[VIDEO] How Nonprofits Can Attract, Cultivate, and Wow Corporate Sponsors

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Do you dread finding sponsors for your next event? Are you tired of offering the same levels and benefits year after year? There’s a better way, and you can learn it from Joanna Hogan during this webinar!

Full Transcript:

Steven: All right. Joanna, my watch just struck one o’clock is. Is it okay if I go ahead and kick us off officially?

Joanna: Yeah. Let’s go.

Steven: All right. Cool. Well, good afternoon everyone if you are on the East Coast and good morning I should say if you were on the West Coast or somewhere in between. Thanks for being here for today’s Bloomerang webinar, “How to Attract, Cultivate, and Wow Corporate Sponsors.” And my name is Steven Shattuck and I am the chief engagement officer over here at Bloomerang. And I’ll be moderating today’s discussion, as always. And just a couple of housekeeping items before we begin officially.

Just want to let you all know that we are recording this session and we will get that recording to you as well as the slides, later on this afternoon. So, if you have to leave early, we’d hate for you to miss anything but if you do have to leave early, don’t sweat it too much. We’ll get you to that recording. You can finish up the rest of the content, can even share that with a friend or a colleague. We’d love for you to do that as well, so just look for an email from me this afternoon, we’ll get you all those goodies.

Most importantly, as you are listening today, feel free to use that chat box right there on your webinar screen. I know a lot of you have already done that. So, thank you. Please, don’t be shy about sending questions and comments our way. We are going to save some time at the end for Q&A. We’re going to try to answer just as many questions as we can before 2 o’clock, but please do that. You can also do that on Twitter, I’ll keep an eye on the Twitter feed as well.

And one last housekeeping item, if you have any trouble with the audio through your computer speakers or maybe you’re feeling like it’s not keeping up with the slides, we usually find that the audio by phone is a lot better. So, rather than giving up on us completely, try dialing in by phone if you can, if you don’t mind doing that, there is a phone number just for you in the email from ReadyTalk that went out around noon today. So, give that a try before you totally give up on us, usually it’s a little bit better quality.

And if this is your first Bloomerang webinar, I just want to say an extra-special welcome to you folks. We do these webinars almost every single Thursday. We only miss a couple Thursdays of the year. We’ve got a great guest, totally educational session. One of our favorite things we do here at Bloomerang, but if you’ve never heard of Bloomerang, our core business I guess I should say is donor management software. So, if you are interested in that or maybe you’re thinking about switching or just kind of want to check out what we have to offer, you can visit our website.

Please, do that after the session, don’t do that now. I would hate for you to miss any of this good stuff, but you can do that, check out our website. You can even watch a quick video demo and see the software in action. Don’t even have to talk to a salesperson, you don’t want to. So, check that out later on.

But for now, I am very, very excited to introduce today’s guest. She is dialing in from beautiful Grand Rapids, Michigan. We have Joanna Hogan, on the line here. Hey, Joanna, how’s it going?

Joanna: Hi. Going great. Thanks for having me.

Steven: Oh, thanks for being here. You kind of saved my skin a little bit. We had a last-minute opening in our schedule. And Joanna and I had been talking for actually I think a couple months about doing a session and was very gracious and willing to come on and join us on short notice. So, you guys are in for a real treat. Got a lot of registrants, more registrants than we normally get, so, I think we definitely hit a nerve with this topic as well. So, I’m going to pass things over to Joanna, in just a second. I want to brag on her real quick.

If you guys aren’t following Joanna, check out her website, strategicfundraisingcoach.com. Really smart, knows her stuff, has a lot of experience. She has over two decades of experience working with and four nonprofits. A couple of standouts items on her resume is she led a seven and a half million dollar advancement campaign, over at the Clark Foundation where she was a VP. And she also helped raise $90 million for Michigan State University’s Secchia Center during their campaign. Has done what she is going to talk about today. I think that’s the one of the most important things I look for in our guests. And she’s got some great ideas for you on corporate sponsorships, right in time for event season.

So, Joanna, I don’t want to take any more time away from you. Tell us all about corporate sponsorships.

