We gathered a group of corporate sponsors and nonprofits together for an afternoon of questions and ANSWERS! The following important themes and ideas emerged and provide fantastic guidelines for nonprofit fundraisers.
Q1. How can a nonprofit gain access to a corporate sponsor?
A1. Do your homework. This was the clear message from our sponsor panel. It is imperative that nonprofits know if the company has a timeline, application process, or preferred causes. Follow it.
A2. You might be lucky and get one meeting as a result of a relationship - don't waste it but also don't make an ask unless you've completed Answer 1.
A3. It is important to know if company employees are involved with the nonprofit cause. If not, you may need to focus on cultivating a board member, volunteers or group of donors from the company first. The connection between sponsorships and how those sponsorships support company employees was a common theme.
A4. A cold email will not yield a meeting or access. It is better to find opportunities to cross paths with decision makers, cultivate a connection and then ask for time.
Q2. What types of events do corporate sponsors prefer?
A1. Generally speaking, the sponsors did not have a preference for an event concept although several expressed reluctance to sponsor a new luncheon fundraiser and some silent auction fatigue.
A2. Host an event that the corporate sponsor's employees and/or decision makers want to attend. Consider surveying guests to help improve events or determine if your event needs a new concept
A3. Family events. All corporate sponsors agreed that corporate sponsorships that provide opportunities to engage their employee's families are winners. While family events can be challenging for individual fundraising, a carefully crafted event can provide an important donor acquisition and awareness opportunity.
Q3. What not to do?
A1. Do not have a program that is too long. Be cognizant of schedules and reasonable times. Sponsors universally complained about sending c-suite individuals to an event that runs too late (and then getting a complaint email the next day).
A2. Host an unorganized event. Your event reflects your organization and the company employees who attend will report negative experiences back to the sponsorship decision-maker.
A3. Forget to acknowledge sponsors. Organize the logo and sponsorship placements outlined in your sponsorship agreement and get it organized. They notice.
Q4. What are the best practices for following up with sponsors post-event?
A1. Provide the corporate sponsor contact with a personal thank you note and if you can include anything that relates to the sponsor's role it's even better
A2. If you have a good photographer, send printed pictures of the corporate sponsor's table of guests or any photos that relate to the sponsor as a memento.
A3. Provide an event summary - attendees, online mentions, fundraising and what their sponsorship allowed you to accomplish for your cause and/or the event.
Looking for creative ideas to put in your sponsorship package? Check out 10 Ideas to Include in your Event Sponsorship Package