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The art of attracting corporate sponsorship for nonprofits

"This is so hot that it's scorching. People want to purchase from companies that give back to the community. If you change lives in a positive way, that's cause-related marketing." -Hollander (The Wealthy Bag Lady) on cause related marketing.

Hunting for corporate sponsorship can be a tedious task. Yes, there are companies out there with big purses, but they typically have a long list of strings attached with them.  Looking for the right corporate partner for your project to bring a synergy to both sides and finally, closing the sponsorship deal, can be a herculean task.

We have come up with a list of points so that you and your organization can nail the art of attracting corporate sponsorship and build successful partnerships ahead.

The market has plenty of opportunities. Follow the checklist and get on with the task!

1.Define your project: The first step is to have a clear vision, mission, and purpose of your project. Make a mindmap of your project goals, outcomes, timelines, the impact it will create, the required budget, volunteers, and partnerships with corporate, media and other associations, civic bodies, ect. Do a thorough research on which demographic segment will you be impacting, what will be the estimated footfall for the event/project activity. Clarity in all these aspects within your team is a must.

2.Choose the company strategically- Research the companies who have previously invested in similar projects. Find out how much they have invested previously to determine their investment potential. Understand why they invested in such a project. Is it directly impacting their direct sales or only adding to their brand value? Figure out the link between their marketing efforts and impact investment for a particular cause. All this will help you choose the right company and present your pitch in a strategic way as you prepare a strong case of substantial marketing investment, which can add immense value to the company.

3.Find the right person to approach in the company- Find out through the website, Linkedin, or other sources about the marketing group head, CSR head, community affairs lead, etc. Start with connecting with them via Linkedin or email with a compelling[1]  message. Do not pitch about your project. Focus on building a good rapport first.

4.Have an awesome sponsor proposal- In order to craft a compelling proposal, keep in mind the following factors:

  • Start with a story to build an emotional connect
  • State the vision and mission of your nonprofit along with a timeline of all the activities/projects accomplished by your team. Highlight the figures and impact created. Have testimonials of the target group you serve.
  • Include a section with testimonials from your advisory board
  • Project pitch - introduction, timelines, estimated budgets, assessment metrics, expected impact to be created; include essential details
  • Innovative ways of how the company can engage with your nonprofit
  • How your project will add value to the company’s brand
  • Estimated sponsorship cost with estimations for each activity
  • Testimonials from other corporations that have offered sponsorship previously
  • Promise deliverables in terms of media coverage, number of people and other project activities
  • Suggest a plan for long term association, not just for this project

Make sure the proposal is succinct and attractive enough for the sponsors to grasp details easily.


5. Negotiate-  You are asking for money for a cause that will impact so many lives. Be bold and negotiate, keeping in mind your nonprofit or company’s interest. Successful negotiation only happens when it is a win-win situation for both sides. If you can clearly define and make the sponsor understand that it is a brilliant investment for them, they will settle for it. Back your proposition with facts, figures, and a strong conviction. All that matters and reflects is confidence!


6. Follow-up-The sponsors are busy with a million other things. You need to consistently, but politely, follow up with them. Each time you do so, send something associated with your nonprofit. If you are sending an email, enclose your latest newsletter along with it. Send some small gift made by the kids/women/target group after you have visited them, thanking them for their time. Send reminder emails and request another meeting if they still have not closed the deal. You need to gauge their interest level and decide whether the lead is worth following. Remember, it takes typically 7-10 follow ups to close such a lead.


7. Stay connected- Even if the sponsor does not wish to partner with you on your current project, continue to stay connected with them. Wish them on festivals, invite them to your nonprofit’s events, tell them how they can volunteer their time, ask them if their children would like to associate and volunteer with your nonprofit. Always build a long term relationship; you never know when the sponsor might want to give you money as somewhere he/she feels connected with your nonprofit and its cause. The key is to establish a connect!


 If you have been successful with other tactics, please share in the comments section!



About the author:

Venkat Dulipalli is the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of VolunteerMark

The art of attracting corporate sponsorship for nonprofits by

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