Starting out sponsorships with sustainability and success in mind

If you find the right fit corporate sponsorship can offer win-win opportunities for not-for-profits and businesses alike. Here, we share our insights on identifying the right sponsorship partner for your organisation or project.

Look for an alignment of values

When you set about choosing a sponsor start by looking for businesses who share your understanding of what really matters. This alignment is essential.

One of the reasons many commercial organisations consider sponsorship is to leverage the clear values of a not-for-profit. When there’s an insincere match, both parties lose.  For instance, if you’re working for environmental protection, an irresponsible corporate sponsor may undo all your hard work – and discourage your other supporters.

Some corporates take on generous sponsorships to mitigate the harm they create.  In this case, you’ll want to be sure their values are real and not superficial. You can look at a company’s website to see how they like to be perceived. However, the way organisation lives its values says much more.  Keep your ear to the ground and check out reviews or social media comments too.

Think beyond the big brands

Well-known corporates get the most requests for sponsorships. They often have sophisticated programmes or strategies with little flexibility. On the other hand, smaller organisations may have more agility, enthusiasm and connection with local initiatives. Look for business leaders in your community who share a passion for your cause. Right now, supporting local is one way that businesses can show their care and gratitude to their communities. So, don’t overlook the potential beyond big brands.

Don’t forget the competition.

If you’re considering a new sponsor, make sure you don’t alienate those you already have by courting the competition. It’s always worth checking with current sponsors before you invite another brand on board. Although the final decision is yours, it’s useful to know where your partners stand.

In fact, your existing sponsors may have ideas for prospects too! There may be an organisation they’d like to build a working relationship. They may be able to bring intros or intel.

We know of one organisation who talked about their need for more sponsorship with an existing partner, only to have the partner offer more funds for additional branding!

Complementary audiences have a benefit for everyone.

If you can identify a sponsor who has a similar audience or target market to your own, then there’s great potential. Exposure to your respective followers may grow your fan base with just the right kind of contacts.

When your audience and your sponsor’s audiences align, it’s easier to find benefits that give real value to each of your communities. You’re also likely to find your sponsor is more actively engaged, which is what makes any sponsorship really thrive.

Cash is not the only thing of value.

Yes, cash is king. But there’s more to success than that. In the current environment, innovative and collaborative solutions are vital. In-kind support can help ensure your success and create strong new relationships. For instance, technology resources or expertise could give you the edge in adapting to the Covid-19 environment. Access to office space could remove massive stress from your budget.

Funding HQ has plenty of other ideas about how to find and nurture sustainable corporate sponsorships. Our sponsorship module has detailed guidance to help you:

  • follow key principles of success
  • develop your sponsorship offering
  • find the right business
  • approach your prospective sponsor
  • build a compelling proposal
  • make the ask
  • activate the sponsorship
  • look after your sponsor.

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