Joanna: All right. Well, thank you for that nice introduction. I thought it might be helpful for me to start by giving you a little background on how I got to this place. You know, in terms of where I got started and how I got the experience that I have that has brought me to where I’m at today. So, I’ll start with the early ’90s. I was the senior center director and supervisor of community services for Forest Hills Public Schools. And throughout my career, I was always responsible for generating revenue. It seems like I just always had that opportunity to look for ways to raise funds.

We built the Forest Hill Fine Arts Center in the early 2000s. I was in charge of sponsorship for the professional shows. And so, that was Broadway, big bands, big stars were coming in, and it was a 1,200 seat theater. I’m going to just change the slide here, so that you can see picture of the interior.

So, when I was doing sponsorships for the Fine Arts Center, back then we had really hearty training budgets. So, I was able to learn about sponsorship from the very best. Alongside my colleagues who are raising money for the Olympics and for NASCAR. It was in 2005, where I really learned how to secure sponsorships like the pros. And believe me they did not use canned packages with predetermined benefits. And so, quickly needed to change my perspective and my approach, and it was a really exciting time.

Then, sponsorships were great, that I have this opportunity to become a development director at the West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology, a wonderful nonprofit. It was amazing. And my job was to make sure we had a million dollars a year coming in annually, well, a million dollars a year. Since, I had been successful selling sponsorships, I confidently took this job. And I was like, I can do this.

But it didn’t take me long to realize there was an entire body of knowledge that I didn’t have. And when you’re asking someone for money and you have nothing tangible to give people in exchange for the money, well, that’s awkward and uncomfortable. So, that’s when I truly understood the difference between sponsorship and philanthropy, which we’re going to talk about more in a little bit.

Then, later, I got this wonderful job at MSU with the College of Human Medicine, worked on a $90 million campaign with a small team. And I had this aha moment when we were planning the opening gala. I was getting these beautifully designed sponsorship brochures with levels and predetermined benefits. [inaudible 00:07:10] you know, use uniquely names, like, you could be in the discovery sponsor, or the visionary sponsor, or innovation sponsor. But still, these were canned and the benefits were pretty standard, like, logos, tickets, recognition.

It was kind of painful for me to go back to doing it this way, but it’s really what they gave me to work with and what the sponsors had come to expect. Then, I had the opportunity to work for the Clark Foundation and lead the $7.5 million Vibrant Community campaign. Here’s a picture of the ribbon-cutting ceremony. And this was an extraordinarily successful campaign because the leadership was strong and faithful. It was definitely a team effort and I had an amazing mentor who was my fundraising coach.

So, today, I’m a fundraising coach because I remember vividly how it feels to be new, and alone, and insecure in experience. So, you know, that’s why I’m here doing what I’m doing today. So, if you’re following along in the workbook, I don’t know if you had a chance to download that. But you can just look through that, you’ll see that we’re going to go through this step-by-step. I just want to assure you that this is going to be really valuable for you and I want to thank you for attending today.

So, I’ve come to discover that, there’s really eight keys to success when it comes to sponsorships. It’s a webinar, we only have 45 to 60 minutes, and so, we’re going to focus on just four of them. And so, I bolded, if you see on the slides in your workbook, you’ll notice that I’ve bolded the ones that we’re going to talk about.

So, let me just go through them here. So, developing the right mindset, understanding your audience, important to develop an inventory of valuable benefits, attracting the right sponsors, listen and seek to solve problems, cultivate mutually-beneficial relationships, write compelling proposals, and create sponsor loyalty that last.

So, when it comes to developing the right mindset, I think it’s important to talk about the most common myths and misconceptions around sponsorships. Why change is necessary, why we need to do things differently than we have been. And then, I’m just going to also kind of talk about the big picture. So, let me get to the next slide here?

Sponsorship myths. Number one myth is that sponsorship is philanthropy. Sponsorship is really a business proposition that offers a value in exchange for money. Philanthropy however is motivated by altruism. There’s no financial or material reward. And it is really important that we understand that. There are hybrid sponsorships for sure, but fundamentally sponsorship and philanthropy are very different.

