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How To Measure ROI for Event Sponsorships    

A2Z Team May 8, 2024
Table of Contents
11 min read


What if brands could reach out to customers in a natural, positive way that helped their business to build lasting relationships? What if they could associate their brand with other organizations with positive messages? Also, what if they could gain insights into their customers and benefit from the association with a positive cause or organization? 

These and more are potential benefits of sponsoring an event. Becoming an event sponsor is one of the most collaborative and potentially effective ways businesses can generate leads and reach sales goals. Read on to learn more about why event sponsorship is important and how sponsors can get the maximum return on investment (ROI) from their sponsorship. 

Understanding Event Sponsorship and Exhibitor ROI: 

Why would a business or organization want to sponsor an event or be an exhibitor? Brand awareness and visibility are top of the list, but there are many other reasons. 

Sponsorship sends a positive message to current and potential customers. Sponsors don’t just get their name out to the event audience, they receive opportunities to connect with potential customers in a more personal, and often lasting way. 

However, being a sponsor or an exhibitor comes at a cost. Whether it’s providing materials for an event, like tote bags or samples, or paying for signage or exhibit space, sponsorship isn’t free. It costs money, and businesses and organizations need a good return on their investment (ROI). 

Your events should offer the best ROI possible for sponsors, ensuring they’ll return year after year. Ideally, you can encourage sponsors to grow their participation by sharing with them how many benefits they can get from participating as sponsors. 

Event Sponsorship Vs. Other Marketing Spends: 

Why do sponsors put their names and logos at events? Let’s consider a big sports event, like the World Cup or Super Bowl, as an example. Major businesses sponsor these events not just to get their name out in public, but also to be associated with a world-renowned brand. 

However, there are many other types of events and expos which offer sponsorship opportunities. Health expos, local sports events, educational conferences, charitable events, and business expos all provide opportunities to connect with current and potential customers as well as build positive brand associations. 

Sponsoring an event offers businesses advantages and benefits that can be challenging or impossible to obtain through advertising, content marketing, or direct sales calls. Sponsorship benefits include: 

  • Strengthening business and professional relationships. 
  • Gaining valuable insights about customers and your industry. 
  • Growing a positive reputation 
  • Gaining media attention 
  • Generating leads and increasing sales 
  • Boosting your brand’s visibility 
  • Showcasing or introducing a product or service 

While some of these benefits can come from other types of advertising or marketing, most of them are available primarily through event sponsorship. 

How To Increase Event Sponsorship Revenue: 

One of the best ways to increase sponsorship revenue at an event is to make it easy for sponsors to get in contact with you. Set up a website for sponsors that shows them opportunities and sponsorship tiers. Some events only include financial levels for sponsorship, but here are some other ideas for sponsors that can attract a diverse group and grow revenue: 

  • Establish fun activities for attendees. 
  • Set up charging stations and Wi-Fi hotspots 
  • Create contests and drawings 
  • Provide interactive experiences 
  • Include swag bags with products and coupons 

If you’re holding a virtual expo, you can still incorporate fun activities, contests, and drawings. Finally, consider providing speaking opportunities or sponsorship for different segments of your event. 

Look beyond traditional tiered levels of financial sponsorship to different ways that your attendees and sponsors can interact. Social media opportunities, like photo walls and games branded with sponsor logos, provide creative ideas and an easy way for sponsors to get additional exposure. The more opportunities you can create for diverse sponsors, the greater the chances your event can increase sponsorship revenue. 

Understand Your Audience: 

When you’re considering sponsorship opportunities and packages, it’s important to consider the needs and interests of your event attendees as well as the sponsors. A conference for scientists probably isn’t the best location for a dunk tank sponsored by a scientific instrument maker. Or, it might be, if the attendees look forward to fun events at the conference each year and have a good sense of humor. 

Events bring diverse people together, whether they’re virtual or in-person, or hybrid. Finding the right balance of sponsorship packages and opportunities to meet the needs of attendees and sponsors alike can be challenging. 

First-time events are learning experiences, and you should assess your successes and failures to see what has worked well for sponsors and attendees and what hasn’t. It’s important to survey attendees and sponsors following events to gain a better understanding of all of your stakeholders and audience members. Survey results can help guide how you tailor sponsorship packages and create events that work for everyone involved. 

Customize Packages: 

We already mentioned that traditional models of tiered financial sponsorship may not be the best fit for every event. Spending time to customize sponsorship packages can build sponsorship revenue and also increase sponsor loyalty and interest. 

