Sponsorship

Sponsors might not be absolutely required to make a conference successful, but they sure do help. A lot. Having sponsors allows you to rent a space if needed, lets you provide honorariums to speakers, and provide refreshments for your attendees. Sponsorships can range from and include prize donations, cash, t-shirt sponsorship, web site hosting, and general swag.

Sponsorship categories

  1. Cash
  2. Prizes
  3. Swag

Cash

The best form of sponsorship is also often the toughest to get. Cash lets you rent a space if needed, pay for refreshments, provide financial assistance to speakers, and purchase miscellaneous supplies.

Prizes

Everyone loves to get a prize, right? Many companies may not be willing or able to donate cash for your cause, but they will donate items for prizes. Book publishing houses love to donate books as prizes.

Prize ideas:

  • Tech books, especially those related to a focus language of your group
  • Software licenses, especially IDE licenses
  • T-shirts; oftentimes cash sponsors will provide some t-shirts as well
  • Gadgets, such as Raspberry Pis

Swag

Just like prizes, everyone loves to get swag. This can be a time-consuming process, for if you want to provide a swagbag, it needs to have more than one or two items in it. Many companies have swag laying around in boxes that is left over from larger national conferences and they are wanting to get rid of it; don’t be afraid to ask.

Swag ideas:

  • Stickers
  • Pens
  • Coffee mugs
  • Shot glasses
  • Software/service discount codes
  • Brochures
  • Did I mention stickers?

How to get sponsors

So just how do you get sponsors for your conference? A lot of networking, relationship building, cold emailing, and maybe a phone call or two.

Networking

Networking is key to getting sponsors. Utilize any and all contacts that you and your group might have. If your conference planning group is part of a Python User Group, tap into that pool of people; they may know people who could be potential sponsors, or they could be potential sponsors themselves! Been to any professional conferences lately (PyCon)? Take a look at the sponsors there and see if any of those companies offer products or services that would be of interest to your attendees. Sponsors aren’t just going to throw money around to any and every conference they get hit up for, and they get hit up for a lot. Their product or service needs to be something that could be of interest and usable for your attendees; after all, sponsors are in business to make money.

Emailing