Another myth is that money is scarce. We all feel like we’re in competition for the same dollars. But there’s really no shortage of money. Sponsorships been steadily growing over the past 10 years and despite national and global political matters, it’s projected to rise another almost 5% this year, bringing it to 24.2 billion in the United States and 65.8 billion globally. So, we really can’t afford to have a scarcity mentality.

I sometimes think we visualize about this pie. We have this pie in our mind and we think if there’s, there’s only so many pieces of pie, right? So, if one organization gets a huge sponsorship when there’s less money for us. Well, that would be like, life is a zero-sum game and if I were to become richer, then you would have to become poorer. And we know that isn’t true. The pie can just get bigger. So, we need to remember, this is just a myth that money is scarce.

And then the third myth is that one-size-fits-all. Those canned packages they don’t attract big sponsors. We need to move away from predetermined levels to standard benefits to custom packages that help our sponsors achieve their goals. So, in terms of, why change? Why should you do things differently? Well, the old way which is actually the normal ways these days is boring. It’s predictable. It doesn’t add a whole lot of value for your sponsors.

Often those sponsor benefits are kind of hard to measure and we all know those standard benefits that we provide like signage and logo and mentions at the podium, they provide a low return on investment. So, we just can’t keep doing it that way.

The big picture here is that you need to focus on your sponsors’ needs and goals and then offer relevant and meaningful benefits. And so, this is in your workbook, you’ll see there’s four. Remember those eight steps? There’s four that we’re going to cover today. The first one is how to attract the right sponsors. And we’re going to do that by touching on how important is to expand your thinking, to know what questions to ask for deep research, and then I’m going to give you some resources for research.

So, I’m talking about expanding your thinking. You know, there’s categories of sponsors, different industries. And I think it’s helpful to make a list of what categories are you getting sponsorships from now. And then, start thinking outside that box. So, I want to take a minute for us to kind of share ideas together in your chat box, if you could just jot down some of the categories that you get sponsors from. I’m talking like banks, restaurants, retail, you know, how . . . we typically see sponsorship coming from the same kind of industry. I’m going to touch on some of the hot categories that are new.

But I’d like to see what you’re saying here. So, county medical practice hospitals and clinics, funeral homes, yup, and of course it depends on what kind of event that you’re putting on. Law firm, real estate. Love this, people are sharing really fast and furious, so you can hardly keep up. But what I’m seeing here is everything from construction, and real estate, and oil companies. Some of you might be thinking, wow, I’m typically just going with a few of these but there’s some new ones here, mattress companies, real estate developers.

Let’s talk about some of the hot categories I’ve become aware of. One of them is car dealerships. So, there’s a lot of destruction going on right now in the auto industry because of the growing popularity of rideshare services. Also, there are some increased sales of electric vehicles and pretty soon there’s going to be self-driving vehicles. So, depending on the size of your event and your target market, you might want to help them use sponsorship to reach new audiences.

But property and casualty insurance is always in the top 10, especially if you’ve got a sporting events that you’re trying to get sponsorship for. Health insurance companies, often want to promote health and fitness and want to reach the older market like senior citizens. I heard someone here just said on hospitals. Yeah, they definitely want to demonstrate community involvement and often they want to promote a specific expertise.

Now, this one might surprise you, college savings plans. They want to educate consumers and educate parents and grandparents. So, that’s another kind of a unique one you may not have thought of. Beverages, yup, craft beers, alternative the beers are great for on-site sales and sample opportunities. So, we could brainstorm all day and what I recommend is that you do brainstorm. Like brainstorm with your colleagues, with your existing sponsors.

I actually think this is a great way to engage board members who don’t really want to help this fundraising because they think that’s all about asking. You can have them help you brainstorm new categories or new potential sponsors. And then, oh, category leaders. So, what I mean by that is, once you have these new categories that you may have not thought of before. Think about or try to figure out who are the leaders within those categories? Who are like the top three leaders?

And then as we move to the next slide here, it’s important to know what questions to ask. So, before you ever think about approaching the sponsors, you need to do some research. And when I talk about research, why would we want to do research? Like what’s the point? Well, I always like to start with the end in mind. And we’re all trying to do this. We’re all trying to approach the right sponsor, you know, the right person at the right for the right event and be able to ask them for the right amount.

