Last Updated on January 25, 2023 by Mark Norman
Sponsors can add an important revenue stream to your festival that helps to keep it open year after year so this article looks at some of the ways you could increase potential opportunities for your event.
Firstly, it’s worth mentioning that sponsorship doesn’t fit all festivals and events and you should carefully consider how it might impact or be perceived by all of your stakeholders.
Be sure to provide a website or pdf document that has all of your sponsorship offers and information about your event such as footfall, ticket sales, media coverage, number of programmes or any other economic data that you may have. Sponsors will use this to help make a decision about partnering with you.
Try to see this from the sponsors perspective. What value will they get for their business from partnering with you. Sometimes that is exposure, production distribution or customer information.
Yes, there are the usual sponsorship of marketing materials and programmes, which are all very important. But in this post, we wanted to look at some different ways you could offer sponsorship opportunities at your next festival or event. Also remember that not all sponsorships involve the transfer of money. Some arrangements can be “quid pro quo” if the agreement offers value for both sides.
Festival Sponsorship idea #1 – Patreon
So this is a quirky idea and not strictly sponsorship (certainly in the traditional sense) but Patreon does allow for creators of festivals to offer tiered support prices. If you’re not familiar with Patreon, it is an online service where members give money to support projects that they feel connected to.
If you already have a community for your festival or event this might be a route for you to tap into some of the goodwill that you have built up to enable future funding for your event.
Patreon works by allowing you to set different levels that people contribute to. This can be as little as a few pounds per month upwards and for every tier you offer something in return. Contributors generally sign up to give a certain amount on a monthly basis.
Those contributors then receive something in return, which could be as little as a thank you through to a ticket for your event, a festival t-shirt or right up to something like VIP access to the artists who are performing.
There is a fee for using the service, but this avenue may be really useful for smaller, cultural, arts or community events that have largely social outcomes where you can tap into the goodwill of your local community. For example the Sheffield Adventure Film Festival (ShAFF) has four tiers that allows supporters to help fund/sponsor the Festival.
Festival Sponsorship idea #2 – App Sponsorship
Many festivals now produce their own apps for smartphones that allow attendees to navigate and customise their experience. Perhaps you already have one and can offer this. If you don’t already have an app, it can give a valuable opportunity to connect with your audience before and during the event.
Using an app, festival experiences can be customised and live feedback captured in real time. For any potential sponsor, access like this to your audience is hugely valuable, enough to perhaps contribute towards the cost of producing the app. Apps like Eventee offer the ability to monitor and manage all of the information.
Consider approaching local technology firms who specialise in producing apps to see if they would consider partnering with you. This may lead to them producing the app for a discounted price or for free in exchange for sponsorship.
You should prioritise the privacy of users on the app and limited the amount of data that you collect to only what you need. This should be as transparent as possible to ensure you have the confidence of the attendees who will use the app as any data breach could damage the reputation of your event and any future sponsorship partnerships.
Festival Sponsorship idea #3 – Sponsored Live Stream
This idea will largely depend on if you can identify elements of your event that can be broadcast. Music and performances are great as they tend to be continuous throughout the event. Don’t discount demonstrations, live circus or talks as well.
While the concept of live steaming your event on Youtube or Facebook Live may seem daunting, there are companies that can help with the technology and this medium offers the ideal opportunity to add some value to any potential sponsor.
Live streaming has the power to reach a much wider audience than just those who attend your event in person, plus there is a huge opportunity for the footage to be reused and reshared on social media. All of this provide potentially huge value for a sponsor.
Festival Sponsorship idea #4: – Fitness and Wellness Sessions
Ok, ok it might not be the first thing that come to mind where you’re at a music festival but there are certainly many events and festivals that might lend themselves towards some “get up and go” fitness activities. There are some great examples of fitness and wellness festivals appearing in the United Kingdom such as the Wilderness Festival, The Big Retreat or Soul Circus.
Any festivals that celebrate food, nutrition or sport could offer sponsorship opportunities to sports clubs, gyms or salient food and nutritional products.
Even if your festival doesn’t fit into any of these categories, running wellness sessions could still add value for your attendees. The Love Fit Festival in Kent combines partying, fitness and well-being!
Festival Sponsorship idea #5: – Sponsored Phone charging stations
You need and want your attendees to interact with you, so keeping their phones topped up with power is a top priority. There are numerous companies who can supply phone charging lockers and potential activation points through vinyl wraps.
