The following information has been prepared by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) for its member state associations and their local schools to provide a practical online resource to develop and execute important sponsorship programs. The need for this online tool is significant given the ever increasing number of organizations attempting to secure sponsor revenue. Given that every school’s sponsorship requirements will be unique to varying degrees, this step by step process will serve as a relevant guide for local schools or districts in planning their own sponsorship plan


Step 1: Sponsor Program Assessment

Determine the individual(s) responsible for developing and executing your School or District sponsorship program.

Determine any existing School or District sponsor relationships/agreements and detail responsibilities under existing sponsor agreements.

Determine any potential sponsor industry segments inconsistent with School or District policies and philosophy. Examples, alcohol, tobacco, gaming.

Determine any School or District policies that may impact your sponsorship program and identify any required senior administration approval(s). If approvals are necessary, engage senior management in your sponsorship program planning process at an early stage and understand the timing and information requirements of the approval process.

Determine level of commitment for your sponsorship program from senior administration, student and parent groups and other key stakeholders relevant to your School or District. Keep in mind that individuals and groups are more likely to be involved in ensuring your sponsorship program success if they are involved in your planning process.

Determine a realistic financial goal for your sponsorship program influenced by identified need(s), the value of your sponsor assets (Step4) and the competitive environment in your marketplace.


Step 2: Establish Sponsorship Program Management Team

Identify the best people available with knowledge of your School or District combined with an enthusiastic commitment to lead your sponsorship program plan development and execution. Ideally a Director, Manager, Financial, Marketing and Administration resource to be involved.

Ensure that there is a written summary of all meetings distributed to all members including assignment of responsibilities with completion timeframes.

Management Team to develop your realistic sponsorship program timeline from start to program success. Be sure to include key steps such as plan development, necessary approvals, sponsor asset development and valuation, sponsor structure, sales package development, sales process, sponsor management and sponsor rights and benefits delivery.


Step 3: Establish Advisory Board

Determine the size and make-up of your sponsorship Program Advisory Board and suggestion is four to eight people in total. Groups to be represented include School or District senior administration, parent group with connections to the private sector, student group, local media, School or District athletic administrators and sponsorship management team.

Secure an Honorary Chairperson for your sponsorship program if a suitable well known, respected individual is available and prepared to be involved with your initiatives, a great credibility benefit.


Step 4: Sponsor Assets, Valuation & Sponsor Structure

One of your most difficult tasks but probably the single most important one in the eventual success of your sponsorship program. The goal is to strike a balance between the value of your sponsor assets and the return on investment assessment that potential sponsors might perform on your sponsor opportunity. The closer these two assessments match the better. The challenge is that you determine one half of this assessment. Sponsor assets that are undervalued results in minimizing financial returns to your School and or District. Sponsor assets that are overvalued results greatly diminishing your sponsor sales success.

Determine the complete list of approved sponsor exposure, rights and benefits opportunities available at your School or District. See template listing.

Determine the number of sponsor categories that will constitute your sponsorship structure. Typically, there would be three categories within your structure. You can name these categories or levels based on your unique School or District environment but by prime example, Presenting Sponsor, Major Sponsor and Official Supplier. It is also recommended that you have a maximum number of sponsors at each level to avoid sponsor clutter and provide some sense of sponsors being part of a smaller sponsor group.

Allocate your sponsor assets to each of your sponsor categories or levels making sure there are assets that only accrue to each level, all at the highest level, fewer but still significant at the middle level and fewer again and less significant at the lowest level within your structure.

Develop the critical mass numbers associated with your School or District. Include student enrolment, number of student athletes, parents, school staff, coaches, website hits and spectators at sporting and other events.

Assign a dollar value to each of your sponsor category levels. This value will be determined by your total financial goal balanced against the current value of your specific marketplace. Obtain as much information as possible on your marketplace, sponsor revenues amature teen msnwith similar sized sponsor properties in your area.


