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How to Get Sponsored

By Kristin Hamerski
Printed in Practical Homeschooling #60, 2004.

Strategies for getting sponsors for pageants and other competitions.
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Kristin Lee Hamerski

Sponsors are truly a blessing. In a world where practically every competition or event costs money, not to mention the costs of outfits, gear, and all other associated competition necessities, obtaining sponsors can truly be one of the keys to your success in competing. Sponsors can be important assets no matter what competition or activity you choose. Learning to obtain sponsors can truly be helpful throughout your whole life.

You could also obtain sponsors for local charities and for volunteer community service projects. And you never know, maybe you will want to run for office when you are of age, sponsors are definitely an advantage.

You would truly be surprised how many people and companies really want to help out people in their community. In many cases businesses may even have set aside funds for just the purpose of sponsorship. In addition, if sponsors recognize that you are truly sincere in achieving your goals and are actively trying to help them as well in whatever way you can, they may also continue sponsoring you.

Fundraising for Charity

"Hamerskis win 3rd place!" As we sat enjoying the great BBQ after the long 5K Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run we were excited to hear our names being called over the loud speaker. We had no idea there was a contest going on. It turns out that we came in third place (first for youth) in fundraising for Special Olympics Alaska!

Fundraising for charities and other events can be a lot of fun and a great learning experience.

First, we targeted a business that we knew had many Special Olympics supporters and contacted their office manager to see what they would allow us to do. We made up a flyer and sent it via email to notify everyone about what we were doing and when we would be coming in to the office. My brother, Eric, came dressed in his Special Olympics athlete uniform with his gold medal. Our friend and Special Olympic Athlete, Emily, and I, dressed professionally with my Miss Alaska banner, also stood ready to talk with people about Special Olympics. We had a mission: obtain sponsors for the Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run. With this goal in mind we politely asked people passing through the business lobby if we could have a minute of their time. We then explained what we were trying to do and how Special Olympics has played an important role in our lives. My brother and I handed each person the 2001 Special Olympics World Winter Games official book, We All Speak With the Same Smile. (This book has my essay in it, which inspired the book's title. To read my essay visit www.litsite.uaa.alaska.edu/akwrites/special/special4.html [unavailable])

In addition to the book, we had brochures about the Torch Run, as well as some eye-catching signs we made up on the computer. Wonderfully and amazingly my brother and I were able to raise over $800 in one lunch hour for Special Olympics. My brother and I both enjoyed this process of obtaining pledges for Special Olympics.

Pageant Sponsors

I've had many other wonderful experiences obtaining sponsors. Verna, the owner of Stephendales Bridal (www.stephendalesbridal.com [unavailable]) sponsored me (then Miss Alaska Teen American Coed 2003) for my national competition. She recognized my name from her file of past customers and was impressed that I took the initiative to call. To my astonishment and sheer delight we both picked out the most amazing gown, a light blue gown that very strikingly resembled that of Disney's Cinderella. This gown made me feel just like a princess and very ready to compete at my national competition. Not only was this the perfect dress for my national competition, but I also wore it when I made my most recent pageant win and became Miss Alaska National Senior Teen-Ager 2004! Verna not only provided me with a wonderful gown, dyed-to-match shoes, etc., but she also gave me an even greater gift. She gave me the gift of knowing that someone saw my determination and had faith in me!

Sponsors for Your Community Event

This past April my fellow Faith-Based and Community Initiatives Task Force members worked to obtain corporate sponsors for our first conference and the Stars of Gold awards banquet, which was a huge success. (See www.ltgov.state.ak.us/fbci/conference.php) As part of the conference planning committee, we talked to many people and businesses that we were familiar with, bringing along brochures outlining the various goals of the conference and the levels of sponsorship. We were fortunate to have the Salvation Army partner with us for the conference. They accepted the donations for the conference and helped attract other like-minded groups and individuals to contribute. Many people were very impressed with the conference and said they would like to contribute next year!

Sponsors for Trips and Missions

You do not have to be competing in a pageant or funding a large conference in order to obtain sponsors; you could be competing in a sports event, taking an educational trip, or participating in any other competition that has entrance fees or fees for items necessary to compete. Businesses like Costco and leadership scholarships through community groups such as 4-H often help out with these types of trips.

You may also find sponsors helpful if you plan to participate in a church mission trip. Beier's Auto is owned by a great Christian family in Anchorage and they have a world map in their lobby with pictures of several mission groups they support. There are many Christian businesses that would like to help and can be found in a local Christian directory or as members of your church. It's a matter of networking with individuals in your church community to find just the right sponsor, being well prepared, passionate, and persistent.

