Not long after I left teaching and began fundraising, I visited my sister. She said, “Oh, so you’re in sales now.” For months, we argued about this, in a friendly way, of course.
But, today, I mostly agree with her, especially, when it comes to sponsorships with local businesses or corporations. Success here requires a change in tactic from a focus on my mission to a focus on their mission.
Here are Five Strategies that I’ve used to Grow Business Sponsorships. (Remember, if you don’t get the right person to make your introduction, these steps may not work!)
1. Quantify the value of your benefits: How many Save the Date cards, invitations, and programs will you print? Where will your prospect’s name and logo be presented? Are there added visibility opportunities through media presentations, table tents, and reception signage?
2. Focus on the audience! I once closed a sponsorship for a sitar concert by focusing on the target audience of my prospect. I said, “The theater seats 1,200 people. Most are over the age of 50 and high net worth. You can host a reception beforehand at (nearby restaurant), and I’m happy to help with the guest list.” Viola, sold!
3. Be flexible! For years, I successfully closed a business sponsor who cared only about two benefits – program book ad placement and tickets. When we met, I was flexible. But a word of caution: Most local sponsors know each other and talk about benefits. Be judicious. Can you justify your decision and make modifications for other sponsors, if necessary?
4. Be generous! Give away some tickets this year to introduce prospective business sponsors to your event and organization. Target. Be intentional. Seat “next year’s sponsors” at a table with guests who will imbue them with confidence. Next year, that ask will be easier.
5. To successfully grow business and corporate support for your mission, embrace your “sales” role. Pay attention to their goals: increasing revenue, growing affiliations, connecting to audiences with potential, and benefiting from the halo effect of an association with your non-profit.
Want to read other helpful tips based on real-life experiences and years of successful fundraising? Simply click here!
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