Building an Effective Sponsorship Program

| August 13, 2018

Are you looking for a way to generate additional revenues for the nonprofit or ministry without going back to your faithful donors? Sponsorships are a great way to bring in additional funds for nonprofits and ministries.

Let’s begin by developing a definition of sponsorship to ensure we are all on the same page.

A sponsorship is a mutually beneficial relationship between a for-profit business and a nonprofit or ministry. By mutually beneficial we mean a relationship that provides a benefit to each party involved. For the organization, the benefit is in the form of cash or in-kind services while for the business, the benefit is in the form of publicity or positive press.

Many organizations begin the process of developing sponsorship opportunities by thinking about what they need, perhaps a specific dollar amount they are seeking to raise. And then, they wonder why they are not able to attract any sponsors. Instead of focusing on the needs of the organization, focus on the needs of the business.

Grants are usually managed by the corporate responsibility department, philanthropic department or community outreach. Sponsorship dollars are usually managed by the marketing department of businesses. When we think about who manages the money, we begin to understand, how it is viewed by the company. The goal of philanthropic gifts to nonprofits and ministries are given to receive good “press” or positive recognition in the community. Money that is given through the marketing department is money that has been set aside for the purpose of creating awareness of the business.

While the differences in the two may seem subtle, they can significantly affect the way funds are given out. Sponsorships are generally distributed through the marketing department.

What does your organization have or what can you give to the business that will be valuable?

Before we get into the logistics of sponsorships, I want you to focus for a moment on who to target for sponsorships.

Make a list of potential sponsors. Because sponsors are seeking publicity or recognition for their contribution to the organization, it is important to think about the message you will be sending if it is perceived that your organization has aligned itself with a business. Do the values of the business align with the mission of the organization, or do they contradict with it? If they contradict with the mission of the organization, a sponsorship is not a good idea…no matter how much money is on the table.

Make a list of businesses who are connected to your board members. Developing sponsorships is a lot like developing individual donors, they are built on relationships. Once you have a list of potential sponsors, review it with board members to see who they are connected with and who they can connect you with.

What products or services do your clients use? Since the goal of for-profit businesses is to make a profit, they are most likely to be interested in sponsoring organizations that serve those who purchase their goods and services. These are a natural fit.

Employers of clients or employers of parents of clients. It is helpful to know who the employers are of those you serve. Businesses have a vested interest in making the community a better place for their employees – it creates a better morale amongst employees and improved work habits. Help businesses to see how the work your organization does makes the community a better place.

Once you have targeted your sponsorship prospects, then you should be Building Your Sponsorship Package.

Identify your audience. Who will be attending your events, seeing your marketing efforts, etc. Also, make note about who your volunteers are. The goal during this step is to identify everyone who has the potential to engage through your sponsorship outreach efforts.

Your Offerings. Get creative as you think about the opportunities for exposure that you can offer in your sponsorship packages. This includes exposure on your website, social media outlets, at the event, etc. Here, you will want to be creative while also being realistic.

Developing a package. Take the time to develop sponsorship packages. Everything that you identified that you could offer a business is now assigned a monetary value. For some of the opportunities, this may be challenging because the offering is intangible. Everything being offered has a monetary value, even the intangibles.

As packages are developed, think about levels of support and what your organization is able to offer in exchange for various amounts of money. All levels should have intangibles included and the business should be able to clearly delineate the value of increasing their sponsorship. This information is often presented in a table format as it is easy to read.

Some organizations find that using catchy names for various sponsorship levels is also helpful, particularly if you are able to tie a level to a meaningful name related to your organizational mission.

Another strategy is to offer potential sponsors a menu of options that can be customized to their particular interests. Think about the menu at your favorite restaurant. You might select an appetizer, an entrée, a side or two and perhaps a dessert. No matter what you select in each of these areas, you will automatically receive a bread basket.

In the same way, your sponsorships can offer all sponsors a basic level of exposure. Then, after you have gone through all of your offerings, allow them to select one item from each category that you have developed. There are several ways to develop these categories; they could be developed according to programs, population served, etc. Again, have your menu build according to the sponsorship level (perhaps at the lowest level, the sponsor doesn’t get to select anything from the “dessert” column). By varying the offerings at each level, businesses may increase their sponsorship simply because there is something they want at the next funding level.

Finally, listen to potential sponsors as to what they want, and structure your offering around what is important to the business.

Targeted sponsor prospects and a viable sponsorship package can build that mutually beneficial relationship that will bring additional funds into the Non-Profit.

Category: Non-Profits

About the Author ()

Email | Website | Deborah DiVirgilio is a Certified Governance Trainer through BoardSource and has more than 20 years of experience in providing nonprofit consulting, grant writing and management services for nonprofits, government agencies and faith-based organizations. She is the owner and principal consultant of The Faith-Based Nonprofit Resource Center (formally known as DiVirgilio & Associates). She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Behavioral Sciences from Wilmington College and a Masters Degree in Non-Profit Management from Regis University, and is Grant Professional certified by the Grant Professional Institute. She has served on the Board of Directors and as an officer of the Grant Professionals Association.