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How to Secure Sponsorship for Your Non-profit

There are corporations that spend a significant amount of money on sponsorships. If you want to be part of this but don’t know how to secure sponsorships, read on.

According to The Independent Evaluation Group (IEG), which is a unit within the World Bank Group, global sponsorship spending grew well over 4 percent in 2018. This includes sponsorships for non-profits.

Sponsorships can be a win-win situation. Non-profits receive financial support and potentially more public recognition, while the corporate sponsor can gain public attention for doing a good deed, which may help the business attract new customers or improve the company’s reputation.

With so much to gain and so many non-profits interested in sponsorships, it can be hard to attract the right corporation. However, before you consider approaching potential sponsors, think about the following:

  • What does your non-profit expect from a sponsor?
  • How would you describe your ideal partner (sponsor)?
  • How can your non-profit leverage a sponsorship?
  • What can your non-profit offer the sponsor?
  • How will you measure the success of a sponsorship?

Once you have addressed the questions outlined above, you can work on your approach to corporations. The following tips, gathered from marketing and sponsorship experts, could help you attract corporate interest.

    1. Don’t just sell your mission; sell promotional value. A sponsor wants to know that there are commercial opportunities associated with the partnership.
    2. Explain how your organization compares to similar ones. Don’t degrade the competition, but compare yourself in a way that establishes your strength and allows you to come up with a unique selling proposition.
    3. Engage in conversation with companies that tend to partner with organizations or activities that have shared interests. For example, if your non-profit is holding a sporting event to raise funds, approach companies that manufacture or sell sports equipment.
    4. Anticipate the sponsor’s needs. You can do this by researching and learning the company’s demographics and business model. This allows you to develop an enticing pitch.
    5. Significant sponsorships should be customized to the sponsor’s specific needs.
    6. Emphasize recognition during discussions with potential sponsors. Let them know that you will acknowledge them in public speeches, in meetings, in media interviews, on social media, and in other forms of advertising.
    7. Lay out the rules so a corporation understands that you value their input. For instance, explain that sponsors are part of the approval process for any collateral featuring their name or logo. Explaining how important it is for them to sign-off on all creative efforts will make them feel as if you really do want to treat this as a partnership.
    8. Create an outline that lays out exactly how the potential sponsor can anticipate visibility. Include their name and/or logo on the mock-up so that it makes it seem more real.
    9. Use social media whenever possible to reach out to potential event sponsors. Using links to previous events that include sponsorship can show corporations how they can be showcased too.

Our digital world makes it possible to share information about corporate sponsors with a wider audience. Lets take the American Diabetes Association as an example. They not only list their sponsors on their website, they provide a link for each sponsor so the public can learn exactly what and how the corporation has contributed. Other non-profits use Facebook, Twitter or even blogging to both solicit, as well as thank sponsors. You can get creative too. Pearl Gloves, an annual charity boxing event in Niagara, Ontario that raises money for MS, features sponsors prominently on their website and social media posts. They refer to the main sponsor as the “Heavy Weight Title Sponsor”.

Organizations that know their audience, conduct aggressive outreach, have regular contact with business people, and have written policies to guide partnerships, tend to be the most successful at securing sponsorships.

If you feel as if you have done everything right, but you still don’t get a positive response from a particular corporation, don’t give up. When you truly believe a certain company would be a good fit, maintain contact and cultivate the relationship. Often times, what is a “No” right now, can turn into a “Yes” at some point down the road.

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