Nonprofit and For-profit Partnerships: Gaining Support from Corporate Sponsors

By Jessica Epperly

The most challenging aspect of gaining a corporate sponsorship is simply the art of asking for it. So often nonprofits see their work as a straightforward and creditable cause, and they assume asking for corporate sponsorship is an easy feat. Surly big dog for-profits have the resources to give, right? Wrong. Even when it comes to sponsorships or gifting to a good cause, corporations use the same decision criteria that they would use when deciding where to put their advertising or marketing budget. At the end of the day, they are looking for win-win opportunities and a clear return on their investment.

Larger and more fiscally strong for-profits such as Apple and Google usually put aside part of their yearly advertising and marketing budget for sponsorship opportunities. The problem is corporations that have the resources to offer quality sponsorship opportunities are approached all the time. Because of this, they usually decide ahead of time the best type of organizations to pair with in order to meet their public relations and marketing initiatives. They want to partner with nonprofits that share the same demographic. Usually, for-profits give to nonprofits that they have a longstanding history with and rarely look for new opportunities. However, if you are looking to foster a new relationship with a for-profit there are some key factors to keep in mind before picking up the phone.

Even more important than securing the actual sponsorship is establishing a good rapport with your contacts. Be aware that even if they choose to decline sponsorship in one instance, they may agree to sponsor your organization in the future.   

Find out ahead of time when your target corporation decides their annual sponsorship budget and pitch to them early, before their budget runs out.

Be sure to research the company and find out if they are launching a new product or marketing initiative that matches your organization’s target audience, as chances are they are looking for ways to further reach the audience you might already be engaging.

Also, it is important to know what you are asking for before asking. Too often calls are fruitless because the person asking for support does not have a clear goal. The best way to clarify your objective is to create a sponsorship package that details levels of sponsorships and the benefits received with a particular level. Make your packages and benefits make sense to the dollar value. If you’re asking for $30K, do the benefits you are offing in return equal the monetary value?

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