This is the first post in a 3 part series on nonprofit corporate sponsorships. In each post, I will look at 3 questions you will face if you are considering sponsorships and the answers to those questions.
1. What are nonprofit corporate sponsorships and why should I pursue them for my organization?
It’s important to clear this up from the start. We are not talking about the Gold, Silver, and Bronze table sponsors at your next gala. That’s philanthropy. The sponsor gets almost nothing in return for their money, as much as you want to think otherwise. The dollars for table sponsorships come from a company’s philanthropy budget. That’s nice money to have, but we are talking about a much bigger investment on par with a major gift.
Are you like most fundraisers who wish you had your marketing department’s budget? Actually, you can have that budget, but that’s another post or three. We are talking about accessing corporate marketing budgets through corporate sponsorships. Think stadium naming rights and you will be in the wheelhouse. Compare any company’s philanthropy budget to their marketing budget and you’ll begin to see why this is important.
Corporate sponsorship of your organization or some aspect of your organization is a marketing decision on the part of both the sponsor and your organization. It needs to be treated as such throughout the entire relationship in order to be successful. Sponsorships are marketing not philanthropy. It’s a two-way street where you give to the sponsor in exchange for their investment. The sponsor will expect a return on their investment. You’re not asking for a gift. You’re entering a business relationship where both parties win. The payoff for the sponsor is a marketing win that impacts their bottom line. The payoff for you is greater revenue and more.
2. Am I selling my organization’s soul just to get a sponsorship?
Maybe. Sponsorships aren’t more complicated than philanthropy, but they are very different. If you don’t have all of your ducks in a row and your eyes wide open, you could end up on the wrong side of a one-way relationship.
What you need in nonprofit corporate sponsorships are symbiotic relationships — one where both parties benefit because you obviously belong together. This is often referred to as the Halo Effect. Both parties benefit by being seen together and exponentially extend their community standing and reach (the number of people who know about you).
3. Why should I pursue sponsorships when I can be pursuing major gifts?
Good question. The answer is to think in terms of checks instead of check. A sponsorship is a marketing relationship that is defined by specific efforts over a period of time. As a result of successfully completing the efforts you will receive sponsorship funds at predetermined intervals during the time period. So, yes, you should pursue major gifts, but you should also pursue corporate sponsorships for the large, predictable revenue that they provide the same way that you pursue grants for predictable income.
In summary, nonprofit corporate sponsorships are marketing relationships where both parties benefit from the symbiotic relationship of promoting one another and the resulting impact it has on each party’s bottom line. It is a business relationship that needs to be structured, marketed, sold, and delivered by your organization to a company that has an obvious connection to your cause.
In my next post I will go over three things you should consider before pursuing nonprofit corporate sponsorships. Find out if you are ready to take this on and be successful.