You can place a value on each sponsorship opportunity at your event. For example: 

  • Swag bag logo placement: $500 
  • Workshops: $1,000 
  • Stage sponsorship: $1,500 

This sponsorship package would total $3,000. Another customized package might include t-shirts, banners, or paying for a Wi-Fi hotspot. 

Enhance Sponsor Visibility: 

We’ve all attended events where sponsors sat in booths in exhibit halls with limited or no visibility. Sponsors have contributed financially and supported your event, so they deserve good visibility in return for their contributions. 

You can enhance sponsor visibility by incorporating their presence into your event in a more active way than just providing a booth and table. Include information about them in your program. Announce their business and provide information through your program. Provide on-stage opportunities for them to speak or give awards or prizes. When media come to your event, be sure that sponsor logos are clearly visible, and that you also engage sponsors with media representatives whenever it’s appropriate. 

Double Down on Marketing: 

If you include event sponsors in your content marketing strategies at all phases of your event, from planning to pre-event marketing, at the event, and following the event, you’re encouraging them to return year after year because of the opportunities for visibility and recognition that they receive from being positively associated with your event and brand over time. 

With sponsors seeking the maximum ROI possible for their contributions to your event, you owe it to them to not just provide visibility to them on the day of the event, but also throughout your marketing efforts. 

You could also look for ways to build sponsorship opportunities into your event marketing and sales. If your sponsors see that their name will be on event websites, tickets, and featured in pre-event media, they will see greater value in their sponsorship and reap a higher ROI. 

Following events, you can also include sponsor messaging in post-event publicity and media coverage. These strategies help to maximize the value that sponsors receive. 

Showcase Past Sponsors: 

Have you heard, “Past performance is the best indicator of future behavior?” Highly successful events maintain a tradition of sponsor recognition that can lead to competition among sponsors for coveted slots and spaces. 

Large companies compete for sponsorship spots at major events. For example, Pepsi sponsored the Super Bowl’s halftime show for a decade in a deal that was reportedly worth $2 billion. In 2022, Apple took over the Super Bowl’s halftime show sponsorship in another multi-year deal. Apple was reportedly able to provide additional media coverage for the halftime show that benefited the NFL, performers, and its own brand. 

While your event might not be as high-profile as the Super Bowl, it’s a good idea to view your event as much value to sponsors and attendees as possible. Provide opportunities to your sponsors that illustrate the value they’re receiving. Multi-year agreements can generate multiple years of positive ROI for your sponsors. This will build interest and create a positive environment for sponsorship that can build success from year to year. 

Feature Testimonials and Success Stories: 

Here’s one testimonial from a local food festival: “Thanks for an awesome event! We gave away every sample and our attendance was greater than you estimated. We’ll be back next year!” 

An international student festival sponsor said, “For us, the sponsor program helps us to build bridges of understanding with someone from another culture. We learn from them and they learn from us.” 

Putting together successful testimonials encourages others to become involved as sponsors. Direct stories of success can prove invaluable when working with new sponsors or encouraging sponsors at lower levels of participation to increase their sponsorship and involvement. 

Highlight Networking Benefits: 

Events aren’t just about selling things or building sales funnels by getting emails, phone numbers, and addresses through prize drawings. Being an event sponsor gives the business a unique opportunity for engagement with other businesses and leaders in a given business sector. 

There are also social networking benefits for sponsors. For example, if a business sponsors a 10K race to benefit a local children’s charity, employees of that business can also participate in the race and meet others who might prove to be good business partners in the future. 

Sponsors who receive the opportunity to speak at your event can make valuable connections with audience members and other businesses who might become valuable partners in the future. Simply increasing visibility can be a benefit for emerging brands and businesses. 

For example, let’s consider a new business that provides B2B services like customized insurance quotes. They can use event sponsorship to introduce their business to others and grow their client base. Or, let’s talk about food festivals. A new restaurant may want to showcase some of their best recipes or dishes at the festival. 

There are other ways to measure ROI than simply increased sales. Although it’s challenging to place a specific monetary value on networking, it could be one of the highest returns on investment for sponsors, especially when it’s measured over time. 

Craft Compelling Sponsorship Proposals: 

Effective sponsorship proposals should contain specific, measurable, and quantifiable benefits for sponsors. Gone are the days of simple e-mails or letters that just say, “It’s that time of year again! Pick your level: gold, silver, or bronze sponsor.” 

