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Ready To Start Building Sponsor Partnerships?

Lori Halley 17 December 2014 0 comments

Is your non-profit or association taking advantage of sponsorship, or is the word "sponsor" seen as a dirty word?

In one of our Small Membership Advisory sessions, we heard both sides of the sponsorship story. One association volunteer told us that his board would not entertain any sponsorships. In fact, he noted that sponsorship was almost a “dirty word” in their minds. On the other end of the spectrum, another participant told us that her not-for-profit had built strong year-round relationships with businesses that wanted access to their unique membership base and were willing to fund the organization and its programs since it was mutually beneficial.

Expert advice on sponsorship from Joe Waters

Since sponsorship funding can help non-profits meet their missions and offer up terrific non-dues revenue to membership organizations, I went looking for sponsorship advice to share with our community. I started by reaching out to Joe Waters (Selfish Giving). Joe literally wrote the book (well actually two books) about cause marketing.

In his most recent book, Fundraising With Businesses, Joe advises non-profits to stop limiting your thinking to “finding sponsors” but instead, start thinking in terms of developing partnerships with businesses.

But while Joe’s books focus on non-profits, I realized that much of his advice also applies to  other member-based organizations, such as associations, clubs, chambers – any organization looking to raise funds or find sources of non-dues revenue to meet your mission. So we asked Joe to write an article for our Membership Knowledge Hub that would help non-profits as well as membership-based organizations get started building relationships with businesses.

What is sponsorship?

Joe starts the article by reminding us what sponsorship is:

Sponsorship is when a company commits money or resources to a nonprofit event or program in exchange for specific promotional benefits.

At its core, sponsorship is an exchange of money for services.   

In exchange for supporting the nonprofit, the company gets their name and logo on a banner, t-shirt, poster, brochure or other kinds of marketing and communications related to the event or program.

The business objective of sponsorship is to reach a specific target audience and to earn a “halo” for supporting a good cause. The favorability sponsorship delivers can give a business a competitive edge that goes beyond product and price. Increasingly, businesses of all sizes are striving to balance profit with purpose through sponsorship and other socially responsible marketing.

Sponsorship is win-win and work-work. Both the nonprofit and for-profit benefit from the partnership, but success depends on them working together to ensure each other’s success.

But the article goes beyond definitions, it helps us understand:

  • What exactly sponsorship is and how it differs from other kinds of giving.
  • How to look within your organization for opportunity and prospects - instead of blindly chasing random prospects.
  • How to identify, track and communicate with prospects by phone and email.
  • How to speak effectively without letting your nerves get the best of you.

Great tips and insight to help you “close the deal”

In addition, Joe offers tips on closing the deal and landing that new sponsor. One, that is particularly important is:

Build all your sponsorship packages a la carte. Don’t walk in with one sponsorship option for them to approve or deny. Build all your sponsorship packages from the ground-up, swapping things in and out based on the prospect’s needs, interests and budget.

It’s important to be, as Joe suggests, “prospect-centric” and adjust your messaging to meet each sponsor’s needs. This is particularly important  for associations trying to entice businesses that want to market to your members. You need to build a business case and customize the value proposition to each of your sponsors in order to build long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with sponsors.

Read the entire article

We’re thrilled that Joe offered up this article for our Membership Knowledge Hub – packed with information, insight and tips – and hope you’ll check it out:

Getting Started Building Sponsor Partnerships

Our thanks to Joe Waters for his helpful advice and insight.

Image source:  Sponsors Welcome – courtesy of BigStockPhoto.com

Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Wednesday, 17 December 2014 at 8:30 AM
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