Editor's note: This month we are looking into the important role of sponsorships in supporting many aspects of equine business. Whether you are an individual competitor, the manager of a horse show or event, or the director or owner of a non-profit equine therapy facility, sponsorships can sometimes make the difference in the bottom line being black or red. In this series, we'll talk about why to seek sponsorships, types of sponsorships, "feeding and care" of sponsors, and articles on sponsoring different types of events and facilities.
Are there things you would like to do as an individual competitor, a show or event organizer, or the owner/manager of a non-profit equine facility but you just don't have the resources? Your solution might be in partnering with industry to allow them to help you do what you do while at the same time marketing the company's goods or services.
Sponsorships are vital to supporting a wide variety of equine activities, large and small. The cash value is the most obvious reason that facility and event managers pursue sponsorships. These relationships with other businesses generate cash flow that can support upgrades at therapeutic facilities, control costs for shows or clinics and provide opportunities to award more substantial prize offerings.
Monetary sponsorships are important, but a strategic sponsorship agreement can offer even greater benefits. One example is media coverage. A sponsoring company with an established brand might agree to promote a facility or an event as part of a sponsorship package. Increased visibility in the local, regional or national community drives increased participation in competitions and clinics. For charitable organizations and therapeutic riding centers, the media attention can attract the attention of potential new donors.
In-kind sponsorships are another form of support. These agreements provide a tangible item in exchange for recognition as a sponsor. These items could range from food and beverage at an event to tack, feed, grooming supplies and more.
The biggest hurdle to seeking sponsorships is having the confidence to start the conversation.
“Don't be afraid to ask,” said Laura Smith, the chief executive office and co-founder of Youth Equestrian Development Association. “You will be surprised by what companies and individuals are willing to do if they believe in your organization and mission.”
Cultivating new sponsors takes time and follow up. During discussions about sponsorships, you’ll have to be prepared to “sell” your organization and talk about the benefits the sponsor will receive in return for his/her/its support.
“Don’t be afraid to ask people who might be outside your circle,” said Jane Moulton, treasurer for the Eastern Mountain Ranch Horse Association. “At the same time, show them what they will get in return.”
Securing sponsorships are a lot of work, but the benefits can be substantial.