Tailor your sponsor correspondence to the businesses, organizations, and individuals you’re contacting. At the minimum, create proposals for long-time sponsors and for bringing new sponsors on board. Offer testimonials and increase value and appeal by showing ROI that sponsors have received in the past. 

A proposal that highlights the potential benefits and return on investment for a new sponsor might highlight the positive experience of a non-competitive business. For example, you could say “Last year, this local real estate company says they reached 500 potential customers and received 25 new listings by sponsoring their booth at our 10K run.” 

The more specific and engaging you can be with your proposals, the better chance they will have of success. 

Engage Sponsors Year-round: 

A lot can change in a year’s time. That’s just one of the reasons why it’s important to stay in touch with your sponsors throughout the year, not just in the weeks leading up to your event. Some ideas for continuing engagement and staying in touch with sponsors throughout the year include newsletters, social media postings, e-mail updates, and features in local media. 

If you only contact sponsors once a year when it’s time for them to renew their commitment, you’re inviting disconnection instead of connection and engagement. Some event organizers use a schedule to determine which contacts are most beneficial throughout the year. Consider establishing a quarterly or even monthly calendar of updates, reminders, or simply good news that you can share with your sponsor cohort. 

Event Sponsorship ROI Example Scenarios: 

The simplest way to provide ROI scenarios for sponsors is to assess a value for each contact or exposure through your event and their sponsorship. 

Let’s consider a car dealer who provides an automobile as a hole-in-one prize at a golf tournament. Let’s say the car’s value is at least $45,000. If there are 80 players at your event, an average number for most charity tournaments, and someone does get a hole-in-one, the dealer has provided a $45,000 sponsorship. 

Calculate a value for the media exposure that the dealer will receive, for example, local television and news coverage. Then estimate that the dealer may sell an additional four or five vehicles to players or the audience following the event, because they’ve seen the car and are encouraged to visit the dealer later on. This can illustrate that they will receive a return of at least $10,000 to $15,000 in media coverage, and additional sales of $180,000 to $200,000. That represents an excellent ROI of more than 4 times their sponsorship. 

Here’s another potential scenario: a local dentist agrees to sponsor a 5K race for local after-school youth programs. They provide $1,000 in cash and also receive the opportunity to put toothbrushes and dental floss with their name and contact information into race swag bags. The cost of the giveaways is another $800. The dentist can expect to receive at least twenty new patients based on their sponsorship. The dentist’s annual value per patient is about $600. 

You calculate ROI by dividing the amount of projected benefit your sponsor will receive by the cash value of the sponsorship: for example, $12,000 in new patient value divided by $1,800 in sponsorship cost = 6.66 ROI. In any industry, this is considered an excellent multiplier for an investment. 

Other forms of sponsorship may be more difficult to quantify. For example, an organization may provide $5,000 for a speaking opportunity at your event. You may not be able to provide a specific value for them in terms of increased sales or customer engagement. However, you can consider telling them that they can expect at least two or three times their return on investment in the form of media exposure, opportunities for networking, and a positive association with your event, contributing to their own branding and reputation management. 

In nearly every sponsorship calculation, you should be able to show a positive ROI for the sponsor. Don’t exaggerate. Do be aware that realistic calculations showing that you understand the sponsor’s business and their needs are an effective way to build long-term relationships that will support your event at the same time as they help the sponsor’s business to thrive. 


Sponsorship is a specific type of marketing expense, and it also incorporates both earned media and marketing and free media and marketing. Sponsors can increase sales and uncover new leads through their sponsorship, and they can also spread brand messages to the people who attend and participate in your events. 

Working with sponsors entails more than asking for money in a tiered sponsorship structure and depositing the funds. Understanding the benefits that a business or organization has from sponsoring your event helps you to collaborate more effectively with the sponsor. Here are some ways that your event can use sponsorship ROI and best practices to grow and build your sponsorship program: 

  • Stay in contact throughout the year, not just when it’s time to ask for money or participation. 
  • Develop creative opportunities for sponsors. 
  • Build opportunities for shared media and marketing exposure. 
  • Be sophisticated and personalized when calculating sponsorship ROI. 
  • Create sponsorship packages tailored to each sponsor’s business as well as your event needs. 

Building strong relationships with sponsors is key to driving the success of your events as well as improving business and networking opportunities for the sponsors that provide your event with support. A strong sponsorship program that is continuously evolving and improving is a cornerstone of successful events.