When a nonprofit has a big fundraiser or initiative coming up, one of the first things they start trying to line up is funding, in particular, corporate sponsors, who could be said are the financial “whales” of the nonprofit world.
In addition to providing usually substantial funding, a corporate sponsorship is a vote of confidence, showing other businesses — and other big donors — that your nonprofit is worth their time and money.
Even though companies usually decide their sponsorship budgets near the end of the year, there is usually money set aside dedicated to last-minutes requests.
So where to start?
Choose a Corporation
Figure out what corporation your nonprofit would appeal to, something that is recommended in How to Get Sponsorships Using GiveWP | Donation Plugin for WordPress.
Targeting the right corporation can save time, and can also help focus on how much to ask for.
Ask Your Board
Ask your board members who they would recommend. Make a presentation of upcoming fundraisers for the year in front of the board.
Be forthright about which events need sponsors, supplying what sponsorship levels are. Tell them which sponsors you are going after, and ask if they know of any or are they on boards of corporations that could help. Follow-up the next day with a personalized email — not an open email to all board members — about your needs and deadlines.
The development director and/or executive director should already have the current board CVs, which should be updated each year to reflect any changes.
Why? Your board members are most likely on other boards – including those of corporations that could sponsor your event.
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Network Outside of Fundraising
Invite prospects to other events, not necessarily fundraisers. Make sure you attend other community events as well.
Make your prospects feel the love, and invite them to events that aren’t always fundraising. During the COVID-19 pandemic, this will be different: Does your museum have a weekly music series online? Are virtual events timed for weekends or after hours so businesspeople can attend at their leisure, or videos that can be viewed at any time? Email the links!
Make sure you are networking outside of fundraising.
Contact the Right People
Start with the regional marketing manager. They are more than likely already familiar with your organization, so you won’t spend as much time trying to pitch them.
Regional marketing managers often have a separate budget to use at their discretion, with nominal oversight by headquarters, which they can appeal to if the benefit exceeds their budget for the year. Or, get the ball rolling for the following year.
Remember that these are busy people with not a lot of time. Know their assistants.
Board members and those you are targeting have assistants who are often the critical gatekeeper. Learn their first names; engage them. Positive experiences with an assistant can often make the difference between whether they sponsor your group or another.
LinkedIn isn’t just for job connections. Remember #3, start with a regional marketing manager? This is the place to find them.
LinkedIn is more than an online professional platform to make connection; it could be one of the first places the corporation is going to look at. If you don’t have an account, set one up immediately.
Set Up an Online Sponsorship Form
One way to test the waters is to set up an online sponsorship form of your own. It’s an easy way to introduce the corporation and its staff to what your organization is doing and what funds benefit.
Don’t Waste Time
Don’t waste your time applying via online corporate sponsorship forms. These are often automated and can get lost in the mix of other applications.
Remember a corporate sponsorship benefits both sides: your organization with the funding, them with having their name attached to a quality event and organization. Finding the right corporate sponsor may take time, but is worth it.