Project Sponsor

Project Sponsor & How To Build A Standardized Process

What is a project sponsor and how to build a standardized sponsorship process? Let's get started with this article!

January 1, 2022

For every project or organization, a very urgent question arises: “How to find sponsors?” To get the right answer, you should clearly understand your goals, pursue which financial party is willing to provide support. As soon as this task is solved, you will be able to identify the area of potential partners whose interests will be satisfied through this project. In the article, you can find the answer to the question: “Who is your potential project sponsor?”.

Project Sponsor definition

A project sponsor is an individual or legal entity that promotes the implementation of a project to support and advertise certain goods, services, activities, or itself. The financier contributes free of charge to the budget of the organization in need. At the same time, there is no legal priority of the sponsor regarding this object.

Sometimes, sponsors can be confused with patrons. However, sponsorship is not intended to achieve direct commercial benefits, while the aim of the patron is to obtain certain benefits. In some countries, the economic contribution of companies to social organizations represents a reduction in taxes and is determined by the form of sponsorship.

Project Sponsor
Project Sponsor


The roles of the Project Sponsor in project management

So what does a project sponsor do?. Here are typical sponsorship roles:

  • Help the public get acquainted with the company’s new products, image, and brand of an organization/project.
  • Build and enhance the understanding of the project, public sentiment about the organization’s activities, attract the mass media.
  • Sponsorship shows the goodwill of the project and the project towards social activities.
  • Create positive effects for the public and consumers, especially target customers through programs sponsored by the project.
  • Sponsorship helps to increase the popularity of the target audience, thereby gaining respect and support over other competitors.

Difference between project sponsor vs project manager

Managing a project on a day-to-day basis is the responsibility of project managers, while project sponsors provide the resources necessary to complete the project.

You can read about What is a project manager to understand more about this position.

The responsibilities of the Project Sponsor

During or before the start of the project, the sponsor:

  • Participate in the development of the business case for the project
  • Help define measurable project goals
  • Support or defend the project, especially while the project is being incorporated
  • Support as a projected voice or spokesperson for those unaware of the project, including upper management
  • Provide project budget
  • Provide high-level requirements
  • Provide information regarding the initial scope of the project
  • Can include milestones, key events, or project completion dates (together with the client)
  • Provide information to help develop project charter (project charter)
  • Guide the process to get the project approved and formalized, supported by the Project Manager when needed

During project planning, the responsibility of project sponsor is:

  • Work Breakdown Structure can be reviewed
  • Risk identification
  • Identify the reports required for management to monitor the project
  • Provide expert reviews
  • Help assess trade-offs/options in progress compression by crashing, fast-tracking, or re-evaluating
  • Final project management plan approval

During project implementation and project monitoring and control, the sponsor:

  • Protect the project from external influences and changes
  • Provide expert reviews
  • Help assess trade-offs/options in progress compression by crashing, fast-tracking, or re-evaluating
  • Resolve conflicts beyond the control of the Project Manager
  • Can direct that a quality assessment be performed

At the end of the project, the sponsor:

  • Provide formal acceptance of deliverables (if they are customers)
  • Enable efficient delivery and integration of deliverables to customers
  • Support to collect historical records, lessons learned from the project

Where is the Sponsor?

For certain projects, it seems that the project managers or leaders can not find suitable sponsors despite the fact that they have the potential to develop in the future. There are also some situations that the project manager is unable to know who the sponsor is.

The culprit behind that is the misunderstanding of the project manager, or even the sponsors, about the specific role of project sponsorship. Some projects or organizations do not even want to delegate project sponsorship. Furthermore, there is a fact that project leaders or managers hope that sponsors remain the status out of their way and do not interfere in the functions of the project. Those are the reasons why many projects, despite the potential for development, still cannot find sponsors.

Sponsors are practically everywhere. They can be:

  • Grassroots government
  • Enterprise
  • Government special funds
  • National and international NGOs
  • Foreign embassies
  • National and international donor funds
  • Religious, social, professional organizations and foundations charity
  • Media agencies
  • Individual

Things that project sponsors often look for

  • Active research

When you have information about a potential fund for a project, in addition to researching their information on their website, call, email, and ask for a report describing previous grants. This way you have an idea of ​​how much they are willing to fund and what types of organizations or ideas they are willing to support. Donors conduct assessments and make decisions based on specific criteria. Knowing how sponsors evaluate your offer will help improve your proposal and increase your chances of success.