And in order to do that, we’ve got to know them. And so, research is something that we’re doing so that when we end up making our pitch that we can do it in a way that’s comfortable and effective. So, in terms of what questions to be asking yourself, I’d look at their brand. What does it stand for? You know, how are they making their customers lives better? Are they launching any product? Are they communicating with their audience? I mean, how are they communicating with their audience? How do they typically engage in sponsorship? We often need to figure out who is making those decisions. It’s usually a marketing or PR manager or a dedicated sponsorship manager sometimes. And you need to find out when do they make their decisions because timing is everything.

And when it comes to resources for research, online research is really easy these days. You can go to their website, look at their about us and their corporate responsibility areas. Google, of course, social media, there’s tons of search engines. Hoovers.com is one that I often use to get information on corporation. If you have a favorite one though, by the way, just share it. I’d love to see if you’re doing research for corporations, are there any search engines that are favorites of yours.

As you share some of them, I’m going to tell you that even though the social media and online research is really helpful, someone just getting secondhand information. Think about who might have a relationship with that company? Maybe their colleagues, their board members, current sponsors. I like to keep my list handy, so when I was seeking sponsorships I would, or even when fundraising, I keep my list of donors with me. So, keep your list of sponsors with you so that when you have a chance to connect with a fundraising volunteer, you can ask them to review your list and maybe help make a warm introduction.

So, the question here, who was the resource you noted for researching? Stephanie asked. Hoovers.com, it’s H-O-O-V-E-R-S.com. This is one of many sites. And let’s see, yeah, so a couple people are asking me to repeat that, hoovers.com, H-O-O-V-E-R-S.com. There are a bunch of other options as well, such as database research, alternative search engines, and of course there’s ways to qualify your research so that you get more value and less time.

These are all things I go into more detail within my coaching programs. But for now the big takeaway is to make sure that you do your homework. That way you’re prepared before you go into a sponsor meeting.

So, before we move on, I just want to mention here that I have a free resource if you stay to the end. I have a sponsor research template that I’ve created, and it’s a great document because you can keep track of all of this information that you’ve gotten on them. Keep track of the information, stay organized, there’s even a communication blog where you can track the different steps you’ve taken with that person.

Okay. And so, the next section here that was coming up then is Cultivating Mutually Beneficial Relationships. So, we’re going to cover the importance of treating them as a partner versus just a sponsor. Focusing on what’s in it for them and then providing relevant and meaningful benefit. So, you know, when you think about what’s the difference between a partnership and a sponsorship. Well, sponsorships tend to be kind of transactional in nature, more one-sided. It’s not easy to renew those or upgrade them the following year. That’s why so many of us are, you know, you end up starting over earlier.

Whereas a partnership is a mutually beneficial relationship and you really want to go for a triple win because that’s where the partnership benefits the sponsors, the organization, and your attendees. And the goal is always to help the sponsor achieve their goals. And since this is a partnership, of course, you want to stay connected to them throughout the year and not only talk to them when you need something. Just like with the fundraising, we’re always told don’t touch your donors only when you need something. Well, I don’t know why we don’t apply that sponsors as well.

And one way to stay connected is to ask somebody to be a connection on LinkedIn and follow them, like their social media posts. One thing that’s been really helpful to me lately is Google Alerts because you can sign up. Go to Google Alerts and you can type in the name of a sponsor, either their or an individual. And then if something newsworthy happens in the news and you want to be able to acknowledge that or become aware, you’ll just get a little email.

And so, whenever one of my clients is in the news, I get an email and then now let’s just say one of your sponsors is a company that won an award for being one of the best places to work. Well then, you just got that little trigger, you can send a little email congratulating them. It’s just a handy way to stay in touch.

Let’s see here. So, what’s in it for them? It’s really important for you to understand sponsorships from their perspective and put yourself in their shoes. You know, they’re inundated with proposals, so if you want yours to rise to the top you have to be different. And I would like to say, I will try to remind myself that people don’t remember exactly what you said, they remember how you made them feel. So, when you’re going to have a meeting with a potential sponsor, you really want to take interest in them and find out what would they like to accomplish with their sponsorship dollars that would be meaningful to them.

