How To Get a Corporate Sponsorship for Your Nonprofit
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When it comes to funding, the best way to prepare for the unexpected is to expect it.?
A corporate sponsor is a great way to diversify your income sources, protecting your organization during uncertain economic times. While you may rely on donors for financial support, adding a corporate sponsorship to your funding mix gives you a reliable source of income at times where your donors may withdraw their support.?
Plus: a corporate sponsorship can add credibility to your nonprofit and broaden your reach.?
But how do you get a corporate sponsor? You'll be surprised: it's not as hard as it may seem.
In this article, we'll cover the benefits of a corporate sponsorship, how to secure one and what your organization's corporate sponsorship plan can look like.
What is corporate sponsorship?
A corporate sponsorship is an agreement and mutually beneficial relationship between a for-profit and a nonprofit, where the for-profit gives in-kind or monetary donations to the nonprofit.?
A for-profit may donate food items for a non-profit's barbecue fundraiser, or they may give money to support a charitable cause like career development for marginalized students.?
Why do you want corporate sponsorship?
A corporate sponsorship can be more than just an additional source of funding.?
Here are some other ways corporate sponsorship can benefit your nonprofit:?
1. Multiple funding sources. Having multiple sources of funding for your nonprofit means if one fails (like a fundraiser falls through), another one is there to pick up the slack. A corporate sponsorship offers the stability you can rely on.?
2. Builds relationships?. Whether it be employees from the for-profit or other businesses related to the corporate sponsor, having a corporate sponsor is a great way to build new connections to people outside your network.?
3. Expand brand reach?. With a corporate sponsor, you can grow your brand reach as they share their involvement on social media or other communications. Having this relationship also adds legitimacy to your nonprofit, especially, if you're associated with a well-known for-profit because it creates a sense of trust.?
4. Source of encouragement. When your other supporters see a corporate sponsor donate a certain amount to advance your fundraising goals, it can incentivize them to donate too.?
How to get a corporate sponsorship
Speaking to a completely unknown for-profit can seem daunting, but you might be surprised to learn your best bets are right under your nose.?
Here are our tips for securing a corporate sponsorship:
1. Research your potential sponsors. Reach out to your inner circle of existing supporters for opportunities for corporate sponsorship. Joe Waters of Selfish Giving recommends contacting supporters first and then expanding outwards to your contacts (people you know but who haven't given money to your nonprofit yet), and then suspects (people who don't know your organization at all).
2. Evaluate potential sponsors.Once you've created a list of for-profits you'd like to target, evaluate each one for value and audience match. You'll want to avoid companies with business practices that don't align with your mission and impact your relationships with your supporters. Finally, identify the right contact to reach out to. This can sometimes be the company's marketing department.?
3. Build a connection. An authentic relationship built on shared values and goals can take time. Get to know your potential corporate sponsor by inviting them to your events, having one on one conversations with them over a meal or coffee, and connecting with them on a personal level where you form a mutual understanding of your shared struggles and beliefs.
4. Understand corporate sponsor. As you talk to your potential sponsor, show that you've done your homework and that you understand their needs, goals, values, interests. This is a great opportunity to show them how this relationship supports them as much as it supports you.
5. Pitch them your story. Share your nonprofit's story, and make it compelling. Create a concise, focused pitch with points highlighting what makes your nonprofit great like:
- Mission statement
- Demographic of following/supporters/donor base
- Success stories (past events, impact stories, people or vendors you have built relationships with)
- Details of event (in-person or digital?)
- How sponsorship will benefit the for-profit
- Reputable sponsors (past and present)
6. Remember to follow up.?Sometimes it just isn't the right time, and a potential partner doesn't have the funding on hand. If that happens, but you think the partnership could work in the future, keep a list of contacts of potential sponsors, and set a timeline to follow up.?
For more information on how to get a corporate sponsorship, check out our comprehensive 101 guide.
Things to consider?
As you reach out to potential for-profits for a corporate sponsorship, you may run into some unexpected challenges. To keep you prepared, here are some things to consider before you begin.
1. Value/mission statement match?. As previously mentioned, make sure the for-profit doesn't have questionable business practices or conflicting mission statements. You don't want to lose donors or partners over this relationship.
2. Balanced involvement. A large donation from a for-profit can sometimes mean large involvement. Ask your corporate sponsor how involved they want to be and tell them what level of involvement works for you. From there, strike a compromise that makes both parties happy.
3. Brand visibility. Your corporate sponsor will want their logo to be visible in your event, publicity materials, or other collateral, but this may conflict with what you're comfortable with. If having their logo on everything doesn't appeal to you, reach out to them about a way to make sure their company is spotlighted but not at the forefront of the partnership.??
Your corporate sponsor will likely want their logo to appear in a certain way and at a certain level of visibility in exchange for their donation. Ask them what they have in mind and then communicate what you're comfortable with so that how the logo appears makes sense for everyone.
4. Dependent funding. How large of a piece of the funding pie your corporate sponsor will take up depends on how much the for-profit can give. You don't want to be overly dependent on your sponsors, which is why diversifying your nonprofit's revenue streams is so important.
5. In-Kind opportunities. If monetary funding isn't possible, consider in-kind sponsorship instead. For example, you could work with a media partner like a local newspaper or radio station for advertising opportunities instead of financial contributions. That way, your revenue can be directed elsewhere, and your corporate sponsor gets all the sponsorship benefits without committing cash.
6. No sponsorship? Consider cause marketing. If an outright sponsorship isn't in the cards for a for-profit organization, you could also consider a cause marketing relationship. Cause marketing lets a business show social and community responsibility by directing a part of their revenue to a cause—while giving you an additional revenue stream! For a business without a sponsorship plan or a lot of working capital, this option could make more sense.
Whether it be diversifying your sources of funding, widening your audience, amplifying your nonprofit's profile, or driving more donations, a corporate sponsorship is a clear value add. While the journey to securing one may have its own set of challenges, it's well worth the effort. Be patient and remember that cultivating a long-term, meaningful partnership takes time.?
After you secure your sponsorship, remember to set measurable goals and metrics for success. What does a successful partnership look like to you and your organization? Are your sponsors meeting you, when it comes to value and positioning?
Finally, don't be afraid to ask for feedback. It can improve future and current corporate sponsorships so you can further your mission statement and support the communities you care about.?
No matter the event or kind of sponsorship you're looking for, take the guesswork out of reaching out to a potential corporate sponsor with these sponsorship letter templates. Download your free copy here.