Well, tough times continue, and Bower's advice in this small, jam-packed book remains as relevant as it was a year ago.
Bower was inspired to write her book in the wake of the financial pressures on companies as they rode the tide of recession, but also because of the waves of public disapproval that battered many corporations and financial institutions. As the government poured money into rescuing entire business sectors, every move and expenditure was publicized and questioned by a chorus of critics, from the general public to congress to the White House.
Bower realized that the playing field for organizations seeking corporate sponsorships had changed dramatically, and that landing sponsorship deals was more difficult than ever before. She set out to both explain that new playing field and figure out how organizations should change their approaches to corporations and to creating sponsorship packages.
One positive note that Bower sounded was the relative advantage nonprofit causes have in such an economic situation. Research showed that the public thought more highly of corporate sponsorship of charitable causes than of any other kind of sponsorship, such as sports events.
Having read Bower's book recently, here are some take-aways that I thought particularly relevant for nonprofits:
- Know your current sponsors. Pay attention to the economic realities they are living with. Scan your sponsors' environment; talk with them about what is going on; show your willingness to work with whatever disadvantages they are experiencing now.
- Based on what you learn, creatively craft your sponsorship opportunity in a way, as Bower puts it, that can "address, alleviate, ameliorate, mitigate, and/or take advantage of these circumstances."
- Learn how to measure the value of your corporate sponsorship so that if and when criticism arises, there is proof of ROI. In a climate of constant questioning of the value of each expense, those expenses that stay in budgets must show a return and offer value.
- Look for new sponsors with a creative eye. For instance, Bower says, "...a company that has image issues, or is intent on building its customer base, though left for dead by the media, may very well make a good sponsor for you," especially if you can help with that image problem.
- Reassess your assets. You may be only skimming the surface of potential value that you have to offer a sponsor. Bower urges, "Keep digging and probing. What else do you have to offer that is part of your core competencies, or is vital to your nonprofit mission, that businesses may find of value?" It's not just about displaying the company's logo.
- Know your audiences. Bower asks, "Do you really know who comes to your event? Do you have a clear sense of who participates in the programs or activities of your organization? Can you describe these audiences in detail to your sponsors?"
- Build a culture that supports sponsorship. Living in an anti-corporate culture might have affected your staff, board members, and volunteers. Make sure your guidelines for corporate partners are strong and protect you from criticism. Then educate your organization about sponsorship, helping everyone to understand the role the corporate sector has in supporting your cause. Explain what sponsorship is and how it works.
There is much more in Bower's useful book. You've likely acquired a small collection of materials about operating in a recessionary climate. Be sure to add this book to it. Bower also consults, runs teleseminars and blogs.
- How Can My Small Charity Get Corporate Sponsorships?
- Made Possible By: Succeeding With Sponsorships - a Review
- Why Do Companies Sponsor Charitable Events?
- Cause-Related Marketing: What You Need to Know
- What You Should Know About Baby Boomer Women and Cause Marketing
- Cause Marketing Speaks Loudest to Moms and Millennials