Bridge Sponsorship Can Help You Succeed
By Alex J. Coyne © 2018 Great Bridge Links
Are you planning a special bridge event? Does your little bridge club need extra support. Does your bridge team want to enter a competition that will require a bit of sponsorship help? Sponsorships can be the key to success for a program, team or bridge club.
Sometimes it’s space for a tournament being sponsored, other times it’s more practical equipment such as branded jackets, decks of cards or food. We thought we’d explore the world of bridge sponsorships and give some tips on how players, teams or clubs can go about obtaining sponsorship.
What is sponsorship
Sponsorship can come in a variety of forms. And it’s not always about cash! Many sponsors are more able to offer ‘in kind’ sponsorship – meaning they can supply the sponsoree with needed products or services. Does your team need a location to practice? Perhaps a local club can ‘sponsor’ your efforts by offering you free practice space. Does your club need new cards? Perhaps a local bridge supplier would sponsor through donation of cards, or even through a healthy discount. Are you planning a public event to promote your club or planning a special club game, unit game or tournament? Sponsors might be found who will supply your event with free water ( in branded bottles) or free coffee or free advertising, free printing for your posters, free graphic design, free online promotion. Do you want to have a ‘draw’ for your event? Local teachers might be willing to host a short ‘free’ seminiar prior to your event.
The key is this: businesses are always looking for ways to promote their products and services, and sponsoring is a ‘feel good’ way to do this. It’s win-win and every little bit helps.
How do I get started finding a sponsor?
1. Select a dedicated sponsorship person
Finding sponsors takes a bit of organization and time. If you’re a large enough group, it’s best if one person is given the job of obtaining and managing sponsorships.This way, too, possible sponsors will feel comfortable dealing with the same point person.
2. Make a list
Make a list of your needs and possible costs. Start small, and work up to your most expensive requirements. You will have best results when you have something specific to ask for. Sponsors are more prone to donate to something well-defined like hall rental or T-shirts than something general like ‘money for our tournament’.
Making this list will also help you as a group determine what you need. If you have printed flyers on your list, for example, then you now have a sponsorship idea – approach small printers in your area.
3. It’s all about the fit
If you are specific about what you need you can more easily pick the right sponsor. Don’t ask a company that specializes in making laptops to sponsor tablecloths, for example.
4. Details, details and details.
Tell the potential sponsor as much as you can about you, your team, your club and why you could use the sponsored materials. In fact, the best approach is to have something you can hand out to your sponsor, or email to them. A little background, some statistics, previous successes that sort of thing.
5. Be sure to know how you’re going to promote your sponsor
Sponsorship, for many small businesses, is a way for them to have their business name publicized. Be sure you have a good idea of what you’ll do for your sponsor and let them know. The small printer, for example. You can tell them you’ll put “This flyer sponsored by AAAJax Printing” on the flyer as well you’ll put their logo on the sponsor page of your website and/or you’ll have a Thank You sponsors banner at your event, and/or you can invite your sponsor to have promo material at your event etc etc.
6. Be sure to thank your sponsor
You might give out thank you cards, you might post a small ad in a local paper, you might do something on social media. Be sure to thank your sponsors. Many clubs use their official website to host a page listing their loyal sponsors and associates.
A Random List of Sponsorship Ideas
Ed O’Reilly cites a few ideas in his article Businesses gain from bridge sponsorships the Kingston Whig (2009) noting that businesses stand to benefit just as much from sponsoring vouchers or other items as prizes for bridge clubs – bringing in a lot of potential business from players.
Restaurant vouchers or specials – usually there’s a large group of people, between sessions of a bridge event, looking for somewhere to eat. Restaurants would do very well to offer some kind of sponsorship via vouchers or specials. Pick someone from your crew to go out and talk to local eateries.
Printing sponsors – as mention above, most small printers will welcome the exposure and possible support of your players by helping out with your flyers an other printed material
Local paper – community papers are always looking for news. If you send a ‘press release’ style of article advertising your event or promoting your bridge team, it will almost always be printed.
Senior services – it’s well known that the bulk of our bridge playing population is over 50. Many companies servicing this bubble of the population would welcome sponsorship inquiries – especially if you’re able to offer them some good exposure.
Youth programs – many sponsors are particularly interested in helping with youth programs. If you’re planning an event for youth, sponsorship might come from surprise sources. See if your city has a ‘community foundation’. Do you have a Credit Union in your town? They often have huge ‘community granting’ opportunities. As well, youth-focussed stores such as game stores, card stores, comic stores, would love the chance to let potentially new customers know about their products and services.
Added value for your event – invite local authors or teachers to present at your event. This gives the author or teacher an opportunity to promote themselves, and adds value to your event schedule. Or, if you’re a bridge group or team in search of sponsorship, look up bridge-related events in your area, phone the organizers, and offer to host a seminar, workshop, or talk. If you’re not comfortable teaching the game, you can discuss other aspects of your ‘journey’.
Patreon – some people achieve great success through patron platforms such as Patreon. There aren’t a lot of bridge players on Patreon (it’s more for the arts) but offering daily lessons and daily hand articles might be successful in obtaining individual patrons for a player needing sponsorship. https://www.patreon.com
And a final word from the editor Jude Goodwin
I can only speak for Canada here but my experience has taught me there’s a lot of money out there for Non-Profit organizations and even more for registered Charities (billions of dollars actually). If you are looking for funds for a club or group, consider filling out the forms and becoming an NFP. You are, after all, providing a fantastic service – to the citizens of your community, to the seniors (so good for their health), to the youth (get them away from their devices now and then). And if the paperwork seems daunting, hire someone to get it going for you –