Best Practices: Contacting Corporate Funders About Sponsorship Opportunities
– Ed Lord, Peer-to-Peer Fundraising
- Do your homework. If the company has a charitable foundation, read about their giving interests ahead of time. Contact those whose interests align with your mission and vision. The more you know about your prospect, the more you can tailor your “ask” to their values and interests.
- Be able to clearly articulate your organization’s mission, vision, and event.
- Seek out local sponsors whose business relates to your cause. Focus your search on businesses that might want to reach the audience your organization serves or that have demonstrated an interest in your cause or community. For example, Habitat for Humanity counts among its sponsors several home improvement or building supply companies.
- Don’t overlook small businesses in your community; although some may not be able to donate cash, they may be a great source for in-kind gifts.
- Be specific. Are you asking for money? How much? Do you want volunteers or merchandise?
- Know your prospective sponsor’s marketing objectives. Corporate sponsorship is defined as “a form of advertising in which companies pay to be associated with certain events.” Remember that unlike grants, sponsorships are awarded as much for the benefit of the sponsor as the cause. You will have to make the case as to what benefits you can offer the sponsor besides the good work you do.
Businesses see sponsorships as marketing strategies, but also overall as business strategy. They want to align their brand with a good cause. They want exposure in front of your audience. Their “business” with you is often tied directly to sales and marketing objectives.
- Know what you have to offer a sponsor. Tell the company what your organization can do for them. Tell them what marketing opportunities you bring to the table, how you’ll advertise their gift, how many consumers you touch and how aligning with your organization positions them as a good corporate citizen.
- Show people how they can make a concrete difference or reach a concrete goal. People like to know that their donation is doing something specific and concrete. If at all possible, ask them to contribute to help do something specific. For example, “your sponsorship will pay for a keynote speaker or event marketing efforts.”
- Build relationships first whenever possible. Start with companies that employ your donors, board members, and volunteers. In other words, look first at places where you already have a personal connection.
- Know when to pitch your event. 45% of businesses make their sponsorship decisions in the last quarter. Timing is everything. It will take longer than you think for the decision to go through the corporate ranks. Give your sponsorship campaign plenty of time – at least 4 months out. You’ll sell yourself short if you work on a really short time frame. Reach out often.
- Know who the decision makers really are.
- Add employee engagement into the mix if appropriate. Are there opportunities for corporate employees to volunteer at the event or with your organization?
- “The Anatomy of an Ask” – Step-by-step process.
“How to Make Your Nonprofit Attractive to Corporate Sponsors”
“10 Step Guide to Cultivating Corporate Sponsors”