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If you're a small business entering into a sponsorship with a spokesperson or another organisation, you need to make sure you first have a sponsorship agreement in place. It's a must-have for any company and protects you from liability.
Here's everything you need to know about negotiating a sponsorship agreement and where you can find free templates to download.
What is a sponsorship agreement?
A sponsorship agreement is a legally binding contract between the sponsor and the sponsored and can be for profit or not-for-profit. The contract lists in detail the legal obligations of both parties who want to engage in a sponsorship deal, such as sponsoring your local junior rugby team.
When should I use a sponsorship agreement?
Before you embark upon your sponsorship partnership, you will want to make sure you have a sponsorship agreement in place. It not only safeguards you and your partner, but it ensures both parties are legally bound to their roles and responsibilities. Business deals function better when there's a clearly defined outline of terms and conditions.
Sponsorship agreement vs. sponsorship proposal
A sponsorship proposal is the precursor to your sponsorship agreement. It is the asking letter that details what you are willing to give in return for sponsoring a team or person or event. It's not a legally binding document, but it is a necessity in negotiating the final agreement.
What is included in a sponsorship agreement?
There are a number of clauses and conditions you need to include in your sponsorship agreement, including:
- Sponsorship term. This identifies how long the contract will remain in effect. Is it a one-time event or is it a fixed term contract? Is there a renewal clause?
- Exclusivity clause. This states whether you have exclusive rights to the sponsorship and what that entails.
- Sponsorship payments. This needs to be laid out in plain terms, detailing the amount of money or product to be paid and on what kind of schedule. This could be translated into advertising dollars or promotional items or a lump sum of money, common in charity sponsorships.
- Sponsor benefits. This details the return on your investment. What benefit will you get out of the deal?
- Termination clause. An absolute necessity for avoiding disputes with your sponsorship partner. The agreement should list the terms of termination and if there is a renewal clause. How can the contract be renewed before it expires?
- Intellectual property clause. A must-have in order to protect confidential information and other sensitive material like graphics and logos. Rules surrounding the sharing and distribution and use of such material needs to be detailed in the sponsorship agreement.
How effective is a sponsorship agreement?
A sponsorship agreement needs to be detailed and agreed upon by both parties in order to be effective.
Without a sponsorship agreement you could find yourself in a dispute with your sponsorship partner if things don't go according to plan. Having everything in writing, signed and dated keeps everyone accountable and aware of their roles and legal responsibilities.
Having a sponsorship agreement in place can:
- Safeguard your investment
- Clearly identify the responsibilities of both parties
- Ensure a return on your investment
- Protect your intellectual property
- Help you avoid disputes and terminations
Do I need a lawyer for a sponsorship agreement?
A sponsorship agreement is a complicated document if it's laid out in the kind of detail it needs to be useful. Some one-pager templates you find are a good starting point, but you need all your terms and conditions factored into the document and a lawyer is the best person for that. You might just need a consultation or a few hours of correcting mistakes and omissions, but it's well worth it.
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How do I write a sponsorship agreement?
You can start by doing a web search for a free template to download (there are lots of free options out there). This will give you a guide to work through with your sponsorship partner when you start to negotiate all the terms and conditions together. After that, it's worth getting the document professionally drafted up by a lawyer, just to make sure there's nothing missing and it complies with the defined terms and definitions.
Where to get free legal documents and templates like a sponsorship agreement
For free legal template downloads, you have lots of online options. Some sites let you view sample documents for free, while others offer unlimited access to free downloads when you enrol in their membership program. Here are a few legal websites where you can find a sponsorship agreement for download:
- LawDepot. LawDepot offers hundreds of business and legal documents, free to download. All you do is fill them in online before downloading the documents straight to your computer.
- Wonder.Legal. Choose from more than 140 legal document templates with an average fee of $22.96 to download. All you have to do is fill out a questionnaire and Wonder.Legal does the rest.
- Lawpath. Lawpath is an online legal resource for small businesses and entrepreneurs. You can view samples of legal document templates for free, but a fee is required for access to downloads and customisable options.
- LegalVision. For a monthly membership to LegalVision of $199, you'll get unlimited access to free downloads of legal document templates.
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