Do they want you to give access for their target market? Are they trying to increase sales? Do they want to showcase products and services, demonstrate that they share the same priorities and values? Maybe they even want to change perceptions of their brand. So, there’s questions that you want to bring with you to a donor meeting. And these are some of the questions you might even want to write them down because they’re really valuable. They’re part of a list of 20 discovery questions that I go through in depth with my clients. So, you want to get as many of them as you can write down. These are actual questions I’ve used that have helped me end up providing the right benefits and close deals.

So, another one is, what’s the best sponsorship you’ve ever done and why? I love it when they’ll tell me stories about the best sponsorships they’ve ever done. And then, what kind of ROI did you get from that? What kind of ROI you need? And then another favorite of mine is if you can have any sponsorship benefit that you wanted, what would that be? Now, sometimes these sponsors are really . . . you might try this and they’ll be really surprised because no one’s ever asked them before. People typically just go and say, let me tell you all about us, and what we need, and would you give us money.

But by asking them, probing them, talking to them in their language and showing that you already understand their world, where they’re coming from, they will be willing to open up and tell you what they appreciate and what they don’t appreciate about being involved in sponsorships, and what they like and don’t like. So, that’s really part of this whole, creating a mutually beneficial relationship.

I’m going to share just a little story here. So, this is a picture of the Fine Arts Center where I mentioned earlier where I sold sponsorships for the professional shows. I thought it would be really great to have a high-end car dealership as a sponsor for one of our professional shows. So, since we share the same target market, I thought well maybe they’d like to have their cars on display in the lobby, because you could through the back, you could actually bring cars into this place.

And they pretty much laughed at me when I suggested cars on display in the lobby because they do that in malls for weeks on end where there’s really high traffic, seven days a week. You know, I’m basically offering them 1,200 people for a couple of nights. But once they were like, yeah, no, I don’t think that’s going to be real valuable for us. Well, then we started talking about well, what would be valuable? I wanted to know what could I do that would actually make a sponsorship so great that they couldn’t afford not to do it. You know, and they’re like, well, we ultimately need to sell cars and we want to get people to come to our dealership.

So, this idea that I think they really are the ones that came up was with was to provide valet parking to our patrons. And since the shows were in the winter, this was in March this particular one. We have a huge parking lot with a long walk to the entrance, and they provided valet parking. So, there was a really nice benefit for our patrons. So, what they did was kind of cool, they left a treat on the seat along with an invitation to an event that they were having. So, there was built-in ROI. You know, they could track what kind of response they got. And I don’t remember the numbers but it was really successful. So, the next year they committed to the entire season. So, again, just an example where you can go in and you don’t have to know what the outcome is going to be, just go in with the right questions.

And then, okay, I want to answer a couple of questions here. Yeah, when I say ROI, I’m talking about Return on Investment. Some sponsors really need to prove, you know, they need to justify these sponsorship dollars and demonstrate that they did more business as a result. And if you are giving them benefits that are some of those standard ones, it’s pretty hard to say, yeah, by having your logo here, having the sign here, you actually generated more business.

We’re going to talk a little bit later about beneficial benefits that do that, that provide ROI. But the point is that, like with the Saturn example, they were able to demonstrate that they had people who obviously came from our event, like attended their event and I don’t know how many vehicles they actually ended up selling. All I know is that they were really excited about it, and they were happy to be a partner with us, and it was innovative. It was different, and it was that triple win because our patrons didn’t have that long walk in the winter.

So, in terms of relevant and meaningful benefits, creating an inventory is a good place to start and that too is something that you might not want to do alone. I think it’s important to create business building benefits not just branding building, brand building benefits, is what I’m trying to say.

So, when we’re talking about business building benefits, I’m talking about what can we offer people who are going to get something out of this. You know, what kind of benefits are we talking about? I’m going to go into some examples. So, when you’re looking at the business to sponsorship from the businesses perspective, they want to have engagement and they want to engage with your audience versus just have and awareness going on.

