Although it's one of the jobs I've taken on for Conspiracy '87, I must admit here and now that I'm no expert on the subject. What I have discovered though is how to get in touch with the experts through the Association for Business Sponsorship of the Arts. This organisation exists to help put arts groups in touch with businesses who see sponsorship as a way of promoting themselves. There are a number of free leaflets that they produce, giving a list businesses involved in sponsorship, advice on obtaining sponsorship and many other pieces of useful information.
The best help, however, costs £5 and comes in the form of a ring binder containing a complete step by step guide to sponsorship. It begins with how to assess your organisation, developing suitable sponsorship packages, identifying suitable companies, making successful approaches, and keeping your sponsor happy. It then goes on to look in detail at the nuts and bolts of the process: from what to say on the phone, what to put in the first letter, through how to dress for the first meeting and what the tax situation will be for each party. The folder also contains sample letters, proposals and contracts. Great stuff!
The problem is that I only got hold of this cornucopia with three months to go to the convention. One of the main points ABSA makes is that large companies decide their sponsorship budgets 12-18 months in advance. (This accounts for my stack of letters politely turning down the offer of participation in the Worldcon). Oh well, I'll know better next time.
The address to write to for information is: The Association for Business Sponsorship of the Arts, 2 Chester St, London SW1X 7BB. Tel: 01 235 9781.