Sponsors are crucial to any activity promotion - without which much cannot be achieved.
However, sponsorships come in many kinds - those don't expect any returns, or those who require mileage in return for their gesture.
In today's world, one should not expect too many of the former but more of the latter. Look at the Grand Prixs, the World Cup etc. Big bucks for a name to displayed to millions.
Sadly, in chess sponsorship relies mainly on enthusiasts in high places with a genuine love for the game to part with their wealth. All over the world, these people are few to come by - eg Jacob van Oostrom, Mr Rentaro (who used to sponsor Linares), Bessel Kok who was formerly of SWIFT who did the World Cup series in the late 80's, Mr Cuchi of the New York Open fame etc. Yet how many people do remember the sponsors after the events are over?
We are often crying out that our scene suffers from the lack of sponsors. Yet sometimes we do not see the picture from their end. Sponsors I believe would much prefer if their names are carried on products long after the event is gone, so that everyone remembers them continually.
Moving ahead in the New Year, I am also tasked to look for a new sponsor for my Thomson Cup International who has been running for the past 4 years. This year, we want to make it a grand 5th anniversary so much canvassing work will be in progress. As a Community Club event rather than a national level event, we hope to try raise the awareness of chess on youths in our community at Thomson and hopefully the neighbourliness of the corporations around the area will be generous.
My strategy ? Start small - perhaps with a sponsorship for small clip-boards which the logo of the sponsor can be added at the back. Then proper table cloths to be made with the logo that can be hung from the side of the tables. These will make the sponsor's name visible, to enhance their image.
Next, attempt to beam the top games on stage with the sponsor's logo next to the beamed chessboards.
Finally, you will need to make the event attractive enough to warrant the press's attention - with media coverage confirmed, the sponsors will surely be more receptive knowing full well that they will get needed publicity for their efforts.
Much of what was said has been executed and has worked with the Karpov and Kasparov visit last year. It is not impossible to get the press's attention if you dream big. Let's do that - dream big. Have a Internet version of the Singapore - Malaysia match on New Year's Eve...or have Anand/Hou Yifan give a simul to the top government officials via the Internet. Only such projects will excite the attention of the masses and create interest for sponsors to come forth.