Offering this to a sponsor will be of value as there is likely to be a higher dwell time and so more opportunities for the sponsor to interact with you attendees.
Also consider an option that allows your attendees to book a takeaway charger (power bank) so they won’t miss any of the action if their phone run low on power. Companies like Charged Up offer apps that allow your attendees to locate and self-manage access to power banks
Festival Sponsorship idea #6: – Sponsored ‘play area’
While your attendees may spend a lot of time online at your event sharing their experiences, what about creating an offline play zone with classic or large games like chess, Scalextric or Jenga to them some respite from the online world.
There are numerous companies who are able to supply these games and you could consider placing a sponsor’s brand on some of the game pieces, which will then make it into people’s social timelines through photos?
Taking this idea a step further you could have a sponsored leader board for specific games like Batak or a cash cube for some more competitive fun!
Festival Sponsorship idea #7 – Free Wifi
Providing strong public WiFi is often a challenge when you have a high number of simultaneous users and you can expect to pay a high cost to install a temporary WiFi system. Being able to offer free WIFI to your end users would be a higher valued asset for you and a potential sponsor, particularly if you have a bespoke app for attendees that needs a good data connection to function.
Very often the system will allow any registration page to be branded to your event and sponsor. If you have an event with high footfall, this opportunity could be very lucrative.
Festival Sponsorship idea #8: – Sponsored craft area
This idea taps into your attendees’s craftiness! They are highly likely to share their creation on their social network of choice so consider how any potential sponsor could add and derive value from this.
This could take the form of the sponsor providing something that the attendees must then decorate or providing a photo frame for that final completed shot. With a move to more sustainability there could be numerous opportunities for attendees to use upcycling as part of this activity. Try to avoid using cheap decorative materials that contain micro plastics such as glitter.
Festival Sponsorship idea #9 – Naming Rights
If it suits the objectives of your event, then consider offering some sort of naming sponsorship deal. If you have highly social outcomes or objectives it may not be appropriate to use this. If you have a more commercial focus, then it may be appropriate.
The amount you can charge will largely depend on the number of people attending, the profile of any acts and your social media reach.
You should also consider how salient the brand is with your event. You’ll want to avoid upsetting regular attendees or stakeholder of the event by bringing in a sponsor who is seen to be a competitor to other trades appearing at your event. For example, imagine brining in a supermarket to sponsor an independent food festival, obvious right?
Festival Sponsorship idea #10 – Artist announcements
Most festivals will at some point announce their line-up. Most of these announcements will take place on social media and often will garner quite a lot of interest particularly if you have an event that has been running for a number of years.
With this in mind consider if you integrate a sponsor’s logo or information into an artist announcement. This would work particularly well if you breakdown the announcement over several days or weeks therefore lengthening the opportunity for the sponsorship.
Festival Sponsorship idea #11: – Sponsored Photobooths
Photobooths are a very popular addition to many events in recent times, people seem to love dressing up and posing! Clearly you need to consider if it is appropriate to have a photo booth at your event but they’re great for bringing people together in a fun way and the photobooths themselves can be branded for your events and include any sponsors logo or information.
Photobooths usually have the option of either printing the photos or allowing users to post the photos directly onto their social media timeline. If the latter is true, this offers an opportunity for sponsorship to reach wider beyond your event as users share humorous content on their own timelines.
Festival Sponsorship idea #12: – Swag bags
Swag bags a great way to add value to your event attendees either as they arrive or leave your event. Sponsors could either contribute towards the cost of producing the bags which can be branded with their logo or they could contribute towards the contents of the bag.
One of the great things about this idea is that it has a guaranteed reach as everybody entering or leaving your events can be given a swag bag. People will typically then look at the contents in detail at a later time ensuring that the sponsors brand or product is directly viewed by them.
What to charge for Festival Sponsorship
It is possible to undervalue your sponsorship assets. Getting the pricing right of your sponsorship takes time and research to ensure that you are charging the correct rate for your event but also the correct rate that the sponsor is happy to pay and feels value. This last point should always be in your mind when considering your rate card. You should undertake market research for at least three competitor events to see and understand how and what they are charging for their sponsorship. You should do this methodically and then consider how this looks from the sponsors perspective. Remember that sponsorship is a business investment for them and they will want to see tangible outcomes and value before they’ll even consider meeting with you for less commit to sponsoring your event.