A guest post by Adam Weinger, Double the Donation
As your nonprofit strives to make a positive impact on society, forging connections with like-minded businesses can extend your reach and help you pursue your mission more effectively. Cross-sector partnerships involve more than just financial transactions—they demand a strategic approach, effective communication, and a commitment to shared values.
In this guide, we’ll explore four best practices that will enable your nonprofit to secure corporate sponsors and nurture these partnerships for long-term success.
Understand Their Goals
According to 360MatchPro’s guide to corporate social responsibility (CSR), businesses often have several objectives in mind when sponsoring a nonprofit. For instance, they might be looking to engage employees, connect with new customers, improve their reputation, and make an impact on their larger community.
Take these expectations into consideration as you develop an overarching goal for the partnership, ensuring that it is mutually beneficial and SMART:
- Specific: Sponsorship goals should be clearly defined and focused, leaving no room for ambiguity.
- Measurable: Include specific metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs) to allow for quantifiable progress tracking.
- Achievable: Ensure that the goals are attainable within the context of your respective time, reach, and resources.
- Relevant: Align the goals with the overarching objectives of both your nonprofit and corporate sponsor.
- Time-bound: Setting a specific timeframe or deadline for achieving the goals creates a sense of urgency and helps with project management.
Let’s say a nonprofit focuses on providing education to underprivileged youth and partners with a corporate sponsor that shares its commitment to community empowerment. An example of a mutually beneficial goal for the partnership could be to establish a mentorship program and provide career guidance to 100 underprivileged high school students within the fiscal year.
Customize Sponsorship Proposals
Rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach to sponsorship proposals, customize them to meet each sponsor’s needs and demonstrate that your organization is committed to delivering individualized value.
For the best results, incorporate the following details into your sponsorship proposal:
- Contribution expectations: Conduct thorough research into the business’s financial well-being and past CSR initiatives. Then, use these insights to build your case for support and define the financial or in-kind contributions that you expect to receive.
- Target audience: Corporate sponsors are often interested in reaching new customers through a nonprofit partnership. Research their target demographic and explain your access to that audience. For example, you might say something along the lines of, “We understand that your customers are primarily college students. At our last benefit concert, 87% of the participants were young adults aged 18-24.”
- Tailored benefits: Offer incentives that cater to the sponsor’s interests, such as logo placement in promotional materials, recognition in targeted communication channels, or exclusive access to VIP events or programs.
Consider creating an enticing menu of sponsorship tiers. Ask potential sponsors to choose a sponsorship package with the benefits and involvement that best suit their needs. For instance, the lowest level might require a $1,000 donation in exchange for a social media shoutout, whereas a $10,000 donation will result in a full-page spread about the business in your newsletter. This system allows you to accommodate large corporations seeking extensive exposure as well as smaller businesses looking for more modest involvement.
Deliver on Promises
Fulfill all the promises made in your sponsorship agreements, whether that be providing the agreed-upon marketing opportunities, promoting the sponsor to a specific audience, or extending the appropriate recognition.
For example, let’s say your education-focused nonprofit promises a sponsor that their funding will provide scholarships to underprivileged students to attend a summer enrichment program. In this case, ensure that the scholarships are awarded as intended and students have access to the program. Then, summarize your efforts in a report that you provide to the sponsor, outlining the number of students benefiting, their progress, and any notable success stories.
When businesses see that your nonprofit can hold up its end of the deal, it validates their decision to invest and signals a willingness to nurture a long-term relationship. This can lead to more sustained support and ongoing collaboration, as both parties recognize the value of the partnership beyond short-term transactions.
Promote Open Communication
Maintaining open lines of communication is a basic tenant of professionalism. Use the following channels to connect with sponsors and gather feedback about their experiences with your nonprofit:
- Email: Send personalized updates, newsletters, and event invitations directly to sponsors’ inboxes.
- Social media: Leverage social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to share the impact of their contributions and tap into their potentially expansive networks.
- In-person meetings: Organize meetings or conferences to connect with sponsors face-to-face, answer questions or concerns, and discuss future initiatives.
Additionally, consider designating a point of contact from your nonprofit staff to communicate with corporate sponsors and serve as a liaison between the two organizations. They can provide timely responses to inquiries, address concerns, and coordinate logistics, creating a positive experience for the sponsor.
Don’t underestimate the power of appreciation. eCardWidget’s guide to donor recognition recommends taking the following steps to acknowledge and thank your corporate sponsors for their support:
- Personalize thank-you letters. Send personal thank-you letters to express your sincere gratitude for their support and highlight the specific achievements that you’ve made with their help.
- Provide public recognition: Recognize corporate sponsors on your website, your digital donor wall, social media platforms, and in your marketing materials to publicly showcase their commitment to your cause.
- Host exclusive events. Host recognition events or ceremonies where sponsors are celebrated to create a memorable partnership experience and positive impression of your organization.
- Publish impact reports. Provide corporate sponsors with impact reports that detail the outcomes resulting from their support and demonstrate how their contributions have made a difference for your nonprofit’s beneficiaries.
These forms of recognition not only inform sponsors about the tangible results of their support but also reinforce their sense of purpose and commitment to your organization.
Adam Weinger is the President of Double the Donation, the leading provider of tools to nonprofits to help them raise more money from corporate matching gift and volunteer grant programs.
Double the Donation’s robust solution, 360MatchPro, provides nonprofits with automated tools to identify match-eligible donors, drive matches to completion, and gain actionable insights. 360MatchPro integrates directly into donation forms, CRMs, social fundraising software, and other nonprofit technology solutions to capture employment information and follow up appropriately with donors about matching gifts.