Fundraising and sponsorship

If you are applying for funding or sponsorship, companies or funding agencies will want to know about you and why they should support you

Start by making sure you’re clear about the difference between fundraising and sponsorship.

Fundraising is about raising money to pay for what you want to do. While that might deliver benefits that the funder supports, such as better opportunities for community sport, you’re defining the project.

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Sponsorship, on the other hand, is a partnership. Yes, you’re gaining a financial benefit, but you’re also under an obligation to deliver value to your sponsor by promoting their name within the local and/or rowing community. For this reason you need to be clear at the outset about what you can offer as well as what you want.


The specific grants in the Funding Sources section will mostly have forms that ask for any information they will be using to consider the application. For more general fundraising you should think about the following points:

Why do you need it?

An example might be that our Rowing Club has been expanding rapidly (give figures) and we now need to compete at the highest level or you are keen to attract new members. Investors like to think in terms of value for money. People don’t like to give their hard-earned money for purely altruistic reasons.

Use personal contacts

The most effective way of raising money is through personal contacts. You are much more likely to get money from someone who knows you than from a complete stranger. If you were going to do a sponsored run then a friend or family member will sponsor you. List your club’s greatest successes from the past five years for fundraising, competition and other events. This will provide credibility for your application.

Look around you

Look at local companies and see what you could offer them. For example, water companies may want the area cleaned up and might be able to offer incentives.

Remember the Bank Manager

If you go to the Bank Manager with a hard luck story and then ask for a loan you won’t be successful. The same applies to fundraising. People only invest in success, they won’t pour money into a bottomless pit.

…they won’t pour money into a bottomless pit.

How much to ask for?

Most applications tail off into a ‘any help you could give would be gratefully received’. This is partly because people are too embarrassed to ask for money. You can ask in a number of different ways:

  • Name a specific sum – ‘We are writing for a donation of £1,000 towards this work’.
  • Give a range of amounts – ‘We are aiming to get one donation of £5,000, three of £1,000 etc.’
  • Mention the total sum involved and how you intend to get it: ‘We are writing to you and ten other grant making trusts asking for a total of £20,000’. This shows roughly how much you want from each trust.
  • Quote other investors and sums already pledged – ‘Company X has already agreed a payment of £500 and we are asking for similar amounts from six other local companies’.
  • Produce a shopping list and highlight one that you think the donor would be interested in paying for. The idea is to give a range of prices that people can afford and gives companies something specific and relevant to fund.
  • If you have put forward a good application you shouldn’t be embarrassed to ask for money.


Take a targeted approach. For each potential sponsor, ask yourselves, ‘What does company X want or need to achieve and how can we help it achieve that objective?’ Not only will companies’ money be used more effectively, but the club will be more attractive to other companies. Keep thinking about profile and media coverage.

A company should be getting at least £1 of publicity for every £1 of sponsorship.

Read our guide to sponsorship and partnership marketing for further guidance on this area.


  • Start a press cutting file and demonstrate that you get coverage as a club.
  • Approach a company for advertising then give them necessary information on target audiences and events. Get them interested then draw them in. Show them how much publicity you get.
  • Keep an accurate record of who you have approached, the response, whether it just wasn’t the right time for the company or whether the club’s aims and objectives did not match the company’s.
  • Good sponsorship letters contain realistic, itemised targets and demonstrate the attraction and value to the sponsor. Bad sponsorship letters are vague, contain little to attract the sponsor and are not followed up by the originator.

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