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Not for Profit Sponsorship Myth #1

4 June 2015 at 10:56 am
Lina Caneva
One of the most common sponsorship myths facing the Not for Profit sector is that sponsorship and philanthropy are the same thing, writes sponsorship expert Abby Clemence.

Lina Caneva | 4 June 2015 at 10:56 am


Not for Profit Sponsorship Myth #1
4 June 2015 at 10:56 am

One of the most common sponsorship myths facing the Not for Profit sector is that sponsorship and philanthropy are the same thing, writes sponsorship expert Abby Clemence.

Every Not for Profit organisation and charity 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 supporters, the government, donors, sponsors or thought leaders, it is vital to understand the role each stakeholder 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 investment by presenting opportunities to sell more products and services as a result of their alignment with you.

The challenge that prevents many potentially successful sponsorship relationships from flourishing is the language that Not for Profit sponsorship seekers 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 thing.  

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 and connect with their target market.  That means it will be a marketing expense.  

Just like other marketing expenses, your sponsorship proposal is competing against their television advertising campaign 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 Not for Profit because you are offering a company an opportunity to want to do good in the community, then it’s a gift, a donation.  

Unfortunately, time and again companies tend to assume, as soon as you introduce yourself as being from a Not-For-Profit 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.

Seeking sponsorship means that you need to ensure that you make it clear from the outset that you are offering them an opportunity to promote their business and brand 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 Not for Profit sponsorship seekers, fundraisers and event co-ordinators and the perceived 'lack of professionalism' and 'entitled' behaviour in the Not for Profit sector. Whether this perception is truth 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 less about why your programs need funding and so on and give your organisation and the sector as a whole the opportunity to thrive.  

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.   

Lina Caneva  |  Editor  |  @ProBonoNews

Lina Caneva has been a journalist for more than 35 years. She was the editor of Pro Bono Australia News from when it was founded in 2000 until 2018.

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