So, a benefit might be, maybe you’re offering child care for, you know, of course it depends on the event but maybe there’s a child care area that the sponsor is responsible for, or hydration stations, or recharging technology station, or maybe there’s an opportunity for guests to vote on some aspect of the event and the sponsor is involved in that process. There’s a lot of beneficial benefits. I’ve developed a full resource list so that my clients we can place dig deeper into this, and find things that are really unique for their organization.

But I think it would be kind of interesting as we look at all the people who are commenting right now, what kind of benefits have you found to be really beneficial, things that are kind of out of the norm. And meanwhile, I’m also going to pull up my list here so I can share a few. Let’s see here. How do you create benefits when you’re a small nonprofit with a small event, 125-person event serving an underserved population? Of course, that’s going to be more challenging than if you’re doing an event where you’ve got huge numbers.

But, you know, I just like to say what I would do is think about who really is looking to help the underserved. And I’m thinking about a local bank that we have here who really makes an effort to reach the underserved population. It may be a small audience but there are businesses that still they want to show their community support. And so, you look will who is the audience and if there’s not a lot of people, you’re probably not going to get really high dollar sponsorships. But I think it’s important for you to understand and we’re going to talk about this a later too, understand your audience and look for sponsors who are trying to share that, and who do share that same audience.

So, a couple of extra benefits I’ll just mention. There can be on-site sampling, so that allows your participants to interact with the sponsor. You know, behind the scenes exclusive experience or never-before-seen footage, you can have where sponsors don’t just get the best seats in the house but they also get to be onstage with a performer.

What’s tough here right now is I’m talking to you and you’re not able to necessarily talk back to me live. I mean, I’m seeing the chat here but I know that you all represent a lot of different kinds of events. Some of you have got huge events in there, you know, festivals and concerts, and some of you have, you know, it’s smaller. Like this person here smaller organization and it says maybe it’s a smaller event. So, I think that my whole point is that your benefits need to make it valuable for the sponsor, the attendee, as well as help you in your sponsorship effort. So, I’m going to share another story, this might help bring it all together.

So, here’s a picture of our team at the Fine Arts Center when we had the guys from “Whose Line is it Anyway?” You see Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood was here. When the Fine Arts Center was under construction, Bonefish Grill was just about to open a few miles away, and I went to the owner of the franchise and I told her I was quite certain our patrons were her ideal customers. She agreed even and we talked about what we could do together.

In the first year, Bonefish catered all of my sponsorship receptions. So, I could provide VIP hospitality to my other sponsors with little or no cost. So, you know, if I had a bank that was a sponsor, because we have a lot of those. And they got VIP tickets, you know, meet and greet visits let’s say with the actors afterwards and they had a reception, well, Bonefish Grill paid for all of the food. They provided all of that. So, I didn’t have a whole lot of cost there.

The next year we put their logo on the ticket backs and our seasoned subscribers received priority dinner reservations prior to each show, because it’s pretty hard to get reservations there on a Thursday night for example. But if you were in season subscriber you needed it, Bonefish was a sponsor and they were doing something special for you and then you were going to go there and it’s beautiful.

She also provided free drinks and dinner and dessert for the receptions that I would hold to thank my sponsors. Because at the end of the season I wanted to find a way to get my sponsors together, so I just thanked them and they could network with each other and she provided all of it. I just had to pay for the tip.

Can you imagine if I had just come to her and said, we have these sponsorship benefits, would you give us $5,000? I mean, we ended up receiving thousands of dollars of in-kind sponsorship benefits because I went with an open mind and asked her to help come up with a package that really made sense for them.

And then the next section here, if you’re following along in your workbook is Creating Sponsor Loyalty That Lasts. So, you know, this is because we want sponsors who are going to renew year-after-year or even sign multiple year agreements with us. And in order to do that, we’re going to talk a little bit about the importance of employee engagement, communication and follow-up, and then some of the common mistakes that people make that really get in the way of that loyalty.

