Are You Making These Four Common Sponsorship Mistakes?

You are a vital piece of the puzzle to the right brand who is looking to meaningfully engage on impact projects, develop a social purpose and stand up for something.  But for many in the For-Purpose sector, we are still stuck in old, unhelpful habits around how we view and execute our sponsorships and partnerships.

Here are four of the most common mistakes we still see charities making that are preventing them from really securing great partners.

Have you noticed that the corporate/cause-related marketing landscape is evolving at a rate of knots? What businesses were happy to accept from you 5 years ago is vastly different to what they are hoping for from a partnership today.

Consumers are demanding that their favourite brands stop operating from a bottom-line only perspective of measuring profits and start stepping up to be part of the conversation around our health, people, planet and animals.

Mistakes

You are a vital piece of the puzzle to the right brand who is looking to meaningfully engage on impact projects, develop a social purpose and stand up for something.  But for many in the For-Purpose sector, we are still stuck in old, unhelpful habits around how we view and execute our sponsorships and partnerships.

Here are four of the most common mistakes we still see charities making that are preventing them from really securing great partners.

Unhelpful internal cultures.

When I run workshops and present at conferences I often talk about the Board’s role in corporate partnerships.  And eyes start to roll…

So many corporate fundraisers talk about how their Board ‘just doesn’t get it’. That they see fundraising and partnerships as something that sits ‘over there’ that has nothing to do with them, and then almost simultaneously are banging their metaphorical fists on the table asking why we don’t have any sponsors onboard yet?

One of the biggest hinderances to implementing a successful corporate partnerships strategy is unhelpful internal cultures.

There is no doubt that the sense of disconnection between the Board and the fundraising team can be responsible for much angst, frustration and heartache internally, but I’m pleased to also let you know, that as the Corporate Fundraiser for your organisation, there are practical steps you can take RIGHT NOW to start mending relationships and getting the support you need in your role. See my blog on that right here.

Sponsorship and donations are not the same.

So many people confuse corporate giving with sponsorship.  They are absolutely NOT the same thing, they’re not even in the same ballpark! Sponsorship comes out of a company’s marketing budget. Every marketing dollar is tied to some kind of ROI.  Marketing Managers are constantly assessing and tweaking the effectiveness of their marketing spend. If the radio advertising they invested in last year didn’t yield the leads or sales they wanted, guess what? They won’t be spending the same amount (or at all) on radio advertising this year.  It’s the same with sponsorship.  If you reach out to a brand to sponsor your programs or events, then you are competing with the rest of their marketing budget. They are not going to say yes to a sponsorship simply because you are a ‘good cause’.

The toxic sponsorship cycle.

Fundraisers are busy.  It’s full on being in a corporate partnerships role, especially when you’re tasked with acquisition and account management.  It’s even harder if you’re not able to dedicate all of your time to corporate partnerships (because of all those other hats you wear!) so what are the things you can do now, that are the best bang for your buck in progressing your sponsorship strategy? Send out a bunch of proposals to a list of suspects that might be interested in your organisation? NO!  The toxic sponsorship cycle is a process where time-poor and uneducated fundraisers create a proposal and put together a list of prospects and then jam to two together, hoping that the sponsorship magic will happen!

It can be a dangerous vortex that many sponsorship seekers get stuck in because:

  • They’ve always done it this way and it has yielded some results in the past.
  • They don’t believe they have time to spend researching where the alignment with brands might lie.
  • There’s belief that because we are a charity, they will be interested in helping us.
  • Once the proposals are sent out, then they can get back to other important work because the prospects will respond if they’re interested.

Brands are looking for a much different experience than what the toxic sponsorship cycle gives them.

Bronze, Silver, Gold proposals.

As a succinct follow on from my point above, if you’re still sending out proposals that are also filled with gold, silver, bronze (GSB) levels, then you need to stop! In a world where some brands are using geo-location tracking, behavioural marketing and super-refined analytics to gauge how their customers make purchasing decisions and why, why are we expecting that when it comes to building relationships with potential partners that these kinds of proposals will do all the heavy lifting for us?  GSB proposals are not helpful for a multitude of reasons, here are just a few:

  • They do not offer brands the flexibility they are after or the experiences that they want.
  • These levels have little or no valuation placed against them.
  • Brands often ‘cherry pick’ from the options to customise the experience that most closely matches what they’re after, and will offer the lower possible amount.
  • Often once we send out the proposals, we do not follow up to seek their feedback.
  • You look like you are not aware of or do not understand what brands are looking for in terms of cause-related partnerships.

You have so much value to offer the right corporate partner. It’s time to stop acting like a charity in need of handouts, and start embodying the valuable marketing partner and solution provider that you are to the right brand!

Join the conversation happening right now in our Facebook group for fundraisers!

Let's Go!
Let's Go!