The Four Vital Steps To Sponsorship Success
30 April 2015 at 11:27 am
To keep the sponsorship journey flowing from one stage to the next, sponsorship expert Abby Clemence offers her top tips on building a successful Not for Profit strategy.
The cycle of planning, finding, connecting with and keeping committed long term corporate partners should be an ongoing process that flows effortlessly from one stage to the next.
When all parts come together moving seamlessly from stage to stage, your opportunity for infinite sponsorship success is exponentially maximised.
In order to build a successful sponsorship strategy for your Not for Profit or charity, there are four things you need to know above all else.
These four things are:
1. How to PLAN your sponsorship approach.
2. How to FIND the sponsors that want to work with you.
3. How to CONNECT with the right brands for your organisation.
4. How to KEEP your partners year after year.
The importance of preparing for sponsorship success is often the most underestimated (or by-passed altogether) stage of creating a sponsorship strategy for Not for Profit organisations.
When you decide that your organisation or event is ready to engage sponsors, the process can be greatly streamlined by putting a plan into action that ensures you have everything in place in your sponsorship-seeking arsenal by the time you make your approach to a company or brand.
Your plan should focus on maximising internal capacity and support by ensuring the organisational processes, procedures, culture and team you have in place are robust and setting you up for success on all levels. Part of this planning phase includes creating a culture of ‘commercial acceptance’ that promotes whole-of-organisation buy-in and commitment to support your sponsorship-seeking efforts.
Organisations and events that enjoy great corporate support are the ones that know why their supporters are a potential target market to a corporate partner and what communication channels they can offer to leverage the ideal partnership. By taking the time to create a clear plan, you are ensuring that your organisation is in the best position to approach the right partners and fully support the sponsorship strategy you are seeking to implement.
Finding the companies and brands that are the ‘right fit’ to partner with your Not for Profit organisation or event is a vital part of the sponsorship seeking process. Unfortunately, this is where most Not for Profit sponsorship seekers choose to start their journey. The high priority need for new and greater sources of income to fund programs and service members drives many Not for Profits to arbitrarily approach any company who might be willing to provide them with money without fully understanding just how successful they could be if they had a clear plan of action.
The challenge is, that commencing your sponsorship seeking efforts in this phase means that you have missed vital steps in the process (like forgetting to create the foundation of your new house before putting the walls in) and so the likelihood of long-term success is drastically minimised. Unless you know what you have to offer, are supported internally and have policies in place that define how your organisation sees corporate partnerships, then you are potentially building your house on sand… and we all know how that turns out.
Finding the companies and brands that are willing to align with your organisation is not just about asking ‘who are we going to approach?’ This part of the process means taking the time to value your offering to potential sponsors, do your research to ensure a strong alignment, build relationships with potential partners and craft a compelling sponsorship proposal.
Connecting with corporate partners who are aligned with your mission and see you as a thought leader in your field as well as a direct route to their target market is a milestone worth celebrating!
Understandably, many Not for Profits get to this stage of the process with feelings elation, knowing that this investment will benefit their supporters, research projects and the future of their mission. This natural excitement can all too often lead many organisations to then take their focus back to their ‘core work’ and new sponsors and fresh promises of access are left forgotten, leading to difficult conversations, uncomfortable relationships and no chance of renewal or investment for the following year.
Part of the road to infinite sponsorship success means securing that connection. Ensuring you have the right tools and processes in place to make it as easy as possible for a partner to stay with you and enjoy the experience of becoming part of your ‘community’s family’.
If you want to connect with corporate partners, ensure you do it properly; secure the partnership with a legally binding contract and publicly announce the partnership, ensuring that you are both ‘singing from the rooftops’ about the great work you will do together.
There will inevitably be times when difficult conversations with sponsors may arise but having strategies to manage this discourse as well as tactics to deal with difficult sponsors and personalities will ensure that you are not caught off guard and potentially exit a relationship that may just need some nurturing.
Lastly, and most importantly, measuring the investment for your sponsor and reporting regularly on what is your responsibility to deliver as part of the partnership is essential. These elements, if managed well, create a strong and lasting connection with sponsors.
Keeping your sponsors is the name of the game! If you’ve employed months of hard work to engage your ideal corporate partner the last thing you want is to lose them because you haven’t delivered what you promised, or worse, created expectations that you weren’t able to keep.
It’s inevitable that partnerships will come to an end at some point and as long as you are able to identify what is happening then you can still maintain respectful and collegiate relationships. However, sometimes things just don’t work out – what do you do then?
This phase is about ensuring that you are in control with tools and strategies at your disposal that help you review outcomes and re-evaluate your sponsorships each year, identify whether its best for your organisation to re-engage or exit the partnership and manage situations that may arise where you may have to 'chalk it up' to experience and move on.
Your goal should always be to keep your sponsorship journey flowing from one stage to the next. Learning as you go, refining your processes and taking your time to grow with your sponsors.
About the Author: Abby Clemence is the Managing Director of Infinity Sponsorship and Founder of the world's first online Sponsorship University for Not for Profits and charities has created a free sponsorship health check that allows organisations to evaluate the areas of development in their Not for Profit’s sponsorship strategy.