If you’re a non-profit, one of your biggest challenges is raising enough money to fund your organization. That’s where fundraising sponsors come into play. Here are some tips on how to get the financial backup you need.
Lay Out Your Target Audience
If you don’t know who your target audience is, don’t expect much in the way of donations. Identify groups of people or companies that would be most receptive to your message. For example, if your organization raises money for ALS research, it’s probably best to target people and companies with existing outreach and awareness campaigns.
You might also want to make a list of people who are influential who have also been affected by the disease.
Leverage Personal Relationships
Once you’ve got a list of your target market nailed down, it’s time to move in on potential sponsors. List-making is a good idea here too. When moving in on potential sponsor list, focus on these key features:
- A person or company that has already acted as a sponsor in the past for another organization.
- A sponsor who can help you increase the value of your event (usually famous, but not always).
- Someone or a company that can draw a crowd, whether through brand recognition or through great marketing initiatives.
Personal relationships are a great place to start. Often a sponsor is someone you or your organization knows, or someone who knows someone you know. These second-tier relationships – friends of friends – are your extended social circle and a great way to expand your organization’s influence even after your fundraiser is over.
Why Sponsors Matter
Not only do sponsors lend credibility to your organization, they provide a low-cost marketing and promotion solution for you. For example, if you’re having a local caterer or restaurant provide food for your event, make sure they promote your event at their restaurant prior to the event. The same holds true for local musicians.
If you’re paying for a band, make sure they advertise your event in gigs prior to your event. Do this with enough sponsors and vendors and you may not need to do any direct advertising at all.
When To Reach Out
You should reach out to sponsors at least 4 months in advance of your event date. You need to plan this far out because decisions from sponsors usually have to go through many levels of approvals. You’re also competing against many other events in your community.
Don’t Forget Marketing
Just because you’re getting sponsors to do most of your marketing for you doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least think about direct marketing. Using lumpy mail, and other unconventional tactics, you could generate quite a buzz around your event. For example, send people Ad Magic in the mail, branded with your organization’s logo and a letter inviting them to attend for games, music, food, and fun.
Getting To “Yes”
Sometimes, getting a sponsor to agree to back you is difficult. Have fun, be creative, and tap into your local hotspots. If there’s a bar you like to go to, for example, that’s a potential donor. If you shop at a local grocery store, make it known that you run an organization that needs donors.
If you dig deep into your connections and local businesses you frequent, you shouldn’t have too much trouble coming up with sponsors.
Bruce Webb has occupied a number of different roles with a non-profit working environment. He is always pleased to share his insights with an online audience. You can find his thoughts on a variety of relevant websites.