5 Steps to Acquiring Corporate Sponsorships

Three people discussing corporate sponsorship opportunities for a nonprofit organization.

Corporate sponsorship is a form of marketing that involves companies making financial contributions to nonprofit organizations to help them fund events or projects. These companies provide funds in exchange for their name being associated with the event or project, as well as other benefits the nonprofit may wish to offer them. Sponsorships can build positive…

Corporate sponsorship is a form of marketing that involves companies making financial contributions to nonprofit organizations to help them fund events or projects. These companies provide funds in exchange for their name being associated with the event or project, as well as other benefits the nonprofit may wish to offer them. Sponsorships can build positive publicity and increase sales for businesses while helping nonprofits cover program or event costs so more of the dollars raised will directly benefit their mission.

Raising Money for Nonprofits

It’s no secret that nonprofits need money, and corporate sponsorships can be a great source for larger gifts. Many businesses are open to the idea of sponsoring events held by nonprofits, but the nonprofit organization needs to take the initiative and reach out to prospective sponsors. Here are five steps to guide you through the process of acquiring sponsorships:

Step 1: Know your organization and its platform

It is important to know what your nonprofit stands for and what it is trying to achieve. The companies from which you are seeking sponsorships will want to know who and what they will be supporting. Companies seek to support organizations that fit with their own values. If you are trying to find someone to sponsor an event, make sure the event has an explicit goal and target population. Who are you trying to help, and how are you trying to help them?

Step 2: Learn about your prospects

Research companies whose values align with those of your nonprofit and event, then look for natural intersections of interests and target audiences. Does the company sell to or want to sell to those who care about some aspect of your mission? Make a list of the companies that match your nonprofit’s values and whose target market(s) may overlap with your donors, volunteers or other constituencies. Once you have decided which companies you would like to approach, do further research to find out who would be the best contact person at each company. It is typically best to contact the marketing department, but some businesses have different departments better suited for handling sponsorship requests. Work with your board members and key staff to leverage any existing connections with the company’s leadership that can boost your chances of proposing and landing a sponsorship commitment. Through your research, you must also figure out how you think the potential sponsor would like to benefit from sponsorship. What does the company need in return?

Step 3: Come up with benefits

Corporate sponsors want something in return for their financial contributions. It is up to the nonprofit hosting the event to decide what benefits they should offer their sponsors. Higher level benefits packages should be unique to each company you are approaching. Different companies need and want different things. Use the research you have conducted about each company to come up with benefits your nonprofit can provide each of them. Think beyond name/logo placement to options for boosting your sponsors’ marketing efforts, and make sure that the scope and degree of potential marketing impact are reflected in your package pricing. Two important tips for helping create real differentiation of benefits are to restrict sponsored or earned media promotion opportunities to top sponsors and avoid creating “logo soup” on T-shirts or banners. The in-kind media sponsorship and potential coverage exposure available to you as a nonprofit are among the most valuable assets you can offer exclusively to your largest cash sponsor(s). Likewise, make logo visibility and placement on promotional items and signage commensurate with sponsorship levels. Your $25,000 sponsor should not have to work to find their logo among those who may have paid $500 for a sample and couponing opportunity.

Step 4: Write a proposal

Each proposal should be unique to the company for which you are writing it. Once you have decided on the benefits packages you want to offer a company, start writing the proposal. You should start the proposal with a story about who your nonprofit is and what it stands for. Why do you do what you do? How do you change lives? Your proposal will be much more compelling if it can elicit an emotional connection. Then provide details about the event for which you are seeking sponsorship,  explain where your target markets intersect, and what benefits you are willing to offer. A company will not consider a sponsorship unless they think the benefits are worthwhile. Finally, ask for money. The money is the main reason you are seeking sponsorship, so make sure you ask for an amount that reflects the marketing benefits and community goodwill you are offering. Too often organizations undervalue themselves by asking for too little. And while you should consider the size and resources of each company to prioritize your largest asks, but don’t go too far in making purchasing decisions for a sponsor before you’ve even asked.

Step 5. Follow up

It is crucial that you follow up after submitting a proposal. If you do not hear from a company after giving them your proposal, call them. Persistence is key when trying to secure sponsorships. Business leaders are busy, and they can often forget or overlook a proposal after receiving it. Remind them that you are seeking sponsorship from them. Also, following up with a potential sponsor can lay the foundation for a long-term relationship. If the company sees that you are hardworking and easy to work with, it may decide to continue sponsoring and supporting your nonprofit in the future.

Step 6. Honor and thank

One sure way to position yourself for repeat sponsorships is to honor your commitment by delivering on all promised benefits. Thank all your sponsors in a meaningful way that reflects the size of their financial commitment. And be sure to share with them the impact of their participation—how and how much of a difference they have helped you make in the community and the world.

Nonprofit Consulting Service in East Tennessee

Acquiring corporate sponsorships is an important process for maintaining a successful nonprofit. If your nonprofit has been struggling to raise money to fund its events, try reaching out to companies for corporate sponsorships. Redbird Strategic Resources offers consulting services to help you reach your fundraising goals. Call us at 865-212-4867 or visit us online to find out more.