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How to Get Sponsors for Your Event

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How to Convince Companies to Sponsor Your Nonprofit Event
Graph showing why consumers like to buy products that sponsor causes.

How sponsoring helps change the behaviors and attitudes of consumers about products. Edelman’s 2012 goodpurpose® study. Click to enlarge.

People at corporations sponsor for a lot of reasons.

  • They might sponsor because it's good marketing.
  • They sponsor because it's good for their bottom line.
  • They could sponsor because one of their employees has gotten involved with your nonprofit.
  • They may also sponsor because they're competitive with other corporations.

Corporate brand managers have to be sure that your particular event and your particular cause will be of use to them.

Positioning & Marketing Your Nonprofit

Before you talk with your potential sponsor, ask yourself, how are you positioning and marketing your nonprofit brand? What is positioning? What is marketing? If you've never studied either, don't worry.

1. Positioning: How do you compare to other nonprofits? How is your focus different?

  • Think about the position of your event

    How does your event compare to other nonprofit events in town? What do you offer that is unique and different? It's a good opportunity to start thinking about how you CAN be different from other events. Articulate your difference and you'll be able to more clearly articulate your value.

  • Think about the position of your nonprofit

    Are you an LGBTQ nonprofit? Is there an LGBTQ employee group at this particular corporation? Have you reached out to this group? When you start to think about your cause and how this corporation has shown they care about issues around your cause, you can start to find people who can advocate for you inside the business.

2. Marketing: How are you marketing your event? How many people will you reach out to? Online? Offline?

  • Marketing your event

    There are tons of online and offline ways to reach out around your event. And they don't all have to cost a lot.

    Here are just a few ways to market your event offline; Event signage, Street Banner, Naming opportunity for event award, Postcards, Invitations, Newspaper ad, TV ad and Radio ad.

    And here are some online marketing channels; Banner on your website, Mention on your blog, Mention in your e-newsletter, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Once you figure out how you're going to market your event, you need to get approximate numbers of:

  • Ad impressions on TV, Radio, Newspaper, Internet (TV, Radio, and Newspapers should have "rate sheets" for their ads that can tell you how many people potentially saw or heard your ad)
  • Online (unique visitors to different websites is what you can track. You can also use Tweetreach to calculate the number of people who saw tweets about your event.)
  • Pre-events and demographic of audience at exclusive pre-events. (If a corporation is attempting to reach out to a certain segment of people, having those people at your pre-events will be useful in convincing corporations to sponsor.)
  • People interacting, seeing, hearing, touching, tasting at event itself.

Ask Questions of Your Potential Sponsors

Corporate brand managers want sponsorships to accomplish two main things. They want to change consumer perceptions and change consumer behavior. Your job is to show them how your sponsorship will accomplish this.

When you start reaching out to corporations, corporate brand managers may have some assumptions about you. You're a nonprofit staff person. You may not even have the word "communications" or "marketing" in your title! What could you POSSIBLY know about marketing?

You don't have to know everything. You need to ask good questions. Ask:

  1. Who they sponsored before
  2. What their experience was with that
  3. What target audience they are trying to reach with new products or services
  4. If they could dream big, what kind of sponsorship experience they'd give attendees
  5. How they will measure if they have changed consumer perceptions & behavior

According to a report by Edelman, sponsoring you will help them change their customers' perceptions and behavior! Just take a look at the chart above. It is from Edelman's recent survey of global brands. It shows that consumers are getting savvier about which brands they consume.

For example, in 2012

  • 72% of people surveyed would recommend a brand based on the brand's social conscience.
  • 71% in 2012 would promote a brand based on its connection with a cause, and
  • 73% would SWITCH brands for a brand tied to a cause.

Those are powerful numbers. You don't have to prove that your event will do all of these things. The data backs you up. And it's really up to them to measure if they have more sales or change consumer perceptions because of this sponsorship. You don't have the resources to measure this, and you shouldn't have to.

If you'd like to learn more about sponsorship, here are some resources:

Do you have any sponsorship tips you'd like to add? Let us know below.

Treyz is the author of The Wild Woman's Guide to Fundraising, and she has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars with sponsorships for small nonprofits.

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