Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9pm ET. This is excerpted from my recent interview with @anisharkeeys. Anisha Robinson Keeys is the Principal Officer of Best Practice Fundraising. With 14 years of nonprofit fundraising and marketing experience,she has raised over $52 million dollars in the areas of youth and women’s empowerment, disaster relief, arts, and health care. Learn more about Anisha at bestpracticefundraising.org.
Small Biz Lady: What does it mean for an organization, brand or person to get sponsored?
Anisha Robinson Keeys: Sponsorship is a mutual business proposition that offers something in exchange for a financial commitment from a corporation. Corporations get a return on their financial “investment,” enhance their profile, associate their brand with a cause or attract customers who support that cause. Sponsorship typically involves a contractual relationship between the non profit and the corporate sponsor
Small Biz Lady: How do you even get started pursuing sponsorship?
Anisha Robinson Keeys: Getting funding from corporations may be a great opportunity for your organization to increase your budget but– you should never haphazardly create a corporate sponsorship program for the sake of filling a budget deficit Before pursuing support from corporations, you first need to know your organizations goals, and then ask and answer these questions:
- What is your organization trying to achieve?
- Can you effectively tell your organizations story?
- What value could your organization provide to a prospective corporate sponsor?
- What impact could a corporation make by partnering with your organization?
Small Biz Lady: Why would a corporation want to sponsor me, my brand or my organization?
Anisha Robinson Keeys: Corporations must market, sell, build brand loyalty and long term repeat customers. The bottom line is if you can offer an opportunity for a corporation to positively influence their ideal customer or advance their marketing objectives, there is an opportunity for you to get sponsored.
Small Biz Lady: What are some of the biggest challenges when seeking sponsorship?
Anisha Robinson Keeys: Two of the biggest challenges are crafting a strong value proposition: What can you offer that will give sponsors a good return on their financial investment. The second big challenge is getting the attention of a sponsor when you don’t already have a relationship with them.
Small Biz Lady: Who makes funding decisions within a corporation? Who should you approach?
Anisha Robinson Keeys: There are no hard and fast rules about who makes the funding decision in corporations. Many companies have multiple buckets of funding available through different teams, products or business lines. It’s important to do your research about the funding available and evaluate whether your value proposition fits within what the corporations goals for the funding. The Community Relations, Marketing, Public Relations and Sales Teams are great teams to contact first.
Small Biz Lady: How do you even reach those people?
Anisha Robinson Keeys: The best approach is to identify your “connectors” and leverage the relationships that exist between you and your prospective sponsor. Take some time to write out that list of “connectors” that you know, then think of their potential connections.
Small Biz Lady: How do I determine my value or what to “sell” to an organization?
Anisha Robinson Keeys: First, you need to determine what your prospective sponsors business goals are and how what you and your organization can help them meet those goals. This can require some digging. Great places to start researching the goals of a prospective sponsor include: their recent press releases, annual reports.
Find out what demographic audience your potential sponsor is most interested in. One great way to collect a demographic analysis is to collect the press and or media kits from the types of magazines or radio station that audience reads or listens to.
Small Biz Lady: As you craft your sponsorship offerings, what should you keep in mind?
Anisha Robinson Keeys: It’s not all about offering to promote a sponsors logo. Think of meaningful opportunities to connect your sponsor to their core audience–that goes beyond logo recognition. Think about it–does an organization like Pepsi really need to splash their logo on your event or project so that people will continue to drink Pepsi?
Small Biz Lady: What makes a great sponsorship proposal?
Anisha Robinson Keeys: Overall, your proposal should be a through representation of your organization, and the value of partnering. View your sponsorship proposal as a business pitch, with professionally presented content and layout, and make sure the proposal can stand on its own if you are unable to get a face to face meeting with your prospect.
Small Biz Lady: What are some examples of successful corporate partnerships?
Anisha Robinson Keeys: Lexus often sponsors valet parking at high end galas. It’s a way for them to get visibility among an audience that could be potential Lexus owners. Many cell phone carriers have set up cell charging stations at events. It gives them a chance to not only fill a need (an uncharged cell phone) but demonstrate how their products work.
Small Biz Lady: What other types of benefits can an organization offer to a potential sponsor?
Anisha Robinson Keeys:
- Access to VIPs
- Client entertainment opportunities
- Complimentary or discounted admission tickets to special events
- Opportunities for employees to participate/volunteer
- Employee team building
- Sampling, couponing and sales
- Access to Mailing Lists
- Opportunity to collect data from constituents
- Mention in press releases
- Access to promotional giveaways
- Mailing inserts
- Discounted media buys
Small Biz Lady: Do you have any final tips?
Anisha Robinson Keeys: Approach potential sponsors with confidence and remember that you are offering value that can advance their objectives. Be persistent as you will hear “no” much more than you hear “yes”