So, employee engagement is great. It’s really about finding ways to, you know, when you have employee engagement like say . . . wait let me back up your minute. I think companies are always looking for ways to keep employees happy and as it says on there, you know, satisfied and motivated. They’re always looking for ways to do that. So, if you can provide some benefits in your sponsorship agreement that give them a way for employees to be engaged, then you are offering a real advantage. And you’re giving them some extra incentives. And employees respect companies that care for their community. I think employees feel really good that way. It increases the emotional attachments to their employer. And it also creates opportunities for corporate philanthropy. So the more, you know, when you have employees involved coming to your event, maybe they’re greeting, maybe they’re involved in and actually being volunteers. Those employees are going to really favor and become loyal as well.

Okay, here. Now, staying connected. After meeting with sponsors I like to invite them to be connected on LinkedIn, I think I already mentioned that before. So, it’s so easy to do that nowadays, just stay connected to people. And I just want to remind you that communicating with them other than when you need money from them is really important. So, not just by staying connected through social media like I was saying but I mean, really, particularly afterwards we’re going to talk about fulfillment reports in a minute. But when the sponsorship is over, you need to show the results from that.

You know, I think it’s important to ask for feedback and have genuine evaluation on the event afterwards and get their feedback. You know, in fact, I actually created some post-event sponsor questions that my client used to help them navigate that conversation. Because it gives you the opportunity to show the value that you provided, to correct anything that went wrong. You know, it’s also a great time to get commitment for the next year. And I like to get testimonials too from my sponsor, so, it takes it, you know, by going to them and ask them for feedback, and evaluation, and advice, and how you could do things even better in the future is a great idea. And it’s a way again to develop sponsor loyalty for us to kinds of some cultivate that.

And in terms of fulfillment report, that’s where you provide a recap report or a video afterwards. You know, that can often be the deciding factor in whether or not a company continues their sponsorship with you. These used to be like icing on the cake. If you did these, you were really going over the top. But now, sponsors are expecting them, and it is important for you to be sure to follow up with them after it’s over.

And then let’s talk about these common mistakes, because if you leave here and do nothing else, I want you to avoid these two most common mistakes. One, information overload, I see this all the time. It’s why I created proposal guidelines for my clients because it’s so tempting to lead with how wonderful our organization is. They don’t need your end report, they don’t need nearly as much as you think they need, there’s so much I could share with you about proposals. We’ll have to save that turn another time. But again, information overload is a big mistake.

And then canned proposals, we talked about this earlier, I’ve been talking about it a lot but I know it seems easier to provide a package or a brochure that says here’s all the different levels that we have and predetermine benefit. But I’d like to ask you to not take this route anymore. You’re not going to get big sponsorships that way with bronze, silver, and gold packages. You know, if you simply can’t go all custom I totally get that and sometimes like for me when I was at MSU it wasn’t in my control. But I would challenge you to start with just one or two, because afterwards you’re never going to go back to doing it the old way.

We’ve gone over a lot. I’m going to just check here some of the questions again.

Steven, it looks like we’re having some issues with the sound, is that something you’re working on here?

Steven: Yup, I think we’re okay.

Joanna: Oh, good. Okay, great. So, we’ve gone over a lot today and I know it’s kind of like drinking out of a fire hydrant. But some of you might be asking the obvious questions which is, how do I make all of this work because there’s a lot to this. And we haven’t even covered how to write compelling proposals or talk about pricing. So, you know, I’m just lying to let you know that . . . well, first of all, if you’re happier the way things are going right now or you feel like you’ve got plenty of actionable steps you can take from this webinar, that’s great.

But if you really want to accelerate your growth or you want to . . . maybe your events just too important to hope it comes together, if you want a hand, I just let you to know I’m here to support you and can help get you to that next level. Now, you can absolutely learn this on your own, but if you want to take the shortcut, I can teach you what I’ve learned throughout my career and that way you can replicate it in your own work.

So, basically you have two options. You can do this the normal way or the strategic way. So, you know, the normal way, pretty much leaves you struggling year-after-year. But the strategic way it means, you may find fewer sponsorship deals but they’re going to be bigger and better. And you’re going to limit the clutter and then create more opportunities for greater impact.