  • Standardized sponsorship proposal

Writing a complete and complete project proposal is not an easy task, there are many sponsor questions that need to be answered, there is a lot of paperwork and data that needs to be delivered on time. Do not rush to fill out the questions on the pre-made application form. Follow the detailed step-by-step project analysis process here. This gives you a deep understanding of the area you want to address, the project’s beneficiaries, target audience, the activities you’ll carry out, as well as the goals and outcomes your project wants to achieve. The proposal should include:

  • Explanation of the problem to be solved by the proposed project
  • Brief description of the beneficiaries (both the target group of the project and the final beneficiaries) and the number of beneficiaries.
  • Objectives that the project wants to achieve
  • Outline of project activities
  • Brief information about the organization proposing this project, including previous experience with projects of this type
  • Communications
  • Names and professional experience of key members of the team that will carry out the project
  • Project duration and estimated cost

If your project is really interesting and fits their criteria, they can contact you to inquire further and request funding even if it is not in the funding process. Furthermore, if they are unable to fund immediately, they may schedule you at another suitable time.

  • Take the project seriously

Once the sponsor agrees to support your project, make sure that you strictly adhere to what was promised and written in the project proposal. In projects, the project implementers will not receive the money promised by the sponsor, or be required to refund if they do not do what they have written in the project. In addition, sponsors often know each other, you will not have the opportunity to continue to receive support for future projects if you disregard your commitments. Of course, you need to promptly notify the sponsors if there are unexpected circumstances that prevent the project from completing the target. This can help you and the sponsor work together to find solutions, such as revising project results, delaying project deadlines, etc.

Things that the sponsor often ask

There are things for the sponsors to ask the project team during the working process, or even from the start. The task of each project manager/leader is to understand the requirements of sponsors and prepare well.

Here are things that the sponsors often ask:

  • Whether the task-level plans are completed and fully reported?
  • How was the planning process done and at what stage?
  • Estimates based on valid information have been verified or not? What sources are they based on? Are the sources reputable? Do you need to launch research campaigns?
  • Are resources being allocated toward all tasks reasonable?
  • How are resources allocated in proportion?
  • What are the risk management strategies? Has it been calculated yet?
  • Can milestones be spread strategically during the whole project with measurable deliverables?
  • Are requirements prioritized and streamlined during the whole project reasonably?
  • Can the effective working relationship between the project manager and team members be guaranteed?
  • Are there any specific areas of concern regarding task sizes, scopes, risks, or dependencies that need to be reconsidered?
  • Does the project manager/ managers keep track of both mandated reporting and proactive reporting?
  • Are there organizational and cross-project factors that affect the development of the project?

Touch points between project sponsors and project managers

For each type of sponsor, project leaders/managers need to prepare different tactics to get touch points with them. As follows:

For government sponsors

  • Please contact people who have decision-making authority
  • Clearly define the time required to solve the problem
  • Set clear and specific problems that need support
  • Please suggest some solutions to the authorities

For corporate sponsors

  • Prepare specific ideas about objects, activities, ways of doing, result
  • Please contact the business owner or authorized representative directly
  • Clarify the results your business can deliver through sponsorship
  • Appointing staff with communication skills and skillful persuasion methods, reputable with businesses

For foreign organizations

  • Actively research the situation, conduct needs assessment surveys
  • Need a good design or at least a good project idea
  • Select organizations with the same operational priorities
  • The proposed project should use strategies and approaches that are of interest to the sponsor
  • Need to find a reputable person with a referral organization to approach

For religious organizations

  • Hold on to religious policy
  • Find out in advance about the religion you approach to have the right behavior
  • Prepare a specific list of people in difficulty who need to ask for help
  • Government representatives can be invited to join
  • Face-to-face meeting for advocacy

For charities, social organizations

  • Prepare a specific list of people who need to offer help
  • Find out the possibilities of donations from organizations and foundations
  • Clearly define what you need help (Money, in-kind, time….)
  • Need to approach through the introduction of a reputable person

For media sponsors

  • Reach the media that has the most influence on the potential funding groups you plan to reach
  • State the role of the media in disseminating humanitarian activities
  • Select media agencies that are suitable for those who need help, in line with the wishes of the donor
  • Prepare the messages that need to be communicated
  • Make sure the people you want to report have agreed to have their information published

For individual sponsors

  • Use a referrer who is a reputable relative, friend, or colleague with the person you intend to reach
  • Find out in advance which strengths and interests of individuals will approach
  • Prepare a checklist or information specific to the need for assistance and the ways in which individuals can contribute
  • Make it clear to them that their contribution is important
  • Specify the personal benefits that they get when they participate in the sponsorship

What do Project Managers look for?

