Tips on Creating a Value for Your Sponsorship Proposal

By Matt Farrell//USA Swimming Chief Marketing Officer

Determining the value of a sponsorship proposal can be like asking, “How long is a piece of string?” It depends on so many factors that it is difficult to give a straight answer. However, any good proposal is grounded in reality and has some science behind the art. The example below is an overly-simplified approach whether your proposed deal is a $5,000 or $500,000 sponsorship. We are going to focus the example below on a local, youth sports team.

At its core, it is a simple formula for success:

Assets + “X Factor” = Value

Background Assumptions: Sunbird Swim Team (fictitious team) has been in a tourist area community for 40 years with an established track record of success. It does not own its own facility using the local community center for its practices and meets and they occasionally host major events such as state & zone championships. It is one of three swim clubs within a one-hour drive of the surrounding area.

Part 1: Assets
To determine the value of your sponsor assets, we will break this down into three simple steps:

1. Create an inventory of your promotional assets: This focuses on the most common assets for any club. Assets could also include things like event t-shirts, signage at meet hospitality, promotional giveaways, public address announcements, etc. This could really grow if the event was also webcast.



USA Swimming rules also allow for sponsor recognition on swim suits and swim caps. This concept was made most famous by Chico’s Bail Bonds, but for obvious reasons you could consider many different sponsor categories!

Bad News Bears

2. Estimate the Exposure of the Assets: This is simply quantifying how many people are going to see your sponsor’s name, ad or logo in a legible way. This number is also known as impressions. This number is relatively easy to determine. You likely already know the approximate attendance at your events, how many heat sheets you distribute and your web site provider can provide statistics on Internet traffic.

Assets plus impressions

3. Designate a Value to the Assets: A simple formula below can give you a guide on how to value assets. With any sponsor proposal, value is in the eye of the beholder, but this can provide “back-up” so your justification is defensible if the sponsor has questions. They may find more or less value in your estimates, but I take that as a good sign that you are now at the negotiating table and engaged in the conversation.

Assets Impressions Value

Part 2: X Factor
The “X” Factor is one of the most critical pieces and creates added value to the proposal. This requires taking intangible factors into account that help raise the value of the proposal.

My personal philosophy is that we should position and sell the sport of swimming more on a “quality vs. quantity” basis. That philosophy doesn’t negate the information above as every proposal needs to be grounded in reality. However, the X Factor comes into the brand and prestige of the team, the sport and the event vs. the number of people we reach. Swimming’s X Factors include:

• Attractive demographic of the swimming household
• High character of members of the swimming community
• Loyalty of swimming families
• Value of the USA Swimming brand and how you tie-in to national campaigns
• Ability to track the Return on Investment of the sponsor’s investment (ex. Coupon, tracking sales leads)

Each of these X Factors could, and will be, a topic for a future blog, so I will keep them high-level for the time being.

The Bottom Line
The proposal above could now be pitched at anywhere from $5,000 - $10,000 in my opinion. You have to determine the value of your X Factor. And, you also have to be able to judge the funding capacity of your potential sponsor.

Selling sponsorships can be as complicated as you want to make it. But following some simple guidelines can make your “due diligence” a less intimidating task. You are competing against every other youth team, church group and community organization out there for dollars, so the more professional and thoughtful you are in your proposal, the better your chances of success. Good luck selling!

Send any questions to Matt Farrell also writes a blog at for other tips on marketing, sponsorship and careers.  

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