and asked a business if they have any interest in sponsoring your youth league. The only issue now is that it’s been two weeks and you haven’t heard back from them.
In these situations, it really pays to follow up. You never know what might be on their plate and touching base with them will give you a better idea of what they’re going through.
Remember you have nothing to lose. Just make sure you’re very respectful about the way that you follow up.
It’s possible that the business didn’t have time to get back to you or they could have simply forgotten. You shouldn’t take this personally and you should give them plenty of time to respond to you.
A couple of weeks is a good amount of time to give before following up. This gives the business plenty of time to think over their decision. If you don’t have any luck with your initial follow-up, it might be worth following up again further down the line.
If nothing results from that follow-up, it’s probably time to move on. Make sure that you start asking for sponsorships well before the season starts so there’s room for you to follow-up.
Present Different Levels of Sponsorship
Before you set out to find sponsors, it’s important to be aware of the different sponsorship levels available. Not every business is going to have the same marketing budget; this is why you should present different sponsorship levels.
Doing this also won’t limit yourself to the amount of money you can bring in from businesses. You should play each business you approach with an idea of which sponsorship level they’re most likely to agree to.
For national companies and local businesses with a history of sponsoring youth leagues, it would be a good idea to present all the sponsorship opportunities available.
You shouldn’t limit yourself by only presenting the smallest levels of sponsorship to businesses that are more likely to spend more money. The inverse can also be said.
Presenting expensive sponsorship opportunities to local mom-and-pop businesses probably wouldn’t be the best idea, but you should still play each situation by ear to a certain degree.
When it’s all said and done, you’ll never know what a business may or may not agree to. Go into every encounter with some flexibility and you’re sure to find some sponsors.