Sponsorship vs Philanthropy – Why Is There So Much Confusion?

Every For-Purpose organisation wants to build a financially viable and culturally sustainable enterprise that serves their community and works collaboratively with a variety of stakeholders.

Whether these stakeholders are your members, supporters, the government, donors, corporate partners or thought leaders, it is vital to understand the role each of them plays in the growth and evolution of your organisation.

Generally speaking, sponsorship will come out of a company’s marketing budget.

That means their investment (just like every other marketing spend on advertising and promotion of their brand) will need to be given the chance to recoup some return on their investment by generating opportunities to sell more products and services as a result of their alignment with you.

Sponsorship vs Philanthropy - why is there so much confusion?

The challenge that prevents many potentially successful sponsorships from flourishing is the language that fundraisers 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 things.

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, educate your audience and connect with their target market.  That means it will be a marketing expense.

Just like other marketing expenses, your sponsorship approach is competing against their TV ad campaigns 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 organisation because you are offering a company an opportunity to want to do good in the community, with nothing in return but a heartfelt thank you, then it’s a gift, a donation.

Unfortunately, time and again companies tend to assume, as soon as you introduce yourself as being 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.

Do you find that too?

Seeking sponsorship means that you need to make it clear from the outset that you are offering them an opportunity to promote their business and brand, ask them what their sponsorship goals are 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 fundraisers and event coordinators and the perceived ‘lack of professionalism‘ and ‘entitled’ behaviour in the For-Purpose sector.

Whether this perception is true 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 donors), and less about why your programs need funding to give your organisation and the sector as a whole the opportunity to thrive.

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

Let's Go!
Let's Go!