Sponsors for Your Church Programs

Another thing to consider is finding sponsors for church programs. For my church, the Anchorage Baptist Temple, I helped with Operation Christmas Child, which is an extension of evangelist, Franklin Graham's Samaritan's Purse.

How to Find Sponsors

When looking for potential sponsors, think first about the people you know. This always makes a good first step and will help you get used to explaining what you are doing, how others can help, etc. Teens and youths can look to family members, church family, friends of the family, as well as companies and businesses that they come in contact with frequently where they know and feel comfortable with the people working there. This could be your doctor, dentist, singing instructor, a local restaurant you frequent, etc.

It is imperative to remember, when a youth is looking for sponsors it must be the youth contacting the sponsor. This can of course be done with the assistance of a parent, but the youth should really be the one initiating the conversation. This shows that the youth is not only sincere about achieving his or her goals, but also that the youth is determined enough to take initiative in pursuing these goals. The key is to be comfortable explaining yourself and to truly have a desire to better yourself each time you talk with a potential sponsor. Once you feel a bit more comfortable and have practiced talking about your event with family and friends, feel free to call and make an appointment to talk with other businesses that you think might be able to help you.

Depending on the event you are looking to have sponsored, certain businesses could be especially helpful. In my case, since I compete in pageants, Stephendales Bridal was able to help sponsor me by giving me the perfect evening gown for competition.

When I was Miss Alaska Teen American Coed 2003, Alaska Airlines (www.alaskaair.com) even sponsored me by providing me with a complimentary air flight to my national competition from Anchorage, Alaska down to Orlando, Florida, which was their new air route and I helped advertise it for them! Their support and the support of so many others has made it possible for me to continue achieving my goals, not only in just the pageant competition, but through the competition, achieving scholarships to continue my education, truly a paramount goal!

Another example of this kind of sponsorship would be if you were competing in a sports competition and a sporting goods store sponsored you with sports equipment. Airline travel for missions trips is another example. Sponsors can of course also help you with competition fees, etc. In pageants, obtaining sponsors is especially important because you have so many costs: the entrance fee, pageant tickets (this could add up to a lot of money if you have a big family who wants to come cheer you on), required advertising, occasional extra fees for optional competitions, and the list goes on.

Selling Advertising to Sponsors

Talking with sponsors will help you hone valuable skills, such as explaining why you would like the sponsor to sponsor you, what you plan to do with the help they give you, and also how you might be able to help them. An example of this is advertising. Through pageants I have learned to sell advertising (this is often required for national pageant competitions and sometimes even on state levels). The main type of pageant advertising is through the National or State Program books. Other competitions besides pageants can have these types of program books as well.

Recognizing Your Sponsor

Advertising a sponsor does not have to stop with pageant or another competition's official advertising, though. You could list your sponsors on your business or calling card, always be sure to recommend them to friends, family, and others you meet, as well as looking for other opportunities to recognize their generosity and assistance in helping you achieve your goals. One opportunity that I found to additionally recognize my sponsors was through parades. As Miss Alaska Teen American Coed 2003 I participated in many parades around the state, The Veteran's Anchorage 4th of July Parade, The Bear Paw Parade, The Alaska State Fair Parade, etc. I was also privileged to be able to have a booth at our Alaska Elmendorf Air Force Base's Air Show (over 175,000 people in attendance). There I handed out free fans and balsa wood airplanes, which I had secured as a sponsorship from Fantasy of Flight (in Orlando, Florida). At parades or during events where I was fortunate to have a booth I had signs promoting my sponsors.

Finally, remember it is very important to thank your sponsors. You can do this by going in person, writing a nice letter, etc. I have always felt that a very nice way to say thank you is by giving the sponsor pictures of how they helped you. In my case, I used pictures of me in my beautiful pageant gown, and various photos of my national competition for thanking Stephendales Bridal.

How Looking for Sponsors Has Helped Me

I have found obtaining sponsors to be not only very helpful in assisting me monetarily, but also in giving me the valuable experience of practicing my communication skills and expressing myself to others in a clear, concise, articulate, and overall professional manner. Keep in mind that winning awards and competing in competitions are fun, and exhilarating, but remember they are just part of the overall picture. Life is more than competitions and winning awards. The truest prize you could ever gain is the knowledge that through every event in which you have participated you have bettered yourself, and, hopefully, others.

You must have faith in yourself and achieving your goals in order for others to have faith in you. Don't be afraid to talk to people about your goals, and whenever possible help others with their goals. Always maintain faith in God and faith in yourself and you will find it easy for others to have faith in you!

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