30 Tips to Gain Sponsors, Engage Donors, & Grow Fundraising Events

Finding the right sponsors for fundraising events can seem like putting a puzzle together with sunglasses on in a dark room. You know sponsorships are important for completing the picture of a successful event, but it’s hard to find the right pieces (businesses)—let alone figure out how to click them into place.

Our recent webinar—Top Sponsorship Tips: Raise More in No Time—removed the sunglasses to expose a bright, new world of repeat sponsorship and donor engagement ideas to so many nonprofits. The guest speaker’s unique and actionable advice was eye-opening! The one-hour webinar would have turned into an all-day affair if Dan had attempted to answer the outpouring of enthusiastic questions from attendees.

So, we dove deep into the unanswered questions and organized them into categories based on similar themes, like Event Planning, Acquiring Sponsors, Creating a Pitch, and so on. After, we combined these questions to narrow down the scope while still addressing most. And this blog, jam-packed with advice, is the result!

About the Top Sponsorship Tips Guest Speaker

By day, Dan McGuane is a leader at the mechanical contracting company N.B. Kenney.

But for years, Dan has volunteered as the auction chair and vice president of the wildly successful For Kids’ Sake Charity Golf Tournament that N.B. Kenney organizes and presents year after year for the foundation. *Dan is also organizing the First Annual For Kids’ Sake Festival happening this summer!*

Dan's history of exceeding annual fundraising goals is impressive. And that is largely due to: 1.) The memorable experiences he creates for sponsors and individual donors, and 2.) His lack of "ask shyness" when he approaches sponsors for their support.


The worst that happens is that potential sponsors say “no.”

And then, you either negotiate a compromise or move on to the next. Dan


A  sample of Dan and N.B. Kenney Company’s track record:

  • Raised $40 THOUSAND within the first 12 hours of launching their annual event
  • Increased the number of golfers from 30 to 292 in a few short years
  • Sold out an entire tournament in less than a single week
  • Brought in $175 THOUSAND that went straight to the nonprofit (after all event costs) last year, which is a huge leap from how the event was losing money the year before Dan and his team took it over and started focusing it on For Kids' Sake

*For Kids’ Sake’s mission is to raise funds for life-saving childhood cancer research and families devastated after a recent diagnosis. Dan is a close friend of the foundation’s cofounders, Meg and Glen Jusczyk, and the cause is personal. The Jusczyks started For Kids’ Sake over a decade ago when their young daughter Malia beat stage IV cancer against many odds. But after nearly 10 years cancer-free, she had an earth-shattering relapse. Malia died right before her 15th birthday in June 2023.  Now, the foundation and its supporters are more determined than ever to help other children survive the odds in Malia's honor.*


Top Sponsorship Tips

On Planning an Effective Fundraising Tournament [7 Tips]

First, you want to figure out when your planning committee should first come together. But how many months in advance you should start planning depends on a bunch of different factors. Since pretty much the same volunteer committee at N.B. Kenney has run the For Kids’ Sake golf tournament for many years, Dan and the rest of the volunteer team are familiar with working together and each other’s strengths.

They also have a solid donor base hungry to sign up every year and a bunch of repeat local and national sponsors that value taking part in the cause.

So, they usually sit down for a recap of last year’s event around every February and have the tournament sometime between July – September (about 5–7 months in advance). But every event is different. Some questions to ask yourself, no matter your event size:


Are you new to running golf tournaments or fundraising events in general?

  1. If this is your first year or two, consider giving yourself a 9–12-month head start.

  2. Make sure everyone—your core team, the board, volunteers, etc.—is on the same page, especially if you’re planning a project that requires you to come together as a big team in a new way.

  3. Give yourself space to prepare for any little kinks or wrenches that might crop up with vendors, locations, merchandise, and so on.

  4. Plus, if you don’t already have a base of sponsorship connections or core volunteers, then you want time to secure what you need.


How much do you want to grow this year, and what do you have to do to “go for it”?

  1. Raising the cost per foursome takes less planning time than developing a fresh promotional outreach angle to gain new supporters (both are useful but need different amounts of energy).

  2. Using donor and volunteer engagement software to keep in touch with past donors, sponsors, and volunteers takes less time than relying on an Excel spreadsheet, where it’s harder to save and access history in a usable way.

  3. Once you decide on how much you want to grow (and what you want to do to grow) your next event, you’ll find it easier to decide whether you should start planning 6 months or 9 months ahead of time.


On Acquiring Sponsors and Developing Your Pitch [2 Tips/Tools]

This was such a popular set of questions throughout the Top Sponsorship Tips webinar, that we went into overdrive to create this usable toolkit that includes:

  1. Sponsorship Acquisition Checklist
  2. Pitch Worksheet [usable template]

Grab a free copy here:

Use this Ultimate Toolkit to gain sponsorships!


On Hosting Easy Fundraising Events That Bring  in Solid Revenue [6 Tips]

  1. The easiest events for a nonprofit have less to do with “event type” and more to do with letting corporate sponsors raise money on its behalf. *For instance, Dan’s company, N.B. Kenney, runs the annual charity golf tournament on For Kids’ Sake’s behalf, and every cent they raise goes directly to the nonprofit.*

  2. You can also welcome dedicated supporters to host their own DIY campaigns or even participate in marathons to raise funds for your nonprofit. *Meg  Jusczyk brought up a great example of this when she was the featured speaker in a FrontStream webinar on peer-to-peer fundraising—one of their supporters hosted a cornhole tournament in his backyard. He threw up some flyers with a QR code that linked to the donation page and invited friends, family, and neighbors. He planned to raise a couple thousand but ended up pulling in a whopping $15,000, all from an afternoon of fun in the yard!*

  3. The key to making it easy for supporters to raise funds for your nonprofit is all about removing barriers. By using the right fundraising software with integrated payment processing, supporters don’t have to handle all the donations or figure out a secure way to pass them off to your nonprofit. Instead, you can simply set up an event webpage that they can easily customize and direct supporters to buy tickets and donate directly to the charity. (Since FrontStream allows nonprofits to set up an unlimited number of events, it’s especially helpful for allowing corporate-sponsored events and DIY campaigns to run at the same time.)

