Unfortunately, many nonprofits don't have a clue about how to approach a potential sponsor, prepare the information needed, and persuade a sponsor to join them in a mutually beneficial project.
Organizations that become good sponsorship partners realize that this is a business deal, not a donation. They also learn that the skills involved in securing good corporate sponsorships are different from those that work in everyday fundraising.
Attracting Corporate Sponsors
Made Possible By: Succeeding With Sponsorship, by Patricia Martin (Jossey Bass, 2004), is a guide to developing those skills, attitudes, and insights that will result in being able to work with corporate sponsors for the benefit of all.
Martin, a specialist in matching nonprofits and businesses, says that a nonprofit that wants to be a sponsorship heavyweight has to first change its attitude. Those who succeed exhibit two qualities:
- Genuine interest in working with a sponsor because they know the alliance will provide something of value for both organizations.
- Conviction that they are offering a good marketing investment to the sponsor.
Martin points out that nonprofits need to price their proposals on its promotional value to the corporate sponsor. Sponsors want to exploit the commercial opportunities associated with an event, cause or organization.
It is as simple as that...but perhaps the hardest to grasp. Martin spells out the tangible and intangible value that your organization may be able to offer and provides a crash course in what motivates sponsors and the consumer values that the nonprofit will need to grasp.
Martin's book takes you through the organizational changes you will need, and then sketches the process of identifying and selling your proposition. There are charts, sample agreements and letters, as well as tax and accounting tips. Don't even think about approaching a potential sponsor until you have read this book.
Are You Ready for Corporate Sponsors? A Reality Check
To see if your organization is ready for a corporate sponsor, Martin provides the following check list:
- Do you have an established marketing effort in place so that you keep in touch with your constituents through e-mail, a website, events, newsletters, conferences, television, radio or print advertising?
- What do you know about your organization's demographics? Is there recent information about who participates and why? Where they live? How far they drive? Whether they are repeat users? Whether they are young families, empty nesters, or teens?
- Have you worked with corporate sponsors before? Do you have testimonials from corporate executives about the value of your organization? Do you feature those in press kits or other marketing materials?
- What is the competitive environment like? Are other organizations similar to yours getting corporate sponsorships?
- To gauge the effort involved in reaching corporate sponsors and meeting face-to-face, create a list of companies headquartered in your area. What do they produce, and to whom do they sell? Are there cross-promotions you can work up that will help them sell to one of your existing sponsors or team up with an existing sponsor?
- Are you a member of civic organizations made up of business people, so that you can gain insight and entrée into the business community?
- Is there an entrepreneurial spirit in your organization? Are new ideas welcomed, and do they receive thoughtful consideration? Have other commercial or revenue-generating initiatives been realized over the past five years?
You may just zip right through those questions and move right on to finding potential corporate sponsors. But, if not, Martin's book will guide you through the changes that will need to take place within and the steps to being a successful procurer of corporate sponsorships.
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