If you’re wondering how to get your nonprofit started soliciting corporate sponsors, or why you’d even want a sponsor to begin with, I’ve got you covered with a look at the strategies I use with my clients.
Sponsorship is a fantastic way to secure funding for major events, fundraisers, and programs. This funding helps offset the cost of expensive items like the venue and catering or it’s used to underwrite the hard costs of one of your organization’s programs.
Consumers are increasingly interested in corporations that show an interest in social responsibility. Corporations that are seen publicly aligning themselves with worthy causes and nonprofits can garner increased support, especially from the online community. For corporations, sponsorship is often the best PR money can buy.
Before we go any further, let’s get one thing straight:
Corporate sponsorship is not a donation to your nonprofit, it is a business deal.
Corporate sponsors expect to get something in return for their financial support of your event. This something takes the form of advertising opportunities and an acknowledgement of their sponsorship during the event itself. The idea is that exposure at your event will increase public awareness of their brand and philanthropic inclination among your donors and supporters.
That’s perhaps the most important point. Corporate sponsorship should ALWAYS be a win-win situation for companies and nonprofits. These are not one-sided relationships. You reach out to sponsors because you see a benefit in working together, your corporate sponsor must also see that benefit.
All corporate sponsorships should bring legitimacy to the nonprofit, improve the public image of the corporation, and increase public awareness of both.
Before You Dive In
Before you even begin reaching out to potential sponsors, do your research. Brainstorm a list of corporations who are already aligned with the goals/mission of your nonprofit or who are in an industry that directly relates to your cause.
You will have better luck approaching corporations who are already aligned with the goals of your nonprofit than you will approaching those to which there is no intrinsic link.
For example, if your nonprofit is a homeless shelter it makes sense to reach out to companies that specialize in food or personal care items because access to these items objectively improves the lives of your beneficiaries. You could also reach out to companies invested in job training or addiction treatment, services often needed by your beneficiaries. Aligning your nonprofit with corporations that match your core values is incredibly important.
If your nonprofit doesn’t already have robust email lists and a solid social media following, it is a good idea to work on growing those before approaching potential sponsors. Social media followers and email lists are used as currency, your nonprofit needs to show potential sponsors that you have something to offer them in terms of potential customers.
Most of my nonprofit clients have worked hard to grow their social media followers in order to offer mentions on social media as part of the compensation package presented to potential sponsors. For example, you could offer two dedicated Facebook posts, seen by your 10,000 followers, in addition to branding opportunities at the event and recognition from stage.
Regardless of which corporation your nonprofit decides to approach, you must sell your potential sponsor on the benefits to their company, not the benefits to your nonprofit.
Remember that sponsorship is first and foremost a business partnership. The partnership must benefit both your nonprofit and the corporation, otherwise it’s not worth it.
There’s so much more to corporate sponsorship than I’ve covered in this post. Next week we’ll take a look at the two main approaches your nonprofit can take to corporate sponsorship.