The challenge that prevents many potentially successful sponsorship relationships from flourishing is the language that For-Purpose sponsorship seekers tend to use when asking for money. For example, as a charity you may ask a company to sponsor your upcoming event. Will that be a marketing expense or a donation for the company? It depends very much on what you are seeking and the language that you use.
Sponsorship and philanthropy are NOT the same thing.
You should always be clear about why the money is being invested.
For example, if you are truly asking for sponsorship, that means you are willing to promote a company’s brand, products and services and most importantly you understand that the sponsorship relationship has expectations attached to it that the company will have opportunities to make sales and connect with their target market. That means it will be a marketing expense.
Just like other marketing expenses, your sponsorship proposal is competing against their television advertising campaign for the coming year, as well as any advertising, promotion and social media marketing they will be undertaking. So be sure to give your sponsor clear options for how you will place their marketing messages in front of your supporters by including all the ways you can leverage access to the people you serve.
If however, if you are asking for investment that is intended to support your For-Purpose organisation because you are offering a company an opportunity to want to do good in the community, then it’s a gift, a donation.
Unfortunately, time and again companies tend to assume, as soon as you introduce yourself as being from a For-Purpose that you are only seeking a handout. People tend to close down and it can be difficult to get them to hear what you have to say.
Seeking sponsorship means that you need to ensure that you make it clear from the outset that you are offering them an opportunity to promote their business and brand and detail the ways you can help them access a target market that they are not yet doing business with.
Many corporate marketing managers have become jaded with For-Purpose sponsorship seekers, fundraisers and event co-ordinators and the perceived ‘lack of professionalism‘ and ‘entitled’ behaviour in the For-Purpose sector. Whether this perception is truth or not, is not actually the point. Every time you connect with a company it is an opportunity to showcase the diversity and incredible richness of our sector. Make it more about creating a relationship (as you do so beautifully with your supporters), and less about why your programs need funding and so on and give your organisation and the sector as a whole the opportunity to thrive.