Despite the fact that the majority of the responsibility in sponsorship relations depends on the sponsor, the project manager/leader still plays an important and indispensable role in it. To be more specific, the project manager/leaders should be clearly aware of the role of the sponsor and how sponsors can contribute to your project. It is the combination of the division of responsibility, identifying areas, and sufficient support for the general project. Therefore, leaders/managers need to pay attention to the following factors:

  • Funding ability (What are their strengths? What can they sponsor? How long is the funding period?…)
  • Priority (field of specialization, geographic region, networking…)
  • Hobbies (Participating in project management or simply getting results?…)
  • What benefits do they expect from sponsoring (branding, promotion, disbursement, co-management …)
  • Factors affecting funding decision-making (project characteristics, geographical location, etc.)

Read more about What is project management.

Sponsorship process

  • Build sponsorship package

Building funding packages should focus on return on investment and commercial benefits. Your proposal should essentially convince sponsors why your event is relevant and beneficial to the company.

  • Identify potential sponsors for your event

Observing similar events can help you develop a list of potential sponsors. Taking the time to build relationships with local PR representatives is also one of the best ways to find sponsorships for future projects.

Research potential companies that you think might be interested in sponsoring your project. Usually, potential sponsors are companies with large advertising budgets doing a lot of local advertising, wanting to maintain good relations with the community, companies trying to gain market share in a specific market, or new companies trying to establish their brand.

  •  Write a preliminary plan and contact sponsors

Often the best way to reach potential sponsors is to write a brief preliminary plan that highlights the key and the most impressive points. In addition, it is also important to understand the difference between sponsorship and donation.

  •  Reach sponsors

Go through the list of potential sponsors, find out who is responsible for the sponsorship. Follow up and suggest a meeting. During the preliminary meeting, find out what the company is looking for as they review funding opportunities. Be prepared to discuss sponsorship opportunities with them.

  • Negotiation and signing

Once you and your sponsor have identified the best packages to meet their needs, document them in more detail. Legal advice may be needed to ensure the contract is fair to both parties. A meeting with sponsors may be necessary before you agree on what you can offer and what they need for their marketing purposes.

  • Implementation and follow-up

After completing the project, be prepared to provide each of your sponsors with proof that you fulfilled your commitments. Make sure you send them a thank you letter.

Learning about the Sponsor – tips for Sponsorship

  • Sponsors are very busy

Donors are always asked for support by hundreds or even thousands of people/organizations, and they cannot fully pay attention to all of them. Be patient, don’t waste their time, keep emails short, dialogues to the point, have all the information available, and make it easy for donors to access. Don’t ask basic or vague questions that you can easily find answers to with a quick online search for donors. Relationship building is great, but first, you need to find out if your affiliate has the time and interest in it.

  • Sponsors have their own way

Typically, sponsors manage multiple grants at the same time and there is consistency in how grant applications are submitted, how accounts are held, and how they are monitored and evaluated. While a one-size-fits-all approach may not work for all projects, try to work within the sponsor’s confines as much as possible. Do your research on sponsors first and you’ll know what to expect from them.

  • Donors have their own concerns.

Donors may have to report to their government, tax authorities, accountants, board members, the public, etc. Because of that, many donors are very risk-averse. They often maintain feasibility survey requirements and set high reporting standards. While this can make donors look very bureaucratic and difficult to work with; It’s important to understand these steps and to try to be as honest and helpful as possible.

  • Sponsors are not the ATM

Don’t reach out to donors only when you need money. Long-term relationships are not built just by receiving checks. Sponsors have a lot of experience in overseeing completed projects, so they’ll likely have plenty of suggestions for you. Relationships should be mutually beneficial, so think about ways you can give information or support back to donors.

  • Sponsors care about results

Once a sponsor agrees to sponsor you, it means they are interested in your success. Use this opportunity to show the sponsor that with their support and your team, together, everyone can achieve the desired results. Once sponsors see a direct effect, they will begin to take an interest in your project.

  • Sponsors can’t read your mind

Although many donors are field experts, you should not conclude that all donors understand exactly the context in which your organization operates. Try to avoid using acronyms or jargon if you don’t know exactly who the project reader is and what their level of experience is in your field. Even for professionals, keep it simple, and hitting the right point is often appreciated.

The above article has provided you with basic information about the project sponsor as well as how to build up a standardized sponsorship procedure. We all hope that you can have a deeper knowledge of this field and have successful projects.

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