These notes are based on my outline from my Rollercon class. I know that we covered more in the question section than I may have included. Please, feel free to ask questions at the bottom of the blog or add notes in the bottom of other things we talked about. You can also contact me at DerbyAmerica@yahoo.com for other questions.
Also, I apologize for the formatting. WordPress has no love for Microsoft Word.
This seems like an obvious question, but many of us forget that sponsorship not just “brings in money” but it pays for bout production (including rental, tape, EMTs, hospitality, the paycheck for the teams that we bring in), travel costs and extras like banquets, gifts and that little slush fund to make sure we can pay our rink rental fee in case the vets forget to pay their dues again.
When approaching sponsorship, we must do so with an open mind, a willingness to work with others, a humility to accept outside ideas and an understanding that this is one of the hardest parts (and most crucial) of running a roller derby league. We are a business. We need to treat ourselves like one.
Identify What Your League Has to Offer
- Physically – What can your league give sponsors? Examples: Ad space in the program, Pivot Line, Penalty Box, banners at home bouts, space in bathroom flyers during home bouts, webspace, social media placement, announcer spots, space on booty shorts, space in the middle of the track, scoreboard space … You are limited only by your imagination
- Business-Wise – What are your metrics? Who is your audience? Who comes to your home bouts now, and who are you targeting to get to your home bouts? Do you market to specific neighborhoods? Age groups? You must be familiar with not only the demographics of your crowd/target market (where they live, how old they are) but the Ethnographic data as well (what are their hobbies, what do they value). If you have none, then it’s time to collect some data. Work with your marketing chair to determine these. Doing a quick online survey (where you ask derby girls to NOT fill out the information) could be a great way to get started on building metrics.
- Do not overlook the importance of in kind donations.
- Ask for the money first, but when a business cannot provide a check, ask if they can provide water for bouts, a spot for the after party, a basket to raffle, items for hospitality, etc.
- Are you a 501c3 or an LLC?
- LLCs cannot take donations, but you can sell ads. 501c3s cannot sell ads, but they can take donations. Check with your lawyers and rules to get the specific semantics involved in the legal mumbojumbo
- Don’t focus on either packages OR ads, you must diversify to attract as many sponsors as possible
- Ad sizes: Full Page, Half Page, Quarter Page, Eighth page (business card)
- Prices should not simply double as the ad space doubles. A good starting point for ads is: Eighth $35, Quarter $50, Half $75, Full $100
- Can you offer a $50 add-on for color ads? What about $25 to design the ad for the business?
- Decide what payment forms you will accept – cash, check, Paypal are the good ways to start.
- Look at your budget for the year to determine goals. Work with your Treasurer (at minimum) or your whole Board (at max) to look at the budget for expected expenses for the upcoming season. Projected travel trips, how much the team wants to commit to paying for skaters, any possible ref clinics or coach training that could come up, number of home bouts to cover, etc etc. If you do not have a budget, time to build one! From there, Set your sponsorship goal at least $1000 higher than your top range number. It’s better to shoot high and fall short.
- Don’t know what to price your packages and ads at? Look at other sports teams in your area. Call up playhouses, baseball teams, high schools and get their package pricing guides. Do some research and see what your competition is offering for sponsorship.
- You don’t need a brochure! Spending money on high quality printed materials may be an expense your league can do without. Can you put everything you need on a one-sheet of paper? If you have people who can speak well and sell the packages, let them do the selling. Don’t rely on your brochure to do the selling for you.
- Get a printer to sponsor you! Then, your shiny sponsorship packet that your President insists you create will be much cheaper. Get an in kind trade, and see if they’ll print your bout posters and programs too.
- Can’t get a printer sponsor? If you’re doing a black and white one sheet, approach local law offices. Ask them to print them for you in return for advertising space.
- Work with the marketing department to create visuals
- ELECTRONIC VERSIONS ARE NECESSARY!! Put them on your website and your social media sites for businesses to find easily.
Distributing materials & collecting money
- Get your whole league involved. If that means establishing a requirement of $25 of ad space sold per quarter or $50 of ad space per year.
- Create a list of ideal sponsors for the year. Have league members sign up to speak to specific sponsors (If they know someone in the business that should get priority).
- Create a separate list where league members can list businesses where they have a contact already.
- Do not let money get transferred through too many people. The sponsorship person can collect and deposit money and then immediately report deposits to treasurer. Creating a paper trail is key to prevent internal theft and money issues.
- When league members are distributing materials, they should be briefed beforehand on a history of the league and of roller derby. (Some leagues require a public relations class before a skater is allowed to certify) If they don’t know the answer to a question, they should say that they don’t know the answer, but will find out for them.
- Who is the info going to? If you know who your target market is, you know who you should be courting as sponsors. Decide ahead of time your stance on political groups, religious groups, sex-industry businesses, etc.
- Decide league goals before you go any further. If you don’t know what the goal is, what are you fundraising for? Some goals could be to host more home bouts, to travel more, to have a big public event or tournament.
- If your league members are already heavily involved in sponsorship, offer rewards for participation (lower banquet fees, money off of travel costs). If they refuse to be involved, make it a mandatory requirement.
- Be creative, always be looking for the next sponsorship opportunity and don’t be afraid to ask for the sale!