5 Tips for nonprofits to attract corporate sponsorships

Is your personal inbox and mailbox full of requests to donate to a cause, event, or project? Surely, that’s a yes. Ditto for our agency’s email feed. We are barraged with requests from nonprofits for financial sponsorship on behalf of our clients. 

We know what you’re going through. There is a growing need for social services. Operational costs are rising. Governmental budgets are strained. Competition for donations is at an all time high and the community truly needs your service.

With so many organizations depending on the generosity of public and private donations, how can your non-profit make the cut and get funded? Part of the answer is understanding the public relations goals of a corporation or business and to a greater degree, understanding how you can leverage your organization to become a valued partner.

1. Understand the corporate process.

Your need may be now, but most corporations with meaningful budgets work on an annual basis with defined giving levels and goals. Many of our clients require an outreach plan in Q4 for the following year based on their public service tiers. A banking client may choose financial education and entrepreneurial support while a quick food service client supports education and workforce improvement initiatives. Others choose to back active lifestyle programs for youth. A percentage of an annual budget usually goes to longer term, even ongoing multi-year programs. Most budgets also include some funding for smaller, short-term asks. A single call to an agency like ours that handles many client giving programs can assist you with your planning and getting on client lists for advance consideration. 

2. Up your communication game.

One of the first places we look for information on a nonprofit requesting funding is your social media. How many fans do you have? Are you continually providing information and opportunities for engagement? Do you have great reviews? Take a cue from My Brother’s Workshop stats: 6.7K followers, 64 FB reviews, and pages and pages of Google search results. Be worthy of a top sponsorship by providing the potential for valuable engagement.

3. Be a true partner.

What is it that your non-profit can do for a sponsor besides hanging a banner at an event? Your ability to share the outreach workload with significant email lists, followers and supporters is huge. Not tech savvy? Boots on the ground personal connections with local influencers and media is valuable too. A best practices example of a true partnership is Taphus Beer House First Friday fundraising events. After hosting multiple events it was clear that organizations who brought the willingness and capability to mirror the outreach effort by the host resulted in a packed venue with the greatest proceeds generated. Their Humane Society event was packed shoulder-to-shoulder with supporters. Beverage sponsors wanted to be a part of the highly publicized energy with donated products. The non-profit not only co-promoted with e blasts to their enviable house list and boosted posts, they created a pop-up t-shirt and gear shop at the event and sold out of merchandise. Everyone wins. Especially the animals.

4. Identify common goals.

Create synergy by understanding the goals of your would-be sponsor and align them with your own goals. (Re-read Tip #1). Play off the values most exemplified by the corporation to build trust and fellowship. Pool resources and outreach efforts to energize loyal audiences and engage new believers. You bring the power of heartstring pull messaging with testimonials and case studies that show the impact of fundraising. You will not only benefit from working hand-in-hand with corporate marketing departments that have the resources to do what NGOs with limited budgets can’t, you will learn in the process. 

5. Get a plan.

Look at your cashflow history and identify when you are most likely to be in dire need of funds. Calendarize events, activations, and fund matching opportunities. Be organized with a visual presentation of your goals, service record, funding need, a description of how a sponsor can assist your efforts, and how they will benefit. Be clear with contact information and be responsive. This example of our Canine Companions Sponsorship Opportunities package checked all the boxes for a record breaking fundraiser.

Bonus Tip: Don’t stop rewarding your supporters after the activation! Post results, photos and gratitude for involvement. People like MLB will look for news and posts acknowledging your sponsors.

You may be a fundraising underdog, but don’t look like one. Be worthy of a top sponsorship donation with advance planning and willingness to provide partnership value.