The drive to secure sponsors for your fundraising event is often a major part of the organisation process. Fundraising sponsorship not only provides important financial support, it can be an effective marketing channel for the charity/non-profit and associated events. Persuading potential sponsors may involve many hours of phone calls, in-person meetings and (inevitably) a few rejections. With most charities and non-profits operating on limited staff and budget, this can eat into valuable administration time. Here's how you can run an effective sponsorship drive that delivers great returns on your time and effort:
While you may be itching to get out in the field, doing your research first will help you target the businesses that are most likely to say 'yes'. If your fundraiser is small and local (e.g. school fundraiser), look to local companies who are more likely to want to give back to their community and raise their profile at the same time. Businesses with a direct connection to your organisation should be your first port of call. Does the cafÃ© owner have children at your school? Is the local pharmacist a member of your rowing club? People and businesses with an emotional connection to your cause are much more likely to agree to sponsorship opportunities. For larger fundraising events with a significant local or national profile (think city or nationwide) alignment with media networks, major brands and high profile personalities will give your cause and event great coverage. People and businesses who have a personal connection with your cause (e.g. a renowned passion for environment) should be your first port of call.
You'll be surprised about how well connected you are! Employees, fellow school parents, friends etc may have links to potential sponsorship sources. This could be someone who handles corporate sponsorship within an organisation or a business leader/owner who's looking for sponsorship opportunities. Spread the word across your networks. A chat over coffee or a shout out over social media could give you the contacts you're looking for to secure sponsors.
Advertising is expensive so enlist a media sponsor to help create buzz around your cause. Local newspaper and radio stations are always keen to champion local issues and events. Their presence at your event or coverage in outdoor advertising is a good opportunity for them to tell the community about your great work and receive - advertising in return.
Your sponsorship package should include a list of the benefits sponsors receive by partnering with your event. This could include connections to potential customers, VIP access, advertising, signage and brand promotion. While sponsors will have your cause at heart, business benefits make the partnership a mutually positive venture.
While you can have a base sponsorship template, build in flexibility so you can offer custom sponsorship packages that reflect each individual prospect. Think about the prospect's brand and business objectives.Â For example, if you want to target a health food company to sponsor your fundraising marathon, provide them with an on-site area for people to sample their food and obtain vouchers to buy their product at a later date. You could also offer complimentary entry to the run for a number of employees, thus giving an option for branded outfits and company promotion.
The easiest way to secure sponsors is to find ones who are keen to support your event year on year. Treat your sponsor relationship like any other important partnership. Make regular (but not too frequent) contact to see how they are and if there are any promotional opportunities you can help with. Understand their sponsorship priorities and keep track of changes. Just because they are focused on promoting a particular product one year doesn't mean it will be their priority the following year. Change your sponsorship proposition accordingly and try to anticipate what they might need at event time.
Show your appreciation by sending thank you letters and communications to your sponsors. Let them know how successful the event was and the importance of their contribution. How much money was raised? How will those funds specifically help to make a difference? Include event photos, highlights and press coverage. Don't limit communication to immediately post event. Send a progress report a few months after the event to show how the funds are being used and to keep your organisation front and centre of sponsors' minds.