Although corporations only provide about 10-15% of overall charitable donations, sponsorship and partnership continue to the one of the top agenda items for many nonprofits.
Below are 5 things you can do before you ask a company to provide funds for your work.
- Your goal is to support and promote your mission and organization.
- Their goal is to be profitable and provide good returns for the stock and stakeholders.
- How can these two goals overlap to create a strong partnership that satisfies both of your needs?
One: The More You Prepare, The Luckier You Will Get.
You have taken the time to identify this company as a potential sponsor. Now take the time to learn about them, do some homework about them.
- What do they do?
- How big are they?
- Why did you choose to solicit them; why would they be a good choice?
- Has their business or industry been in the news lately? What’s going on?
- How can what you do complement what they do?
Showing informed interest in them, beyond their capacity to give, is important. Make it easy for them to understand your professionalism, your preparation and your pitch. Approaching a for -profit company with an understanding of their needs and goals can help them align with you and your nonprofit’s goals.
Two: We’re In This Together
Approaching companies and corporations with the concept that you both want similar things: a partnership rather than a handout. You have to offer more than altruism and feel-good generosity to create a good business relationship. What can you offer that is line line with their goals?
Rather than just asking, you can come with an offer.
I frequently run into folks who assume that because their cause is important, even urgent, that support will be easier to acquire. Unfortunately this is not the case. There is huge competition for sponsor dollars and great pressure on those who decide where to put corporate funds on showing a strong ROI (return on investment) for that choice.
- How can you structure your ask to pay attention to the needs of your prospective partner? It has to be more creative than ‘we will put your logo on our website’.
- One way maybe to ask them what it is that they might want or need to work with you.
- If you can make it work for them, there is a much better chance they will find a way to work with you.
- Come up with a few suggestions of what your nonprofit can do their behalf.
Three: What Can You Offer?
There is a reason there are 31 Flavors at Baskin Robbins- not everyone wants at triple cone of Jamoca Almond Fudge.
What is on your 31 flavors list?
- Offer a speaking engagement opportunity
- Offer an endorsement of your org’s to something they provide or do
- Offer them an exclusive opportunity
- Offer to host their staff to work with you on employee volunteer days
- Announce them as sponsors at all your org’s events, not just the one you are soliciting for.
- What else do you have that might be a really good match for what they need and what you have to offer – be creative, you have more than you think!
Four: Let’s Talk Numbers
How do you present these great ideas to a company? The bottom line is always going to be money and their perception of a fair exchange. Be brutally honest about exactly what your offers could be worth. If your mailing list is not in the thousands, offering to do a sponsored email for a lot of money is not going to fly.
Assigning a dollar value to intangibles is tough, however it is critical. FInd some comparisons and see where your opportunity lands price-wise. Don’t give things away too cheaply, don’t fake it and don’t bundle offers into the standard friend- donor -sponsor sponsorship packages. Be like the airlines, unbundle the sections, that way you can create more opportunities at different price ranges that give your sponsor better choice.
Five: One from Column A, One from Column B
It can be hard to know what a company needs or wants from a partnership from you, above a table for 10 and verbal acknowledgement from the podium. Once you have come up with options, and have valued or priced ( not always the same thing!) them accordingly, ask.
Ask them what seems attractive, and what does not. How can you respond and what can you put together to create value for them and support for yourself?
Maybe there is something they have in mind that you have not thought of yet, by asking and opening that conversation, you may be able to contrive a novel package that works fantastically for you both.
What they ask about and for can you have a window into their needs and values and can help as you plan to work with them, or with others.
The Bottom Line:
It does feel good to have corporate interest and support: it can give you some greater visibility, it can provide confidence for other potential partners and add much needed cash or services. Use your time wisely to prepare and pursue those dollars. While sometimes you can get lucky and receive support on your first try, many times that will not happen. Use this opportunity to ask they what would have liked to have seen and heard to consider your proposal positively.
We all know that development and fundraising is hard, takes time and we hear no all too frequently. Make it easy for your prospect to say yes by anticipating what they need to know about you and how working with you is more than feel-good, its makes sense.
Good luck- do let me know if there is anyway we can help you prepare to secure that support.
image credit: www.andertoons.com