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Nonprofit: Showing sponsors the bang for their buck
We’ve all been there, pitching a sponsorship opportunity to a potential partner—we go down the list of benefits—how their investment supports your cause, what their contribution can do for the community, how many individual people are affected, etc. But often, they also want to know, “What’s in it for me?”We frequently pitch sponsorship opportunities to donors without ever really describing their full value. Although many businesses are community-minded and philanthropic, sponsorships are still a business decision. So next time, ask not what your sponsor can do for you, but what you can do for your sponsor.Conveying value in sponsorships
Sponsoring your event isn’t going to be for everyone. When preparing your pitch, you need to do your homework. Pitching a company with little or no ties to your cause is likely a waste of time and resources. Here are some considerations:

  • Conduct your due diligence: Do your research; come armed knowing the demographics of your potential sponsor’s target market and provide supporting data on who attends your event and for what reasons. Questions to consider include: Do your cultures mesh? Are your brands compatible? And do you offer something of interest to the demographic of your potential sponsor? A sponsor and event should be well-matched—think of what event attendees are interested in and approach companies with a similar focus. If your event is a fun-run, for instance, the local running shoe store or health food shop is likely a good fit for sponsorship.
  • Provide value: Remember, a sponsorship is not a one-sided deal; rather it should be viewed as a mutually beneficial partnership. Promote cross-selling opportunities—perhaps sponsors can provide a discount on their products or services to event participants. Include a coupon in a co-branded loot bag; this can be a great way to generate new sales for your sponsor. Don’t forget to be consultative in your approach—if pitching to that shoe store or health food shop, suggest ways to promote their brand that also tie in with the event like a logo’d sports bottle or shoe pedometer, or a salad shaker or yogurt-to-go cup as takeaways for event participants.
  • Offer tiered opportunities: Be prepared to offer multiple levels of sponsorship to prospects and clearly outline what’s in it for them at each level. Although banners, logos and mentions are important, they don’t automatically win you sponsorships. Perhaps, a promise of exclusivity would be attractive to your donor. Offer to allow only one financial institution at a defined level of sponsorship, for example. Make sure you leave your prospect with a detailed summary of the partnership opportunities available—and remember to send a thank you after.
  • Promote engagement: When looking for a sponsor, don’t just ask for a cheque. Ask for support in the form of involvement. A company that is engaged with you and your brand is more likely to remember you next year. Perhaps offer sponsors the opportunity to welcome and greet guests at the event or encourage them to volunteer with your organization as a team building project.

Getting the support of sponsors isn’t easy. Remember, you need to pitch to companies whose brands fit with yours. Show them the true value they get for their dollar; it just may be the ticket to a lifelong partnership.

“5 ways to assign worth to your brand.” The NonProfit Times. N.p., 12 May 2011. Web. Retrieved 14 Sept. 2013.

Haden, Jeff. “Sponsoring an Event? Tips to Maximize Your Return.” Inc.com. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 14 Sept. 2013.

Flandez, Raymund. “How to Attract Event Sponsors.” Prospecting. N.p., 16 June 2011. Web. Retrieved 14 Sept. 2013.

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