Event sponsorships are a great way to secure nonprofit funding to support your organization’s mission. Not only can a sponsor be a financial contributor, but they can also benefit you in intangible ways like boosting your credibility, especially if they’re a reputable brand backing your event. But it can feel daunting to identify and secure sponsors for nonprofit events, especially if you’re like most nonprofit professionals: Busy wearing multiple hats.
However, if you build out a strategy that can be duplicated and perfected over time, then you will set your organization up to be sustainable over the long run. That’s why it’s essential to have a solid strategy in place to ensure success.
In this article, we will provide five tips to help you identify and secure sponsors for nonprofit events that will position your organization to achieve its fundraising goals.
1. Understand your audience to identify target sponsors
The first step in event sponsorship success is to understand the audience for your event. Identify and describe your event attendees, including interests and demographic profiles. This information will help select sponsors whose products or services are relevant to your audience. Your audience data should always drive your sponsor outreach. For example, if your audience is primarily young professionals in the technology sector, then target sponsors catering to this demographic such as banks, tech companies, health insurance plans, and retailers. You can then create a pitch package of the event or initiative tailored to the target sponsor as a solution to help them achieve their goals.
2. Develop a clear case for support
Once you have identified target sponsors, develop a strong position that highlights the benefits of supporting your event. Audience demographics and psychographics, number of event attendees, and marketing opportunities are three critical elements to include in your case for support. Be sure to emphasize the positive impact that the sponsorship will have on your nonprofit’s mission. Additionally, this positioning demonstrates the potential ROI expected when they partner with you.
Customized sponsorship packages are an effective way to attract sponsors and provide a range of opportunities to get them involved with your event. Each sponsorship package should include standard information such as your nonprofit overview, event objectives, audience data, event logistics, sponsorship opportunities, and a contact page. Tailor each sponsorship package to the specific needs and interests of your sponsors, and include a mix of marketing opportunities such as logo placement, social media promotions, and speaking opportunities. It is best practice to review their company website to learn more about their sponsorship program (i.e. focus areas and application process). Another option is to schedule a call with your potential sponsor to ask them specific questions to gain a better understanding of what they need and value. Sponsorship should always feel like a win-win relationship.
4. Provide sponsorship brand benefits that sponsors actually want
Provide sponsorship brand benefits and recognition to your sponsors to ensure that they feel valued and appreciated, while giving brand exposure. Offer exclusive access to your event, such as VIP tickets, and highlight your sponsors’ contributions through signage, social media posts, and other marketing materials. Be sure to thank your sponsors publicly and acknowledge their support in all of your communications. Check out this freebie to see what else you can offer a sponsor.
5. Follow up and build long-term relationships
Finally, follow up with your sponsors after the event. Send a personalized thank you note, provide a summary of the event’s impact, and ask for feedback on how you can improve future events. To build long-term relationships (and repeat sponsorship), keep in touch with your sponsors throughout the year. Provide them with updates on your organization’s activities and achievements. Share with them the direct impact their contribution is making in the lives of your program participants. This step is missed by most nonprofits. If you’re doing this, then you’re already standing out amongst the sea of nonprofits.
In conclusion, event sponsorships are an excellent way to secure nonprofit funding to support your organization’s mission. Remember, it’s about more than paying for a one-time event. You’re building a partnership that will create a legacy of impact for your organization, while increasing revenue. This creates a win-win opportunity for everyone.
Mariah Monique, MPH, is the Founder and CEO of The SponsorshipCatalyst, where she and her team help nonprofit organizations position themselves to secure event sponsors by packaging sellable event sponsorship opportunities. Mariah is a Sponsorship Strategy Educator, consultant, sponsorship seeker, and funder, so she has a tri-fold perspective on teaching nonprofit organizations how to secure sponsors. Additionally, she has reviewed and evaluated hundreds of sponsorship packages and pitches, made decisions for sponsorship fund allocation, and built brand activations. She knows what sponsors want.