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How to know what corporate sponsors expect from their nonprofit partners

A sponsorship between a nonprofit organization and a corporate sponsor is a two-way street.  While your organization receives the funds to cover the expenses of an event, the company gets exposure, a relatively cheap promotion, and the appreciation of their target audience. This statement is supported by a research pointing out that 9 out of 10 customers expect businesses they buy from to be socially responsible and to give back to their community.

If you think that your nonprofit organization is too small, you shouldn’t be discouraged. The truth is that local businesses or even the local outlets of some famous brands are even more interested in such projects.

However, to team up with a company, you need to build a solid plan and, most importantly, know what they expect from you. Let’s find out more on that.


Do your homework

According to a recent study, 92% of companies claim that brand alignment plays a fundamental role in partnering up with nonprofits. Remember, every successful company strives to build an authentic brand image, so it’s not surprising at all that they are interested in teaming up with the organizations that share their values only. Precisely because of this, you should do your homework and learn more about their corporate culture and goals.

Unlike donors, whose motivations depend on numerous factors and change over time, companies have well-established criteria for supporting nonprofit organizations. This helps you make a selection and contact only the companies that might see potential in cooperating with you. Don’t waste your time on the companies that have no reason to support you.

Additionally, you need to know how reliable and socially responsible the company is. Search for their corporate social responsibility (CSR) statement. If they don’t have one, you need to pay attention to their nonprofit history to see which causes and charities they have supported so far. Finally, you should also check whether they will offer some kind of a guarantee that they will stick to the contract. For example, you could require surety bonds and, in this way, ensure that, even if a corporate sponsor fails to reach agreement, you will be fully refunded.


Boost their brand visibility

Let’s face it. For corporations, sponsoring your event is not triggered by any specific emotions or philanthropy. It’s just another business arrangement they rely on to boost their brand recognition and sales. They want to see their logo everywhere during the event and this is exactly what you need to offer to them. There are numerous creative ways to promote their brand, including radio spots, t-shirts, print, press releases, billboards, landing pages, tweets, Facebook shares, and email campaigns.


Engage employees

Engaging employees with their nonprofit partners provides a great story for the company to tell to both their future employees and the public, but also strengthens the bonds between the two organizations. It’s one thing to write a check and yet another to get your employees to give up their obligations and help a nonprofit organization with its event.

This is why you should create programs and strategies that can be used by your corporate partners to engage their employees with the project. Events to sponsor, campaigns with fundraising challenges, and volunteer days are just some of numerous ideas that will definitely inspire a company to say yes to you.


Help them measure ROI

When a company sponsors an event, they want to measure its ROI. So, if you want your sponsors to come back next year, you need to provide them with the extensive reports on the event. Send statistics on the number of volunteers, the attendance, money raised, and what that money was used for. Also, take a lot of photos at the event showing the sponsor signage, participants enjoying themselves, as well as the activities their contribution made possible.


Give them tons of publicity

The main aim of corporations financing your projects is to show the public that they are making a difference. In other words, they want to be recognized for their generosity and you should help them achieve this. Here are a few things that will help you give them a plenty of publicity:

  • Acknowledge them in your public speeches, board meetings, and interviews.
  • Invite them to take part in any pre-event activities you organize, such as press conferences.  
  • Invite them for a private tour of your organization, take photos, and send them to the local business journal.
  • Provide your sponsors with VIP tickets to your event. You should even invite those companies that chose not to fund you. Nurturing relationships with them might result in a significant future collaboration. Namely, when they see how successful your event was, they might choose to support you the following year.
  • Get your employees to thank a sponsor via their private social media accounts.

Further information

Getting corporate sponsors onboard is a daunting task, especially if your event is new. However, if done right, this might result in fruitful future partnerships. Similarly to any other donor to your organization, you need to contact the companies that share the same values, make them part of your organizational family, and nurture relationships with them in the long run.


Page last edited Nov 21, 2017 History

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