Recruiting event sponsorships is often key to a nonprofit’s event fundraising success. As a nonprofit executive, you know the competitive landscape and have jumped through the many (and varied) hoops that companies create. In truth, companies are trying to slow down the requests. So, how can your event sponsorship request stand out?
Overall, the approach below takes into account the company’s perspective. Listen and consider the company’s needs and if there is a way (even small) that investing in your nonprofit event can help them achieve a positive outcome for the company.
Big ideas to boost your event sponsorship revenue:
- Invite the company without an ask: This requires some advance thinking but, prior to asking for a sponsorship, invite the corporation to the event for free. This could be well over a year before your ask but the cultivation opportunity is worth it. Post event - send a note and a picture of corporate attendees to your point of contact.
- Consider an event program or concept that benefits the company: For example, can you host an event that engages employees in a manner that helps fulfill the company’s corporate responsibility plan - OR - could your event support additional learning or motivational opportunities for corporate employees and thus support human resource needs?
Ten ideas to include in your event sponsorship package (note: many of these require use of an event fundraising tool like Swell but this can provide examples of how and why it makes sense to invest in technology):
- Promote sponsor social media channels during the event: Send all guests an email at check-in* (or include in other email correspondence) that thanks a sponsor and provides quick links or ‘like’ options to instantly follow the sponsor’s Facebook or Twitter channel. Report the number of additional fans/followers at the end of the event. *Swell's fundraising software sends an email to guests when they are checked in to the event on our check-in app.
- Provide a sponsorship offer to all event guests during the event that is intended to drive your guests to their business: This could include a coupon or small gift that is emailed or sent via text to guests during the event, preferably just before the opportunity is announced. *Tech note: A seamless check-in that gathers every guests' email address is necessary for this but it's an AWESOME perk for a sponsor.
- Include the event sponsor name in the webpage label of your event website: This is the title that shows in the tab at the top of your web browser and also the title used when an webpage is shared on social media.The webpage label provides maximum exposure for the presenting event sponsor. *Swell clients do this and sponsors LOVE IT!
- Create a Facebook header image that includes sponsor logos: Offer an event sponsor that place and a certain number of Facebook accounts that will change their header to that image with an estimated reach equivalent. (Those who should change their header image include staff, board, event committee and/or clients of the nonprofit.
- Incorporate the signature sponsor's branding throughout event: Incorporate the presenting sponsors color / branding into your event. This can be as bold as utilizing a corporate sponsor brand color throughout your event information or as simple as selecting a volunteer t-shirt color or table centerpiece that incorporates the color.
- Use event sponsor branding in the table centerpieces: We have an e-book on DIY and useful table centerpiece ideas. (We’ve attended too many fundraising events!) This valuable and visible element is often overlooked as a strategic element. For sponsors, consider an offer to incorporate their brand into the table centerpieces. This can be a simple and lovely inclusion of their brand color into an arrangement. One centerpiece idea offered in our guide included hats (especially for nonprofits that do workforce development, job placement and anything related to working) including using the many hats that are used by sponsors (chef hat, construction, bank visor, etc).
Need Some Fresh Ideas
- Highlight the products of your event sponsors: For many companies, one primary goal is to show off their product. Can you incorporate their products into your event? For example, sponsors with clothing / jewelry can be worn by a committee or volunteers. (This can be very striking if managed well -- your committee in all-black accessorized with an exceptional line of scarves or jewelry.) Or, rather than a sponsor product buried in a silent auction can it be highlighted on stage as a gift to the event chairs or a prize for a guest? You can also incorporate sponsor items into a photo booth, even a “thank you” sign in your booth.
- Leverage the event ticket design to thank your sponsors: For your ticketed events, use the ticket itself to promote sponsors. Include a coupon or offer on the printed ticket that your guests can utilize. This is a great way for your sponsor to advertise and also to track impact. At a minimum, place the sponsor names/logos on the ticket for increased visibility. *In order to do this, your ticketing/registration must allow you to customize the ticket design.
- Highlight sponsors in your event communication: Each guest to your event will receive AT LEAST three and likely upwards of 5 emails from you. Those include a ticket email, donation receipt or purchase receipt, an invitation or a confirmation. Did you know that the open rate for our clients is over 65%? Check out this article about email customizations with ideas on how you can support sponsors and your mission.
- Drive traffic to your event website: The online traffic that you create for your event website is valuable and often surprising. Do you announce honorees or other information that non-event guests read? Could you gain a wider audience through content? (i.e. a cooking event could post winning recipes, event photos are always popular.) (1) Include corporate sponsor logos on all event web pages (2) Measure and report the website visitor traffic to the corporate sponsor. There are many benefits of an event microsite.
- Create a fun event for company guests / employees: Take steps to create human resource value for your corporate sponsors via the event. A black tie gala is very different from an outdoor cooking competition but in each case the nonprofit has an opportunity to create an exceptional experience. (1) Do everything possible to obtain the names of corporate sponsor guests. (2) Provide corporate guests with a printed picture and thank you note. (3) A useful gift for the event (i.e. at an outdoor event - special guests might appreciate a small tote with hand wipes, sunscreen, hat, snacks) (4) Group designation / hashtag: Younger guests, in particular, enjoy being part of a group (‘tribe’ is the word used in psychology articles). Can you create a sub-hashtag for your event to be used exclusively by this group? (5) Take a picture of these guests and use it in your program next year.
The features of Swell's system were designed with revenue in mind -- it's not just about managing your event well, it's about leveraging it. With the right technology, you can change the conversation with your corporate sponsors and stand out from the crowd.
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