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Want More Corporate Sponsorships? Follow These 3 Steps

Author: Artie Shlykov
April 7, 2019
🕑 4 min read

This is a guest blog post by Renee Zau, co-founder of DonationMatch.


Here’s an all-too-common scenario.

You work at an amazing nonprofit organization.

You find a company whose values align perfectly with yours.

And you know if you just had the opportunity to sit down and talk to them, they would agree.

Visions of an amazing future collaboration dance through your mind.

But there’s just one problem.

How do you get that meeting?

First impressions can make or break your corporate sponsorship solicitation — I’ve worked with many corporate donors in the past, and I’m here to help you do it right.

Here are three tips to help you get your foot in the door and on your way to sponsorship success.

1. Do Your Research

At DonationMatch, I’ve worked with over 200 corporate donors.

Their biggest pet peeve? Not reading their charitable guidelines before submitting a request.

Many of these companies choose DonationMatch because our platform screens organizations for them. They know that every request they see already matches their criteria. Whether you’re seeking an in-kind contribution or monetary support, make sure to do your homework before reaching out.

Expert Tip: So their corporate foundation doesn’t sponsor events… but they are such a good fit! Try reaching out to their marketing department. There are several free apps such as Hunter that can help you find the direct contact email of CMOs, who usually have more flexibility in their budget allocations than their philanthropic counterparts. Be prepared to make a compelling case for why your event has better ROI than traditional advertising.


Read More: Everything you Need to Know About Virtual Sponsorship for Nonprofits

Click through to claim your 60-day trial of WildApricot to create effective QR codes that will speed up event check-in.

2. Make It Short and Sweet

As a nonprofit professional, you know that time is money — and it’s no different in the for-profit sector. Company decision makers don’t want to search through lengthy sponsorship letters.

To help them out, try using bullet points for key information, including:

  • Specific programs or services that your organization provides

  • Event details, such as number of expected guests and planned activities

  • Benefits of sponsorship

  • Past and current sponsors (some companies are more likely to give to organizations that have secured other reputable donors)


Expert Tip: Don’t be afraid to put a direct ask into the first few lines of your request. However, your appeal should be specific and targeted. Consider which opportunities provide the most benefits to the company. Perhaps ask a beverage company to sponsor your cocktail hour or an automaker to underwrite valet.

3. Send Your Solicitation Letter This Way Instead

Sponsorship Letter Banner 

You’ve put together a lovely note on letterhead with a beautifully printed sponsorship deck. You send it off in the mail… only to have it returned to you several weeks later.

Not only have you wasted paper and money, but also our good friend time (see above). The truth is, many large corporations will not accept a package if the recipient is not expecting it. Sending your corporate sponsorship proposal electronically may feel informal, but it is the most efficient way to go.

That being said, your email should still be polished. Optimize your deck so that the images are high quality, but the file size is small enough to attach to an email.

Expert Tip: It’s easy to clutter your letter and deck with too much information. We get it — your organization does amazing work and you want to share that with potential sponsors! One of the added benefits of sending your sponsorship solicitation via email is that you can include external hyperlinks. This way, companies can easily learn more about your organization if they want to. Event websites, sizzle reels, and photo galleries form previous years make great links. Remember to check that your links are still live on your letter PDF and/or pitch deck.

I understand that reaching out to large companies can be daunting.

But remember, you have more power than you think.

According to the 2018 Porter Novelli/Cone Purpose Premium Index, “Americans prioritize companies that are responsible (86%), caring (85%), advocate for issues (81%), protect the environment (79%), and give back to important causes (73%).”

This means that it’s not only in your best interests to work with corporate sponsors; it’s also in theirs.

I hope these guidelines have made the sponsorship process a little less scary for you. Now, go out and get ’em!


Additional Resources:


corporate sponsorshipRenee started serving on fundraising committees nearly 20 years ago. All too familiar with the arduous process of securing auction donations and marketing benefits, she co-founded DonationMatch, a self-service platform that streamlines how donor companies and nonprofit organizations connect.


A native Californian, Renee resides in San Diego and is actively involved with local organizations like San Diego Social Venture Partners. In addition to running DonationMatch, Renee co-hosts the podcast Events with Benefits and serves as Outreach Director for San Diego AMA’s Cause Conference.

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