This post is the first in a series designed to open you up to a new way of viewing sponsors and their role within your nonprofit’s overall strategy. These posts are based on the “Sponsorship Strategy: Recruiting and Keeping Sponsor Partners” eBook from the Greater Giving Fundraising Excellence Series. Each new post focuses on a different part of your sponsor strategy and how best to leverage your value for the greatest mutual benefit. View all released series articles—Sponsorship Strategies
Does this sound familiar at all:
You’re four or five months out from your annual auction. Your team set a goal for sponsorships after last year’s event, and now you’re approaching new sponsors hoping you can recruit just enough of them to scrape past your goal.
But it’s hard to make time for all the research, the phone calls, the personal attention that it takes to secure a commitment from a sponsor while you’re also soliciting top-notch items for your silent auction, sending out event invitations, and organizing catering. The clock is ticking, and sponsors are already sensing it. They know you’re there to ask for money. You feel like Oliver Twist.
If this sounds like you, you’re not the only one. Many nonprofits approach sponsor recruitment on an event-by-event basis—with some repeat sponsors, but usually, you have to go out and grab new ones each year to fill out the budget. And what you end up with is a feverish rush to find funding, settling for sponsors who might not be quite the right fit for your nonprofit, settling for sponsor packages that aren’t quite at the dollar commitment levels you’d hoped for.
The worst part? Sponsors can offer so much value beyond dollars alone—their business acumen, their feedback, promotions that might happen at other times of year. And we’re missing out on all of that if we only tap them when event season rolls around.
Shifting the Paradigm
Fixing your rushed, last-minute dash for sponsors—while simultaneously reaching above and beyond your goal for sponsorship dollars—is going to require you and your team to take a few steps back. It will require rethinking the way your organization as a whole approaches sponsorships and sponsor relationships, and their role in your nonprofit’s year-round operation.
And I want to stress the “greater income” element of this paradigm shift. The benefit of rebuilding your sponsor strategy could be huge in the long term, both in terms of actual sponsor dollars, and in saved opportunity costs.
Imagine if most of your event sponsors were already waiting in the wings when the auction prep began, because they had all signed multi-year sponsorship agreements with you? What if you could count on those dollars already, and the time you normally spent on recruitment could be spent instead on soliciting better items, giving better customer service to your guests, and preparing for your big night?
Step 1: Group Planning Meeting
Pull everyone in for this one, because it’s going to matter.
Jill joined the Greater Giving team over 10 years ago, bringing her experience with event planning, marketing, customer success and copywriting. Her deep knowledge of fundraising trends and challenges are incorporated into many of the valuable fundraising resources Greater Giving provides to nonprofits worldwide. She is equally passionate about volunteering and yoga; and is a certified volunteer instructor who teaches family yoga.