Event fundraising success is contingent upon two sources: Corporate sponsorship and individual giving (via ticket sales, donations or auctions). Events are extremely effective tools for nonprofits to use to strategically open up a new giving channel, particularly corporate giving.
Why Do Companies Give?
- Relationship: The most likely channel for corporate giving is a personal relationship with a decision maker or influencer. Often, these relationships are cultivated by board members and opening these doors for nonprofit staff is a good role for a board member.
- Marketing: Co-branding opportunities for a company are valuable and a well-executed, popular event that brings in a strong demographic speaks to a need that the corporate marketing department may need to fill. To do this well, one must understand his/her event brand, the demographics of who attends, data to support corporate visibility and measurable outcomes that the event can drive for the company (names, sign ups, traffic to a retail store).
- Employee engagement: For exceptional events, the corporate sponsorship may be viewed as an employee perk or engagement opportunity. Do people clamber to come to your event? Does it sell out, is it exclusive? If so, you may have an event that provides this opportunity for a company to reward employees with tickets.
- Cause: Cause-driven corporate given does not need to come through an event. However, the nonprofit cause and the quality of the organization are an important step in the evaluation of a gift. While the catalyst for an event sponsorship may lie elsewhere, companies are judicious and have many choices. They will evaluate impact especially as the event sponsorship moves into a multi-year relationship. Events are a great way to open the door to cultivating a company for the cause alone and moving them into more strategic giving unrelated to an event.
How Do You Communicate to a Sponsor?
Be Creative: Event sponsorships have begun to sound EXACTLY the same even in a time when the number and effectiveness of marketing channels is increasing.
For tips, check out the following:
Initial meeting: The first meeting with a potential corporate sponsor sets the scene for your relationship. Here are some tips for the best first-impression.
Follow Up: The follow up with a corporate event sponsor is essentially your ask for next year - donor retention. Your follow up information to a sponsor should include the following: (1) Heartfelt thanks, (2) Data: Visibility, Attendance, etc. (3) Feedback - quotes from guests (4) Employee support - did you meet their attendees, help them have fun, engage in some way? Remember, this sponsorship will ultimately be evaluated and while much of the success/fail is qualitative, you will stand out by including quantitative support.