Let’s face it: Non-Profits live and die by their ability to secure donations, grants, and corporate sponsorships.
Corporate sponsorship may seem unrealistic for smaller organizations, but the continued media attention devoted to corporate giving and the wide variety of benefits offered to corporations who sponsor Non-Profits makes it feasible at any level.
The benefits for corporations aren’t just the tax-deductible kind, either.
According to recent polling stats, 91% of global consumers are likely to switch brands to one associated with a good cause, given comparable price and quality.
With that in mind, it’s easy to see why Non-Profits are well-positioned to attract, secure, and benefit from the continued support of corporate sponsorships.
In this article, we’ll look at 5 ways to build sponsorships for your Non-Profit…
1. Do Your Research, Know Your Audience
When launching a corporate sponsorship program, two considerations should be in front of the mind.
First, consider the kind of sponsor you want to attract. Sure, money is money — but there needs to exist an alignment between the values of your Non-Profit and those of your potential corporate sponsor.
This leads to the second consideration, namely, asking yourself what benefits your organization can provide to the corporation(s) you’re targeting.
Does your Non-Profit have a substantial social media base or email list? Does it circulate a widely read newsletter? Can you assist with brand visibility on event collateral like t-shirts, banners, or landing sites?
At the end of the day, corporations view sponsorships as business relationships. So, you’ll want to think like a business and anticipate your potential sponsor’s needs.
2. Demonstrate Sustainability
If your Non-Profit organization is relatively new (say, less than 10 years old), you’ll need to prove your sustainability.
A VC firm would hardly invest in a new company with unsustainable goals. This is equally true of their investment in Non-Profit organizations.
So, not only must you appeal to the empathy of your corporate sponsors, but you’ll also need a business plan to demonstrate your sustainability.
Create graphs, spreadsheets, and eye-catching presentations that appeal to the concerns of those who work in the corporate sector.
3. Provide Incentives
Beyond the relatively straightforward demonstration of alignment and sustainability, you’ll want to provide incentives to potential corporate partners.
Ask yourself: Why would a business give your organization money?
Why should they assume the risk of sponsoring a campaign that may fail to meet the objectives outlined in your presentation?
One way to incentivize a company is through “matching donation” periods during a fundraising campaign. This ensures that your corporate sponsor will donate an amount proportionate to the level of the outreach of which your organization is capable (i.e., rather than providing tens-of-thousands of dollars to fund a campaign that might yield very little exposure for their company).
You may also consider organizing your pitch into a 3-5 tiered “giving plan,” according to which sponsors enjoy different benefits. A basic package might include a handful of social media posts and a small ad in the organization’s newsletter, whereas a gold-level package might contain everything from event collateral to professionally made videos.
4. Learn the “Language” of Your Sponsors
Let’s now assume you’ve secured a corporate sponsor.
Organizational success isn’t just about having a good plan — it’s about executing on that plan in a consistent, impactful way.
And that’s where communication comes in. Corporations have specific ways of communicating about and measuring success.
For example, when a corporation sponsors an event, they want to be able to measure their return on investment (ROI). These measurements proceed along with key performance indicators (KPIs), viz., the criteria by which that company tracks success over time.
Thus, in reporting the results of a sponsored campaign to a corporation, you’ll want to address their KPIs in detail. The most common metric used to measure sponsorship ROI is to evaluate the amount of exposure the sponsor received during the campaign.
Did your Non-Profit run an ad, in your local newspaper, that featured your sponsor’s logo? If so, how many impressions did it receive?
What about email blasts? Direct mail? Social Media posts?
Marketing KPIs are notoriously difficult to measure, but if you can provide your sponsor with a list of tangible assets by which their brand was promoted, you’ll be much more likely to see continued sponsorship.
5. Show Your Gratitude
In the end, securing and retaining sponsorships is about building an authentic relationship with your corporate partners. A great deal of research has shown that gratitude helps us to initiate, maintain, and strengthen our relationships.
So, don’t forget to show your gratitude!
Post a short video of a volunteer or board member thanking them. Design a virtual thank you and post it to their social media. Send a gift basket.
The point is: Your corporate sponsor believes in your mission. That’s why they’ve invested in your cause. Show them the same level of courtesy and respect by acknowledging that contribution.