School or District Financial Goal - $30,000 Annually

Presenting Sponsors 2 at $ 10,000
Major Sponsors 2 at $ 5,000
Official Suppliers 5 at $ 2,000

It is recommended that your rights and benefits cost include the printing costs for any banners that are included in your list of rights and benefits. This will allow for a more inclusive cost to the sponsor and also allow you to maintain the desired consistency in banner sizing and materials.


Step 5: Sponsor Packages

It is important that the packages you present and distribute to potential sponsors be precise and professional. Standing out from the many other sponsorship proposals on a busy decision maker’s desk is the goal. The sponsorship template,contained below will assist with this requirement.


Step 6: Sponsor Targets

Develop a complete list of companies and organizations active in your area and with your School or District. Include national companies and organizations with offices in your area, large, medium and small local or regional companies and organizations and local and regional media outlets. It is important to highlight those companies that are currently selling goods and services to your School or District as these sponsor targets have a business incentive to seriously consider your approach.

Segment your final target list by your sponsorship categories.


Step 7: Sponsor Sales

Focus the initial sales effort on those companies and organizations targeted for your highest level of sponsorship rights & benefits and schedule personal meetings with the most senior person(s) responsible for sponsorships, marketing and advertising or community relations.

Always provide the target with one sponsorship level option. Providing all your sponsorship options at one time will allow sales targets to gravitate to your least expensive option. Display confidence in your sponsorship property value and communicate that company Y is consistent with the sponsorship level being presented. You will possibly have the option later to re-approach a company at a lower sponsorship level once your sponsorship structure is populated at the higher levels.

Letters can be sent to lower level targets with follow-up phone calls made within one week of mailing to discuss and if necessary schedule a personal meeting.

Develop and maintain a complete sales effort chart including target, sponsor level, sales person responsibility, and on-going status, and review this chart on a regular basis.

Many sponsor companies or organizations will ask if the sponsorship rights and benefits fee can be fully or partially paid with in-kind, product or service, instead of cash. In-kind should be considered only when its value represents a reduction in a defined operating expense(s) for your School or District.

Do not be discouraged with the “no” answer from a targeted company or organization. Sometimes a NO is that target’s first position, and the possibility always exists in re-approaching that target to discuss reasons for its initial position.


Step 8: Sponsor Management

Once a positive response is received from a sponsor a Draft version of your sponsor agreement should be sent for review and approval by that sponsor within one week of your receiving the YES answer. Once approved, two unsigned copies of the agreement are sent to the primary sponsor contact for sponsor signature(s) and return to your organization for signature(s) and return of one final executed agreement to the primary sponsor contact. One week later send the sponsor their rights and benefits fee invoice.

Maintain a chart of all your sponsor agreements by sponsor, rights and benefits amount, annual invoicing status, agreement expiry date and person responsible for management of that sponsor.

It is essential that your organization be proactive in two keys management areas related to your sponsors. First, be proactive in the delivery of rights and benefits to your sponsors. Secondly, be proactive in encouraging your sponsor to develop and with your assistance execute leveraging programs in conjunction with their sponsorship. Leveraging programs are sponsor activities in association with your organization that are beyond the sponsor rights and benefits and are at the sponsor’s incremental cost above their rights and benefits fee. Examples would be producing and distributing a sponsor coupon at your major sporting events, product display and or samples distribution at your events, establishing a sponsor student athlete scholarship program or a sponsor sportsmanship awards program.

View your sponsorship program and your sponsors as business partners. Being proactive and professional in managing and working with your partners will ensure a higher rate of sponsor agreement renewals and enhance the continuity of your sponsorship program.

Prepare annual sponsor reports for all your sponsors that summarize the rights and benefits delivered to the sponsor that year and include samples of your printed materials that contained that sponsor's logo or identification and a few pictures of your events showing sponsor banners etc. Ideally these annual reports are presented in person to your sponsors and this meeting also provides the opportunity to review your relationship to date and discuss sponsor plans for the following school year.

The Best of Success!