Find Sponsors that Understand and Support Your Cause

 Photo by

Photo by

Cultivating corporate sponsors that align with your cause will go a long way in furthering your marketing dollars and mission’s longevity.

Businesses understand that consumers want to support brands that are giving back to communities and not just making money. Corporations want their employees to feel good working for a company that exemplifies corporate citizenship, and sponsoring non-profits is a great way to boost morale.

Before you begin to reach out to corporations, understand that it’s a tough economy with high competition from both established and emerging non-profits all knocking on doors asking for sponsorship. But don’t be discouraged: do your research, have a strategy and find the right sponsors that best fit with your cause.


Have a Plan 

Corporations receive multiple requests every day. Don’t fade into an already saturated market of social enterprises looking for corporate sponsorships by not having a prepared and logical plan. Similar to a job application, you want to wow them with a standout plan that fits strategically with their corporate identity. A well thought out plan should include: a background on your organization, mission, goals, facts and statistical figures, budget, cross-promotional opportunities, benefits, key team players, timelines, and proposed reporting structure.


Develop a Budget

Before you proposition a potential corporate sponsor, determine what exactly it is that you are asking from them. If you’re planning an event, calculate all the costs including venue rental, giveaways, printing, marketing, entertainment, set up, food, etc. Determine what your non-profit is able to afford and subtract any donations that have already been pledged to determine how much is needed to raise.

Sometimes businesses prefer not to give cash and may support your cause by providing in-kind gifts. Compile a list of tangible items that you require and that may help alleviate your costs.


What can you offer them? 

A corporate sponsorship is a two-way deal between non-profits and businesses. In this agreement, your non-profit will be receiving financial support, probably volunteers from employees and extra mileage in raising awareness. But what will you be able to give to businesses in exchange? Some examples include:

  • prominent logo placement in your signage, program book and marketing materials
  • recognition as a sponsor and supporter of your cause
  • inclusion in your digital and traditional marketing campaigns
  • sponsorship level (ex. platinum, gold, silver)

Be sure to clearly outline what kind of benefits and promotions that you can provide to potential sponsors.


Contact Like-Minded Businesses 

Streamline a list of businesses to approach by finding the ones that strategically align with your mission. For example, if your cause is to promote animal welfare, you may not want to be associated with a fashion brand that exploits animal fur.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are these businesses credible?
  • What kind of reputation do they have?
  • Do they believe in the same cause?
  • Are they doing anything else to show their support?

In an effort to boost their profile of supporting diversity and inclusion in the workplace, TD bank has long been a visible supporter of LGBT organizations and at Pride Festivals across the country. Their goal is “for customers to see themselves reflected in everything we do, from our employees, to our advertising and products and services; and for our employees to feel that they can bring their whole and true selves to work.” A major part of their mission is to be seen as an inclusive and diverse corporate culture, and they show that by strategically placing their best workplace awards on their sponsorship page.  


Know Who to Contact

Once you’ve compiled your list of target businesses, find out who is the person in charge and his or her contact information. Keep in mind that this is the person who receives a multitude of proposals, cold calls and cold emails from non-profits – big and small. This means you will need to craft a very compelling proposal, clearly outlining your value proposition, budget request, timelines, and outcomes. Develop a relationship with this contact and be personable.


Assign a Point Person

When reaching out to businesses for corporate sponsorships, the key is to keep the entire process as streamlined as possible. The best way to achieve this is to assign one key person to own the project and be the main liaison with the sponsor. This point person could be you, another staff in your organization or an outsourced sponsorship consultant.

Whoever takes on this role will need to maintain positive relationships with the sponsoring company by being clear, transparent and accountable. He or she will need to take on a proactive role of delivering timelines, progress updates, outcomes, and reports. By maintaining a positive rapport, it better ensures that you will continue receiving sponsorship year after year.  

The key to finding the right sponsors for your cause is simplicity. As long as you’ve done your research and delivered a well-prepared proposal, you will attract the right sponsors that understand and support your cause.

Shirley Lui