by Nhanci Wright, Fundraising Advisor, National Trust for Canada
Last week, I had the opportunity to discuss new approaches to raising funds with non-profit staff and heritage advocates in Regina, Saskatchewan. I told the group that heritage fundraisers can play the sponsorship game with the best of them. Granted, we face a few obstacles.
Heritage competes for 28% of the Canadian sponsorship market going up against universities, medical research, and high profile arts organizations in the “causes and arts” category. But that’s no different from the philanthropy picture where we are included in the “arts & culture” category and compete against organizations like ballet companies, orchestras, and art galleries for 3% of the money donated each year in Canada. And many of us are new to the sponsorship game.
But it’s not all “doom and gloom”. In heritage we have great stories to tell. It’s just that we need to be very clever and strategic about how we tell them and who we tell them to.
There’s a technical term we use in fundraising – don’t throw spaghetti at the wall. It means do your research, target sponsors who are a good fit for you, and tailor your proposal to what they are looking for. Look for businesses in your area and corporations that are headquartered or have branches in your community. Visit your prospects’ corporate websites or look at their social media feed. Take a look at the types of organizations and activities they have sponsored in the past. You’ll get a good sense of what matters to them and what kind of opportunities they are looking for.
Remember that when we talk to people in the business world we need to speak their language. In heritage we are doing great things saving places that matter. But we are also spurring economic renewal in our communities, and creating jobs and spaces for people to live, work and play.
These are great story angles to think about when you’re creating opportunities for sponsors to be part of your heritage story.
There’s a great interview with Colin Robertson of Ecclesiastical Insurance, one of the National Trust’s sponsors, on our Regeneration Works site. Colin shares his experiences as a sponsor and it’s a unique opportunity to get the perspective from the other side of the fence. I hope you’ll check it out!
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.
Everyone loves a story – and heritage places have stories to tell. The story of your heritage place is a crucial piece of your fundraising plan. It will carry over to all your materials [flyers, website, e-mails, and donor appeals]. Telling it in a compelling, emotional, engaging and inspiring way will win you donors.
Grants are simply funds provided by a granting organization, such as public, private or corporate foundation or a government department. Grants can be an excellent source of funding for capital improvements and to seed or grow a special initiative. It is, however, a competitive market. Funders are approached by many organizations doing great work. You need to prove that your project will generate lasting, positive change in your community.