Sponsorship+ An Interview with Ecclesiastical Insurance

Sponsorship is not a gift – it’s a business transaction. Companies offer sponsorships that support causes they identify with [youth, healthcare], allow them access to a target audience, or because they want to be seen to be supporting an organization.

Your Fundamentals


Finding Sponsors

Finding the sponsor that is a good fit with the work you do is a matter of research. There are subscription research services but the internet is a good source and it’s free. Most companies post information about the types of activities or events they sponsor on their websites.

To narrow down your search look at organizations similar to yours and see what companies sponsor them. Start with corporations that have headquarters or branches in your community. Look at local small businesses. Canvass your lead volunteers for companies they have connections to.

Sponsorship Benefits

Before you approach a potential sponsor think about what benefits you have to offer – naming opportunities, recognition on your website, mentions in social media. Remember that the benefits you offer should be proportionate to the value of the sponsorship. Once you create a list of your potential benefits you can tailor packages according to sponsors’ needs.

Not all sponsorships are about cash. Some companies find it easier to provide product. In-kind sponsorships can help your bottom-line i.e. a building company may provide construction materials. Some companies are interested in opportunities to engage their employees so look for ways to do that with your project.

The Sponsorship Ask

The best approach is to secure an introductory meeting. This is your chance to understand your sponsor’s priorities, introduce your organization and discuss your project.

Plan for a thirty minute meeting. Avoid using a power point presentation. The time you spend setting that up is time you lose making a personal connection to the sponsor. Bring visuals or a brief printed deck to present your project.

Be prepared to answer questions. Be flexible and willing to work with sponsors to craft a benefit package that addresses their needs.

Once you’ve had introductory meeting, you will be ready to write your proposal.

Companies receive thousands of requests for sponsorships so think about how yours can stand out in the crowd. It should be short – no longer than three pages – visual and to the point. Use photos and text boxes to tell your story. Write in business language – address key points and use bullet points to break up text. Here are four key points your proposal should cover:

  • Who you are [about your organization and its mission]
  • What the sponsorship opportunity is [about your project and what it will achieve]
  • Why the company is a good fit [your chance to show you’ve done your research]
  • How the company will benefit [list of your sponsorship benefits]

Some of this information will be repeated from your meeting, but remember that your proposal is likely to be circulated to other levels in the company.

Proposals should be customized for each potential sponsor. If research tells you the company supports youth at risk, focus the proposal on elements of your project that address that i.e. opportunities for youth to be involved in the project or to benefit from its outcomes.

Companies are interested in brand recognition so include information about the demographics of the audience they will reach, your social media reach [how many Facebook & Twitter followers you have], and statistics about your website [how many visitors, how long they stay].

Interview


Colin Robertson joined the Canadian team of Ecclesiastical Insurance in 2008. Colin has over 20 years of exper­i­ence in man­age­ment, under­writ­ing, risk con­trol and busi­ness devel­op­ment. As Vice President Operations & Risk Control, at Ecclesiastical, Colin is accountable for and leads Ecclesiastical Insurance’s marketing and regional operations Canada-wide.

In December 2016, Alison Faulknor, Director of New Initiatives at National Trust for Canada had the opportunity to sit down with Colin and learn about his experience as a sponsor.

01. (AF) Can you tell us how a company views the difference between ‘sponsorship’ versus ‘philanthropy?’

(CR) We’re actually owned by a charitable Trust, whereas Ecclesiastical is for- profit. [Ecclesiastical] looks at sponsorship decisions so it would make sense for us as a business. But our parent company would typically regenerate funds through grants back into the community that we serve. So that’s more philanthropic than us. We would be more business! We want to support our customers and our prospective customers, so it’s more of a ‘win-win’ type of a situation. As a relatively small financial services operation in Canada, given our modest size, our aim is to be as supportive to as many people so o as many people as we can which means small sponsorships but ongoing sponsorships.

02. (AF)What advice would you give an organization, preparing a sponsorship proposal? Are there approaches that you’ve seen that have really excited you or approaches that turned you off?

(CR) Oh…that’s a good question! I think you have to have a sound business case, a sound proposal and I think that proposal has to resonate with the sponsor.  Because they’re only going to sponsor you if it makes sense for them.  So I guess it depends what you’re looking to do and what the projects are. And I think rather than being like a terrier….chip…chip…chip away…it is better to have one good presentation. You also have to know who to talk to. You have to get to the right people.  And also don’t ask for one hundred thousand if the sponsor is really only going to be up for ten thousand!

03. (AF) Do you have any advice for organizations who are trying to build a long term or more sustained relationship with a sponsor?

(CR) Yeah, I think there has to be some kind of collaboration, some kind of a ‘win-win.’ I think there has to be an affinity as well.  So, if you want a long-term partner, then that partner has to have some kind of engagement with the organization or the fundraising and maybe they’re going to be involved afterwards as well.

04. (AF) Why do you think it’s important that we, not only save historic places, but that we renew historic places in the country?

(CR) Well I think that the past informs the future, so people have a connection. People want to know where they came from because it helps them to know where they’re going.  You can’t save everything but it’s important that key buildings or key monuments or key areas are kept and sustained for the future.  Because we’re the only custodians in a space of time and you want to pass that on to future generations.  Canada is 150 years next year so it’s important that in another 150 years’ time, there are things that we can pass on to the future generations.  It’s so important!

05. (AF) Perfect, thank you Colin!

Before You Start – Ask Yourself

01

What kinds of sponsors are a good fit for your project?

02

What benefits do you have to offer a sponsor?

03

How you will maintain a relationship with your sponsors until renewal time?