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.
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.
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 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:
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].