Corporate Partnership Versus Sponsorship
There’s a new paradigm in corporate sponsorships; it’s called partnership. This means development professionals need to treat corporate partners like we treat major donors. In addition, we need to plan further ahead to allow corporate partners the time they need to review all our partnership opportunities for the year — not one at a time.
Therefore, sponsorships should be packaged and offer corporations a variety of ways to partner with your organization.
When developing a corporate sponsorship package, go beyond marketing your special events. Our experience has shown that developing an integrated corporate marketing program better serves the organization and its corporate partners.
Many nonprofits have more than two events a year. Consider your development calendar. Would a corporation be interested in sponsoring more than one of your events? Do you have the time to ask for corporate sponsorship more than once from the same corporation? Does that corporation want to see you asking for money all the time?
If you present one package that represents all the opportunities for sponsorship support, your time is better spent; the corporation makes an informed decision; and budgeting by both of you is more easily accomplished. It becomes very clear why an integrated corporate marketing program is so important.
Now here’s the real impact of a truly integrated corporate sponsorship package. In addition to all special events, your package offers sponsorship of programs, materials printing and any advertising. Talk to the corporate contact about the impact of a program that reaches a particular population, and watch the interest grow. Program outreach and sponsorship can include:
* Materials you need printed for the program, with a printed “thank you” or logo tastefully placed on the back;
* Posters that bring people to the program;
* A banner that you hang at the program or meeting; and
* Ongoing program support or brochures.
It’s easy to create an integrated corporate marketing program when you begin with your special events. Look at all your events and determine what event assets are available for sponsorship or corporate recognition. They can include invitations, banners, posters, T-shirts, program books, advertisements, tents, billboards, staging, tables, receptions, food, Web logos and links, newsletter recognition, annual reports, letterhead, and envelopes.
The list can go on endlessly depending on your events. Then determine what levels of sponsorship you want for each event or the entire program. We find it easier to keep levels the same as much as possible from event to event and program to program. Sponsorships can begin at $1,000 or $5,000 and go up from there. Remember to always have a level above the highest level you have currently received for partnership support. That tells the highest partner there is somewhere to go.
It becomes confusing when each event has different levels of sponsorship, so consistency here is well advised — but not required.
Once you’ve determined the levels, then take all of the possible sponsorship benefits for each event or program and divide them among the levels. It’s easiest to start at the highest level and offer everything, then take opportunities away as you move down through the different levels. Some things to remember as you allocate benefits:
* An integrated corporate marketing program contains every possible and available benefit your organization is willing to “sell” to a corporate partner.
* In addition to the sponsorship opportunities, an integrated corporate sponsorship package also includes everything a corporation and its marketing department would want to know about your organization. Remember that this is a strategic — not charitable — decision by the corporation. The people making the decision want to know what their return on investment will be. Who will they reach, and what impact can they have?
Now that you have an integrated corporate marketing program in place, your event and program sponsorships should fall into place. You should be able to “sell” your sponsorships more effectively. More importantly, with a “one-stop” corporate partnership program, you should be able to spend more time cultivating your sponsors and less time soliciting them.
Barbara Talisman is director of development and corporate relations for Chicago Cares.