Getting sponsors can be a challenge for many organizers. Generally, when you’re approaching a potential sponsor, you'll need to explain what a TEDx event is, excite them about the opportunity, and convince them it's worth their while.
How to reach out to sponsors
The “who” and “how” are two important things to keep in mind when it comes to reaching out to sponsors.
Find the right contact (and timing)
You’ll want to contact the right person (or persons) at the company, someone who can make decisions about sponsorships. (You can usually find this on the “about” or “contact” page of their website.) If you’re still not sure, check with someone in their administrative department.
Another thing to consider is timing. Some potential sponsors will already be familiar with TEDx and the TED brand, and others will have never heard of it before. So timing your approach should differ depending on how familiar the sponsor is. Many TEDx organizers have a staged approach that includes a letter, followed by a one-page project brief, followed by a phone call, followed by an in-person presentation of slides or a portfolio, ending with follow up phone calls and detailed discussions. The companies who are more familiar with TED may require less effort.
Either way, you’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to reach out to sponsors.
Send a letter
Here’s a sample letter you can customize and use when reaching out to potential sponsors:
Dear [sponsor contact],
My name is [your name] and I'll be organizing an independent TEDx event in [location] on [date].
TED is an annual event that brings together the world's leading thinkers and doers to share ideas that matter in any discipline — technology, entertainment, design, science, humanities, business, development. The talks at the conference, called TED Talks, are then made available to watch for free on TED.com.
In the spirit of "ideas worth spreading," TED has created TEDx, a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience.
At a TEDx event, TED Talks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connections. Our TEDx event is not organized by TED Conferences, but is operated under a license from TED.
We're excited to be a TEDx licensee and are reaching out to a select group of companies that are committed to the power of ideas to support our TEDx event. We felt [sponsor] would add to the unique atmosphere. We are looking forward to discussing ways in which [sponsor] could help underwrite and add to this incredible new experience.
We look forward to discussing further.
What to communicate
Once you’ve made contact with your potential sponsor, it’s important to know the “what” — that is, what you want to communicate.
What to say
TED and TEDx speakers tackle humanity's toughest questions, attempting to answer them with innovation, enterprise and enduring optimism. Explain that your TEDx event is a place in your/their community that inspires people to change their lives, futures and, ultimately, the world.
If you’ve hosted a TEDx event before, look for stories that demonstrate how people have been positively affected by your TEDx event, whose lives have been made better by access to a broad spectrum of ideas. If you haven’t, look to the broader TEDx community to show them examples of what’s possible.
Talk to them about the community you’re engaging, and why they’re a remarkable group — open-minded, curious, intelligent and hungry to learn.
Get creative with communicating your vision for the event, the theme you’ve selected, and any speakers you’ve already nailed down or are planning to recruit. Equally important is communicating the anticipated benefits for the company. These may include:
- A chance to launch a new product
- Networking opportunities
- Showcasing a project
- Entertainment and marketing to guests
Create sponsorship packages
It’s incredibly useful for sponsors to see a detailed plan of what the sponsorship might look like, including the value and what they will get out of partnering with your TEDx event. This sponsor package can include:
- A summarized history of TED and TEDx
- An overview of your TEDx event, including theme, speakers and audience
- Tiers of sponsorship for different amounts (TEDx events will have $100, $500, and $1,000+ sponsorship tiers)
- A detailed budget showing where exactly their money will go
- A section of in-kind contribution for sponsors who can’t contribute money (photography, food, t-shirts, printing, and gift bag items)
Next: Relationship management
Rules to remember
- Don’t approach sponsors at TED conferences.
- You can’t offer your sponsors product advertisements or long-form presentations.
- Your sponsors can’t have editorial control over your event or creative direction.
- Your sponsors don’t have the right to dictate who appears on your stage or who attends your event.