By Pat Kohan | The Art of Coaching Volleyball

You’re a few weeks into your club season and you realize your teams have qualified for more tournaments than expected, but you don’t have the funds to front the tournament fees. What can you do to generate the needed revenue without charging your players more?

Sell Sponsorships!

Don’t know the first thing about selling sponsorships? Well, here are 7 steps to guide you:

Step 1 – Define your audience and assets

Essentially, this first step is about taking inventory on the size of the audience you can deliver to a sponsor and what assets they can use to connect with that audience.

Your audience can be defined by calculating the number of players, parents and coaches who are in your club and the amount of people that will be exposed to your club throughout the year. These include opposing clubs, community members, your players’ peers, etc.

Finding the exact size of your audience is almost impossible, but listing statistics that include your club size, number of tournaments you participate in or run and any other community outreach events gives business owners a good ballpark figure.

Once you have provided that figure, you’ll need to list assets that a sponsor could use to connect with that audience. To start a good list of assets, ask yourself:

What would you be willing to put a sponsor’s logo on?

o On the wall of your facility o On your team’s jerseys, warm-up gear, backpackso Website

What could you give a sponsor the naming rights to?

o Tournaments (i.e. The Jamba Juice Jamboree)o Teams (i.e. State Farm Vipers 16 – 1)o Club (i.e. The Kent Kukamugas)

What type of online exposure could you give?

o Logo on your website o Email blasts to your members o Social media shout outs

Don’t stop with just these; be creative and list everything possible that could potentially add value to a sponsor.

Step 2 – Create your sponsorship packages

In Step 2, you want to organize everything you wrote down in Step 1 into packages that vary in marketing power. Start with an introductory level sponsorship for companies with smaller budgets, then progress into more expensive packages until you’ve created a good, better best package list.


o Logo on websiteo Logo in bi-weekly newsletterso Monthly Facebook posts or promotionso Sign on the wall in facility

  • GOLD

o Logo on websiteo Logo in bi-weekly newsletterso Monthly Facebook posts or promotionso Sign on the wall in facilityo Flyer handout to all parents in the club twice a year


o Website banner advertisemento Logo in bi-weekly newsletterso Monthly Facebook posts or promotionso Sign on the wall in facilityo Flyer handout to all parents in the club twice a year o Three email blasts to all parents about a promotion or service provided

Aside from the basic packages you just organized, brainstorm how you can build big-ticket items that sponsors may want to buy exclusive rights to. This could include a special photo contest, tournament naming rights or the rights to put a logo on every player’s jersey.

Quick tip: When creating your big-ticket items, make sure they give sponsors the opportunity to earn a return on their investment (ROI). This is the most overlooked element of youth sports sponsorships, and it needs to be a focal point of how your big-ticket items are set up.

Examples of ROI opportunities in big-ticket items:

Monthly social media photo contest sponsor

  • ROI – Each month club members can win a $25 gift card if they go to the sponsor’s establishment, buy a product, take a picture of themselves with it, then share it on their social media platforms. The person whose picture gets the most likes wins.

    Club hosted tournament-naming rights

    • Sponsor will receive naming rights to the Spring Classic Volleyball tournament, which attracts over 50 teams and over 1600 total attendees. As the title sponsor, you will have premium booth space to sell product throughout the tournament.

    As you can see, big-ticket items can create opportunities for the sponsor to earn a return through a contest or event sales.

    Step 3 – Price your packages

    Pricing your sponsorship packages is tough, and there isn’t really a formula to follow that will give you the exact value of what you have to offer. This means you have to do your homework to figure out a fair price that sponsors would be willing to pay.

    A great place to start is to calculate what it costs to service the sponsorship package. (For instance, cost of signs, embroidery, etc.) This way you can make sure you don’t lose money. From there, you can ask friends and business owners what they might be willing to pay and you can also talk with anyone else who has sold sponsorships in youth sports in your area to get an idea of what the market can bear.

    Step 4 – Create your materials

    This step is basically putting together a one-pager (front and back) that displays all the work you’ve already done.

    Your one-pager should include:

    • Overview of your club’s history and season outlook
    • Statistics on your club members and the audience your sponsors will be able to reach
    • Sponsorship offerings and pricing
    • Contact information

    This information should also be put up on your website so that anyone can access it at any time.

    Step 5 – Identify potential sponsors

    Identifying the right sponsors to go after is a very important step. It could save you a lot of time, effort and discouragement if you’re able to target the right businesses right off the bat. These businesses have the funds, the autonomy to spend, and can realistically benefit from what you have to offer.

    Here are a few industries that align well with what volleyball clubs generally have to offer:

    · Fitness gyms· Insurance agents· Banks· Spas· Coffee shops· Sporting goods stores· Financial advisors· Realtors· Furniture stores· Les Schwab· Pizza places· Auto part stores· Burrito places· Office supply stores· Subways· Smoothie shops· Nail salons· Physical therapists· Dentists· Massage therapists

    One of the easiest ways to determine which businesses to target first is to find out which parents in your club own their own company and which ones are employed by companies on your potential sponsor list. When you identify a few leads that could help you in your search, try striking up a conversation about their company’s giving policy or what they’ve given in the past to youth sports teams.

    Step 6 – Sell your packages

    Now that you’ve defined what you have to offer, packaged it, up, priced it out and identified some leads, it’s time to sell.

    First things first: Find the decision-makers in your potential sponsor list, then figure out a way to get your sponsorship information in front of them. This can be done through email, in-person meeting or over the phone.

    Regardless of how you get the information in front of them, make sure you cater your sales pitch to each business specifically. Highlight how sponsoring your volleyball club can help them, not how their money could help you.

    If you can’t think of a way your club could help them, you need to go back to Step 5 and work a little harder on targeting the right businesses.

    Step 7 – Activation

    Simply put, this step is delivering on what you said you would do. To make sure this happens, create systems and checklists to knock off all your to do’s for each sponsor and carry them out better than you promised.

    It also helps to check in with the sponsor a few times throughout the year to get feedback on the value you’re providing them and what you could do to increase their exposure or sales.

    Also, a nice touch you can add is sending them a thank you card or poster signed by all your players and staff.

    What you’ll find is it’s the little things you do in the activation step that make it a no-brainer for the sponsor to sign on with you next year. So work hard to provide value and this process will keep getting easier and easier.

    The Art of Coaching Volleyball is an educational partner of the Junior Volleyball Association.For more junior volleyball education visit