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Raise more sponsorship dollars this fall

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Before we dive in and look at some turnkey ways to increase your cause marketing revenue, let’s start at the beginning. What is cause marketing? The way I use the term is in reference to all of the ways that companies engage charities to drive profit. There are the obvious ways like sponsoring an event, advertising and product sales but there are also things like community outreach, branding and employee engagement. If you are interested in, or currently involved with, the cause marketing space then this article will help you raise more money!

Let’s talk sponsorship!

Cause marketing is a huge umbrella term that covers many things, including: corporate social responsibility (CSR), third party events, point of purchase campaigns, employee engagement and sponsorship. Sponsorship can be restricted to an event or can be connected to a particular program or project and is probably the most common type of cause marketing happening in Canada today...so let’s start with sponsorship!

Five things to do in September for more sponsorship dollars

Many corporate entities make decisions for the following calendar year by the end of October/early November, which means that now is the time to act or you could leave some money on the table.

Try these techniques and strategies for the next 30 days and you will be surprised at how much money comes in during the winter and spring as a result!

Tip #1: Think partnerships, not philanthropy

This one is less of a technique than it is a shift in mindset. Is your cause important? Absolutely! Will it come up in a meeting with a corporate prospect? Definitely! But if you spend the majority of the meeting talking about your programs and your cause, you may be in trouble.

As a charity, you exist to achieve your mission. You mission and programs are your product and how you measure success for your shareholders (donors, board and volunteers). Companies exist to make a profit, that’s how they measure success and how their boards and shareholders measure their success. In all likelihood you are pitching to a marketing, business development or HR person, all of whom are being measured and held accountable for their budget.

Good causes are important, but a marketing person needs to build brand and a business development person needs to sell. Thinking in terms of partnerships means that you talk to prospects about how you can help them achieve their goals so that you can use their money to achieve yours.

Tip #2: Build your inventory of assets

In order to sell sponsorship, you need a product to sell! But didn’t I just say that your programs and mission are your products? OK, you got me! Let’s use the term “assets” when talking about what you can sell sponsors.

What is an asset? Simply put, it’s something you are willing to give a company in exchange for money. This could be logo placement, speaking opportunities, branded programs, exclusive product rights, lending your logo to a sponsor and everything and anything else that you think has value.

Brainstorm with your team and think big! Put everything on the table and think about what a prospect might have interest in. Then you take it all and put it into a sponsorship package with three levels, right? Not so fast!

Tip #3: Know what your assets are worth

Now you have a huge pile of assets that you are willing to sell. Next you have to figure out what they are worth. The most common approach is to look at your direct competition and copy them exactly. Please don’t do this! You should absolutely know what other events and charities are charging for their assets but at the end of the day, you have to come up with your own values.

What does a speaking opportunity cost to you? What will your market support? What are these things worth to a sponsor? This is the toughest part of cause marketing and the most vital…and the one that most people skip. You will absolutely be asked by your sponsors how you came up with a particular price and you will be asked to negotiate custom packages. It is vital that you know what each piece is truly worth.

Tip #4: Create a menu, not a sponsorship package

We’ve all seen the standard sponsorship packages with “Gold, Silver and Bronze” levels. If you don’t yet have the comfort level, or capacity, to do a custom package for every single sponsorship then rather than building a standard package, create a menu of items that you can use to explore the interests of your prospects.

Let your prospects tell you what they like and what is valuable to them and use that to build a custom package using the valuation information from the previous step. I work with charities and companies, both interested in sponsorship, and I can tell you that I have yet to represent a company who was happy with everything they saw in standard package or level. Standard packages cause your prospects to shop around to other charities to find a package that fits their needs. Why not work with your prospect to find something perfect for them to avoid them shopping around? We are going to talk a lot more about customization in the next post in this series.

Tip #5: Build a pipeline of prospects and make contact now!

When you meet with your team to brainstorm your inventory, use the opportunity to come up with a list of every prospect that you should be talking to. Involve your board of directors, volunteers and committees to come up with your list of prospects and start by reaching out to those with the warmest contact. Because most companies make their decisions in the fall, you want to start reaching out now to get on their radar. We are going to explore some techniques to get the meeting in the second part of this series.

Stay tuned! The next post will focus on how to build a sponsorship package, how to get prospects to return your calls, agree to meet and what to do when you get the meeting.

Chris Baylis is a fundraising professional with expertise in cause marketing, sponsorship and corporate social responsibility (CSR). Chris has managed both national and local campaigns and is a board member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals in Ottawa. Chris is also the Founder and Chief Blogger for The Sponsorship Collective and can be found on Twitter writing about all things cause marketing.

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