When it comes to finding corporate sponsors, trends are shifting. Where it once used to be enough to sell companies on supporting a good cause, today, organizations that are successful are structuring sponsorships as a business deal. What does this mean? Success ultimately relies on a perceived return on investment.
Ready to transition from handout to handshake? Here's how to go about it:
Find the Low Hanging Fruit
Your existing network is your best tool for discovering potential partnerships. Once you've identified companies and/or verticals that you feel match well with your organization's goals, check LinkedIn to see who from your network is connected to your targets. The platform makes it easy to request an introduction. Also, put out the word to your everyday contacts. Board members, employees, volunteers, fans on social media -- they're all potential leads to the person (or people) you want to meet. Lastly, when networking, start to expand upon the base of people with whom you regularly interact. Building new relationships can help you gain entry to new potential targets.
Know Your Competition
Are there other organizations similar to you that are securing corporate sponsorships? Learn more about them. What are their core values? Their key relationships? Marketing tactics? How long do they spend going after donors? How do they target them? Your competition will often provide your best source of market research.
Understand Your Audience
Your potential sponsors are gearing their marketing and advertising efforts towards identified target audiences. To demonstrate relevance, arm yourself with key demographic data about your fan base, donors, and volunteers. Where do they live? What do they do for a living? What do they like to buy? How old are they? By illustrating the opportunity your organization provides to put sponsors in front of their target, you prove that your event provides value beyond your social good.
Do Your Homework
When approaching a prospective sponsor, make sure you've done your research on them. Where have they donated in the past? What does their CEO stand for? Where does it seem that they're investing their marketing dollars? What philanthropic activities are their competitors taking part in? The more you know, the better equipped you will be to offer them a package of value.
Show the Right Perspective
During your first conversation, make sure to inquire about their current company goals... are they looking for greater brand awareness? Hoping to engage their employees? Looking for a tax write-off? Wishing to reward their board members? Using the insights you gain, you can create a custom sponsorship package that aligns with their overarching goals. As a result, they will walk away with an understanding that sponsorship is a sound investment.