One of the biggest challenges that nonprofit organizations face when it comes to recruiting potential sponsors is that they are under-resourced to do the work. In fact, many of these organizations rely solely on volunteers to sustain the organization’s activities. The problem is that there is probably not a CEO in the entire country who wakes up in the morning and says, “I think I’ll sponsor a nonprofit today.” If your organization is looking for new partners, you’ll have to do the “heavy lifting” to get sponsors on board.
Today’s corporate sponsorship environment is vastly different from ten years ago. The days of dishing out money for a logo and a banner are long gone. Companies today are focused on opportunities that build their core business, want more direct engagement with audiences (for example in-person or through social media), and want to measure results.
My advice to any organization that is resource-challenged is this: do it smarter. Here are three steps that will save you an incredible amount of time:
Step 1: Understand the Opportunity You Are Offering
The most important step is to identify what you have to offer a potential sponsor. Is it access to a desirable and difficult-to-reach audience? Does your organization offer a unique opportunity for value alignment? Is there an opportunity for a company to build employee morale or synergy by engaging its employees in worthwhile community work?
Companies are now looking to attach their names to initiatives that align with their core business and build customer loyalty. Before anything else, you need to understand the distinct value that you bring to the table.
Step 2: Be Selective in Your Approach
Once you understand your value proposition, you’re ready to start identifying companies that represent a good fit for your organization (and sponsorship opportunity). Nonprofit organizations waste considerable amounts of time trying to recruit companies that have no connection to the cause or organization. As a result, many get frustrated by the lack of response.
Companies are spending more money today than ever on sponsorship marketing, but they just don’t want to be another logo on a brochure. You need to start cultivating legitimate business relationships that make sense for your organization, the companies you are approaching, and most importantly, your customers.
Step 3: Have a Legitimate Reason for Calling
A properly executed Step 1 and 2 will make the third step easy. When you contact someone, you need a good reason for calling. How many times have you been bothered by telemarketers? What is your typical reaction? Without proper planning, you might as well say, “I’m calling because I’m guessing that you might be interested in what we have to offer.”
Wouldn’t you rather hear, “I saw your news release that discussed your commitment to the environment, and I’m calling because we have an opportunity for you to turn that commitment into action.” Or, stated differently, “I read in the paper that you’re launching a new product to the youth market and we have access to 50% of that audience.”
Follow these steps, and you’ll not only make better use of your time – your success rate will improve significantly!