Types of project sponsors (with checklist to find a match)

Updated 31 July 2023

Projects often require and seek funding, especially those that have ambitious goals. Finding support from outside sources to augment your internal resources is key to the successful attainment of targets. This is where a project sponsor may supplement an organisation's strengths and weaknesses by endorsing, funding and enhancing the project under agreed upon terms. In this article, we discuss what a project sponsor is, their role in a project and how to improve relations with your long-term sponsor to boost organisational outcomes.

What is a project sponsor?

Project sponsors are business leaders, playing key roles in facilitating ongoing progress in the project and ensuring the team meets the predetermined outcomes. Sponsors provide money and other resources used in the project's processes. A sponsor aids communication and organisation throughout the process of a project, keeping on the project's schedule and supporting the viable completion of the project. Further responsibilities of a sponsor include:

  • analysing the project to ensure alignment with planning

  • ensuring proper execution of tasks and roles

  • acting as spokesperson for the team

  • maintaining a good relationship with stakeholders, such as the client, the project manager and project players from external companies

  • providing ongoing support for the project in material and logistical terms

  • verifying outcomes at the end of the project's processes

  • supporting risk management processes and securing staff safety

The role of a sponsor

Sponsors have a range of potential roles. These adjust and shape the nature of a sponsor's work, redirecting the efforts to a selection of different tasks. Below are some key roles of a sponsor and how they vary from one another in a practical sense:

Executive sponsor

An executive sponsor is the highest level of project management executive and typically funds the project directly, rather than focusing on resource allocation and efficiency. Here, funds come directly from the sponsor's organisation or through a funding model put in place by the sponsor. Executive sponsors manage organisational change and resolve underlying organisational issues, working beyond the project and throughout the organisation.

Business analyst

Another sponsorship role is an individual or organisation that uses technical backgrounding to assess and document the chain of value throughout the product cycle. Business analysts establish the needs and focal points of the project. Documentation is a fundamental aspect of governance, implemented for posterity and long-term prosperity through learning from past actions. Business analysts establish performance standards and direct the team without funding input.

Related: How to become a business analyst (with roles and salaries)

Technical advisor

Sponsors also work as technical advisors to the team. Those funding projects have an interest in the field and thus possess some expertise in that area. That technical knowledge helps the team through rising issues, key to building necessary solutions as the project forges on to its final stages. Contributing funding isn't the sole capacity of a sponsor and other abilities sponsors hold are integral to project success.

Strategy lead

Finally, sponsors act as strategy leads. Their funding and resources are at risk in the project, thus heeding sponsor input on the project. They're the ones spending money and risking financial security, so their opinion has value on the team. They may offer guidance or make decisions throughout the project, including determining methods of product delivery, monitoring inter-team logistics to work collaboratively and tasking assignments to appropriate teams. Completing these tasks successfully is integral to project success and the security of funding offered.

Related: Administrative skills: definition and examples

Why seek a sponsor?

Using a sponsor has a range of benefits. Each benefit increases the likelihood of positive outcomes, directing the project in the right direction. Below are some key benefits of using sponsors and the impact they have on working effectively as a business:

Increased resources

The most common reason for using a sponsor is the greater amount of funding and resources available. Sponsors, typically, are wealthy in either monetary value or resources. For example, a millionaire has equivalent sponsorship value to an individual owning an equivalent value of transportation trucks and plant equipment.

Sponsors are most commonly used in this manner when a project lacks adequate resources for completion alone. Companies risk bankruptcy when investing in projects they can't pay for, thus making use of external individuals and funding sources is key to company and project longevity alike. Sponsors are a great way of integrating assistance with other key benefits.

Related: Project sponsor vs project manager: differences and FAQs


Sponsors bring more than money to the table. For example, sponsors have a significant amount of expertise in their field. A team using sponsors more knowledgeable than them creates a wider knowledge base for the project on the whole. Projects are wide-ranging investments affecting all members of a company, often entailing many steps and features throughout. It's this depth, breadth and impact that requires further focus on the information at hand rather than learning on the job. Introducing sponsors is a teaching role, so it's beneficial to project outcomes in the long run.


Sponsors increase the visibility of the project to the wider market and associated media outlets such as industry magazines and even national press. More people and organisations involved in the project increase the likelihood that more people discuss it with their network, increasing the likelihood of people paying attention. As with any business manoeuvre, attention to wider markets is key to turning projects into profits.

When looking for sponsors as a method of increasing media coverage of a project, look to individuals with a high reputation and contacts within the industry. These contacts publish information about the project and the extent of sponsor involvement, amplifying the message surrounding the project at hand. Working closely in tandem with sponsors with high reputations increases visibility, profitability and likelihood of finding sponsors in the long term.

Related: Digital marketing skills: definition and examples

How to improve relations with a sponsor

Although a sponsor is at the heart of your project, their engagement and investment are integral to its continued success. Improved relations are at the heart of functional sponsor coordination. Read on to find out steps to take when improving the relationship between your project team and a sponsor and learn why each step is key to boosting the links between the two:

1. Hold regular meetings

Organising regular meetings between the project team and sponsor is key to maintaining positive relationships. Where sponsors seek input in the project going forwards, refusing meeting access excludes a major part of the team from the finer details of the process. Organise regular detailed meetings, loop in sponsors and have healthy discussions with financial and logistical partners.

Related: How to write a meeting agenda (with tips and sample)

2. Accept input

Besides looping sponsors into progress, accept input from sponsors regarding project structure, timing and logistics. Where meetings entail one-way dialogue, opening the floor for comment from sponsors and interested parties not only keeps the interest of sponsors but widens the flow of opinion in the project. Sponsors may then feel invested in the positive outcome of projects as they include their own views in the systems in question, rather than acting as a spectating stakeholder.

Related: 8 essential steps for building relationships at work

3. Transparency

Transparency is integral in all projects, especially those including sponsors. Sponsors worry when they're unaware of where funds go, how they're spent and whether they're spending too much. Create a report for each sponsor outlining where funding and resources go throughout the process, describing in-depth how the resource and what it achieved. This thoroughly informs investors and sponsors, clarifying where their funds go and that the investment is worthwhile for all parties involved.

Checklist for an ideal sponsor

Below is a checklist for an ideal sponsor. Each aspect is key to project success in the long term. Ensure that sponsors fulfil some, if not all, of the requirements listed below:

  • They possess adequate resources and single-handedly hold the ability to support the project shortfalls.

  • In the event you require further sponsors, they work well with external interests.

  • They're enthusiastic about the project and the wider field the project sits in.

  • They have a positive track record of supporting projects in sponsorship roles.

  • They align with company ethical and moralistic standards, maintaining the character of the organisation.

  • They provide a plan for the project, establishing their vision and why they're an interested party.

Explore more articles

  • How To Become a Film Director (With Definition and Steps)
  • What it takes to be a cardiac nurse: duties and skills
  • How to get into post-production (Plus definition and skills)
  • How to get a job in game journalism In 10 clear steps
  • Pros and cons of working as an endoscopy nurse (with tips)
  • What does a head of product do? (Duties and requirements)
  • How to become an environmental engineer
  • How to become an accountant without a degree (Plus benefits)
  • Job role change: what to do when your responsibilities change
  • What can you do with a maths degree? (20 maths degree jobs)
  • How To Become an Accountant
  • Q&A: What is a boutique consulting firm? (With FAQs)