Other easy ways to raise funds for your cause:

  1. Run auctions as part of another event (like a golf tournament or 5k race) OR as a standalone event. *Risk-free auction items from FrontStream’s Consignment Marketplace make it even simpler to run digital mini-auctions on Impact Days or Impact Months that align with your mission.*

  2. Encourage local businesses to highlight your charity as a great option for employees in their payroll giving campaigns/through their workplace giving programs.

  3. Get your community involved with peer-to-peer fundraising events like walk-a-thons or even video game tournaments.

For more fundraising-event brainstorming, check out this guide filled with 150+ auction items and event ideas:


Free guide: 150+ Fundraising Ideas Donors Will LOVE  

On Growing Your Fundraising Event (Especially if You Sell Out Every Year) [8 Tips]

  1. Look at how long you’ve had the same ticket/entry fee. It may be time to raise it.

  2. If you do decide to raise prices, it’s a good idea to budget some of the extra revenue for upping the overall event experience so supporters feel good about it, and you end up bringing in more money for your cause.

  3. Move to a bigger venue. *In the case of the For Kids’ Sake golf tournament, N.B. Kenney moved to a club with two full 18-hole courses.*

  4. If you can’t find another venue and/or have built a nice relationship with a specific venue, see if you can talk with them about either doing an afternoon + evening event or making it a two-day event to bring in more crowds.

  5. Add other opportunities for guests to engage/donate during the dinner, like paddle-ups or silent auctions.

  6. If you’re running a golf tournament, add mini competitions (Hole-in-one, Mulligans, Longest Drive, Putting Contest, Gimme’s, etc.) that guests pay to enter for prizes you hand out during the post-event dinner.

  7. If you’re running a larger festival-type event, find ways to incorporate other events within the main event. For example, this year is For Kids’ Sake’s 1st Annual Celebration of Life Festival. There’s going to be an entry fee for the festival, but there’s also going to be a 5K race, parade, BBQ competition, fireworks show, and more—all with different entry fees and sponsorship opportunities.

  8. Put aside a handful of tickets to the event and introduce a lottery-style waitlist that people can enter via donation. *Dan and his team first inadvertently did this for the golf tournament after selling out too quickly. They had a lot of frustrated recurring participants who couldn’t get in. So, they asked the course if they could do a morning AND afternoon event. The course agreed, and that opened some more spots. They then created a lottery-style (by donation) waitlist for the second round, and it worked great!*


On Hosting Dinners People Are Excited to Attend After Golfing All Day [7 Tips]

  1. Include food in the price. You need to give a little to get a lot—showing gratitude to all supporters goes a LONG WAY. *For Dan and his team, in past years, this meant lunch and dinner. They have also included alcoholic beverages (thanks to sponsors in that industry). This year, they plan to include breakfast, lunch, afternoon hors d'oeuvres, and dinner to shake things up.*

  2. Add a silent auction with mobile bidding—so guests get text alerts when someone outbids them; it’s way easier to up your bid from a link texted to your phone than it is to hover around paper bid sheets throughout the evening. Plus, it makes closing out the auction and collecting payments extremely simple.

  3. Invite special guest speakers—they help drive home how important everyone’s support is to the cause they cared enough to show up for.

  4. Set up an award ceremony, where you announce and present awards and/or prizes to winners of the mini competitions from earlier, + you acknowledge outstanding sponsors who have gone “above and beyond” supporting the event and cause.

  5. Recognize Milestones based on donation amounts that repeat sponsors and individuals have given over the years. *N.B. Kenney handed out different awards to supporters who donated $5,000, $10,000, $15,000, and so on; when some people saw others receive this recognition, it made them eager to give more the following year.*

  6. Highlight networking and mingling opportunities. Although this tidbit may be more in line with nonprofits that have already built up their “sponsorship game,” it will draw in everyone regardless of your event size—as long as you take the necessary steps to make sure you’re putting on a friendly, supporter-centered charity event! People love to connect with others who care about what they also care about.

  7. Ask sponsors to cover meals and beverages throughout the event/day. It is a great way to get people to want to stick around for the entirety of an event!


On More Sponsorship Advice, From Creating Packages to Setting Prices

Watch the recording of the Top Sponsorship Tips: Raise More in No Time webinar. Keep watching through the Q&A at the end. Live attendees overwhelmingly reached out, saying how so much of Dan’s advice was eye-opening and game-changing for their nonprofit fundraising.

Gain access to the recording here, and feel free to share it with your team:


Watch now: Top Sponsorship Tips Webinar


Raise Engagement and Revenue Using FrontStream Now

Whether you’re interested in learning more about sponsorships, payroll giving, and fundraisers with corporate partners—and/or our all-in-one event and donor + volunteer engagement tools + integrated ticket sales—we have the software to back you up! Feel free to reach out to one of our fundraising experts today to see if FrontStream is a good fit for your future fundraising goals.


Schedule a demo with an expert today!


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