May’s Learning@Lunch focused on 7 sponsorship trends highlighted at the March IEG Conference in Chicago. Thank you to Lauren Kelly (National MS Society) for helping us cover the IEG conference information. This material was presented by Joy Stephens and Linda Peffer.
- Offer social media and digital visibility for sponsors
There are several facets to this point. Make sure that your nonprofit is active on your social media platforms and is cultivating a following. Offering digital visibility doesn’t mean anything to a sponsor if you have nobody watching. A second great point that was made was to say more than just “Thank you to our sponsor _______ for their support.” Spend some time to create a deeper, more valuable message about your sponsors brand to your audience.
- Think of ways that sponsors can incorporate experiential marketing at an event
Sponsors want an opportunity to connect with participants in a personal, organic manner. People will remember an experience much more than picking up a flyer. We talked specifically about Alaska Airline bringing in beautiful model airplanes to display at an event. It is not always easy to think of ways to facilitate a meaningful interaction between sponsors and guests. Take your time and get creative! Find ways for your donors to experience your sponsor’s brand.
- Sponsors want a meaningful partnership with organizations
Sponsors want organizations to think transformational not transactional. Come into your sponsorship meeting prepared with knowledge of the company and creative ideas on how to further their mission and goals through your sponsorship.
We also discussed the advantages of proposing a multi-year relationship. It takes a lot of time and effort for a company to research and approve a nonprofit. It is much easier to renew a partnership than start a new one. It may be hard to approach a new sponsorship opportunity and ask for a multi-year commitment, but a well thought out partnership shows that your organization is thinking deeper than a one-off partnership.
- Bring sponsors in at the highest level possible
Although it seems easier to make an ask for a small amount of money, there are several advantages for making a large ask. As we learned from Sam Whiting from Boeing at CGN’s March Conference, companies are tending toward choosing one or 2 causes to champion and then largely only sponsoring in those areas. Finding a well-aligned company and making a large, well-thought-out ask can be very successful. Also, sponsorship asks may be negotiated down, so starting higher is a smart idea.
- The more sponsors an event has, the more it dilutes the value
We have all seen a sponsor page filled with numerous logos. Consider trying to secure a few, large sponsors with creative ways to showcase their brand adding value to the partnership.
- Try a customizable sponsorship instead of a set Gold, Silver, Bronze package.
A new, effective trend is to provide potential sponsors with a menu of options as opposed to a preset package. Place a value on each of these assets. When meeting with a potential partner, allow the sponsor to select which options they want. This way they get what they’re paying for.
- Demonstrate the sponsor’s return on investment (ROI)
It is essential that a nonprofit shows their sponsor how their sponsorship was used, and more importantly, how their benefits were fulfilled. Take the time to create a report showing all the ways that the benefits were delivered. In addition, make an appointment to meet in person to go over this document. This is a great opportunity to ask for a sponsorship renewal and expansion.
Thank you to everyone who attended the May Learning@Lunch. Our next session is on June 8 at the Museum of Flight. We look forward to seeing you there!
Content Contributed by Tori Braunston