Understanding Sponsorship Perfection
28 August 2014 at 11:16 am
It’s not enough to just want sponsorship investment, Not for Profits need to have a plan, be prepared to invest in relationships and be backed by a leadership team with a corporate mindset and community-service hearts, writes sponsorship expert Abby Clemence.
In looking for sponsorship ‘perfection’ Not for Profits need to understand the importance of building an organisational culture of commercial acceptance from the inside out
Not for Profit organisations that are wildly successful in their sponsorship-seeking efforts understand three key things.
# 1 – They are a business. They are in the business of service delivery and their members, supporters or followers are their customers. Just because they disseminate their profits (or surplus) differently to for-profit companies makes little difference to how they view and manage their organisation.
# 2 – Sponsorship is a business decision for a company, not a donation. They understand that sponsorship funds come out of a company’s marketing budget, meaning the opportunity that they are presenting is now competing with all the avenues a potential sponsor is planning to promote their products and services over the coming year.
# 3 – They are a valuable marketing partner to the right company. They know that they can offer access to a ‘warm’ target market a potential sponsor is not yet doing business with.
So, how does your Not for Profit measure up?
There are many measures of success for Not for Profits; and organisations that embody a strong, positive culture of commercial acceptance are the ones that consistently enjoy the greatest levels of sponsorship success.
What is ‘commercial acceptance’? In a nutshell, it is the acceptance and adherence to the three keys outlined earlier. Another way to look at it is to ask whether your organisation is ‘sponsor friendly’?
A sponsor-friendly organisation values the opportunity they represent to the right sponsor. They also understand the process companies go through when assessing sponsorship opportunities, including that potential partners will be looking to take advantage of their supporter base in order to sell more products and services.
Traits of sponsorship-friendly organisations include the passionate reinforcement that everyone associated with their organisation be an advocate and a fundraiser – dedicated to both their mission and why they exist to serve their supporters.
Other characteristics of successful Not for Profit sponsorship partners are ones that constantly benchmark themselves against questions like ‘what real difference are we making in our community, profession, industry?’ and assess their success by the outcomes they achieve rather than the processes they have in place. Building a strong culture takes time, persistence and a commitment by the organisation’s leadership.
If you’re not sure whether you could describe your organisation as having a culture of commercial acceptance, go no further than asking your office-bearers and management what they think of sponsorship in relation to your organisation. You may be surprised to discover that a significant number of people, whilst acutely aware of the need to diversify income streams, aren’t convinced of the merits of sponsorship.
They may see it only as a necessary burden to be endured in order to raise money.
Many Not for Profits struggle with the concept of corporate sponsorship because they do not understand that it is a business decision for a company and not a ‘heart’ decision.
If you think your organisation could use some assistance to become more aware of the concept of commercial acceptance, or move closer to becoming more ‘sponsor-friendly’, creating a policy that frames how your organisation values corporate relationships is important. It will also be all the more valuable to have people contribute to and ‘own’ the policy, than to simply present one that needs to be adhered to.
The corporate sponsorship journey can be as complex or as simple as your organisation wishes to make it. One thing’s for certain, it’s not enough to just want sponsorship investment, you need to have a plan, be prepared to invest in relationships and be backed by a leadership team with a corporate mindset and community-service hearts.
Remember one thing – ‘perfection means not perfect actions in a perfect world, but appropriate actions in an imperfect one.’
About the Author: Abby Clemence is the Managing Director of Infinity Sponsorship, a Queensland-based national consultancy. She has just published a free e-book for Not for Profits called ‘8 easy steps to turn cold calls into hot prospects.’