So, I’m sure you can guess which way I want you to go. So, if you want to do the strategic way with me, I’m offering individual sponsorship strategy sessions. They’re 90 minutes in length. It’s where I review all aspects of your sponsorship programs. Identify key issues and opportunities. I’ve got tools for process management that I can recommend. And most importantly, help you create those strategies that you need to maximize your chance for success.

I’ll coach you on how to make a pitch, avoid the common mistakes, review your proposals if you’d like, and you can ask questions. Together we’ll strategize on next steps and troubleshoot. And I can give you meaningful feedback and expert advice. My sessions can be recorded too, so that way if you want to review the information again we can do that. And then, don’t worry if you’re an organization, I have a solution for you too. I’m offering team sponsorship strategy sessions as well.

So, this is the same great strategic session that I offer for individuals, but it’s customized for larger organizations. We start with the 45-minute session with the team lead, so that way you can kind of cast your vision and we can strategize on the approach. And then I lead a 90-minute online training strategy session with your team. So, this is really great because you can bring in people from different departments. Sometimes people will bring in someone from the marketing department which is really helpful. And, you know, as a team we learn from each other and we learn with each other as we discuss your most challenging sponsorship issues.

And even the team strategy sessions, they can be recorded in case someone has to miss or wants to review the information again. And as a bonus, if you do, you know, because Bloomerang been so great and giving me a chance to talk with you, if you purchase either of the sponsorship packages, you’ll receive free resources, four of them. One is a research template which is, so that you can keep track of everything and stay organized. Sponsor questions to ask before you write a proposal and after when you’re wanting their feedback. Beneficial benefits, we talked about that. In case you need some inspiration, that’s part of the bonus. And then proposal guidelines, because there’s certain things you can do that will ensure your proposal rises to the top.

So, this is a limited offer and just specifically for you taking this webinar. The individual sponsorship strategy session is only $475 and I have 15 of those available. So, and I’ve outlined there kind of what, what’s included, I just mentioned and then a teen sponsorship strategy sessions is $1975 and that’s for a maximum of five people, although we can add additional people if you want.

But I just want you to know that either way, whether you need some help or whether you’re great just doing this on your own by just being here today and participating in the webinar. You’re going to get a free research template, that one that I talked about for keeping track of your sponsorship research. I’ll send that to you after the webinar. So, just want to make sure you add my email address to your contacts address book that way you’re sure to get the free resource.

And so, here is a live link if you are interested in purchasing an individual strategy session or a team session. We’ll bring that back here for a minute but it’s strategicfundraisingcoach.com/bloomerang, that’s that. But, again, I just want you to know that I hope that you’ve gotten some takeaways from this regardless of whether we end up working together in the future or not. Let me go back here. I think that for me I hope that if you have . . . I hope in listening to all the things that I’ve shared that maybe you, if you were feeling kind of stuck that you were able to get some fresh ideas. I hope this has been helpful. I do feel like I’ve just given a lot in a short period of time but there’s a lot to cover and when it comes to those eight steps like I said we covered, for those eight keys to success. I’ve covered four of them, but they’re really the most important. I hope these takeaways are good for you, that this is been really beneficial. And I hope we’ve got enough time now for questions. How we’d do on time, Steven?

Steven: Yes, we do. We’ve got probably, I’d say maybe 13 or 14 minutes for questions but first I just want to say thank you to you, Joanna for sharing all your knowledge with us and taking time out of your day to be with us. So, lots of great ideas. Looks like we’ve gotten some good feedback in the chat as well on takeaways. So, yeah, I’ll just kind of roll through some of these questions if that’s okay with you. And if you have not sent a question in, please, do so. We will try to get to just as many as we can, although it looks like we got over 20 to 25 here. So, I better get going here.

So, Joanna, lots of people asking about the gatekeeper. So, they’ve got a good idea for a sponsorship, they know the company or organization they want to reach out to. How do you find that person that’s the best person to talk to, and if they have a gatekeeper, you know, maybe if someone higher up. How do you kind of maybe get past them or get the introduction? Any experience doing that?

Joanna:Yeah. I think that there’s a couple of things. One is that sometimes you can’t even get past the gatekeeper without sending in something, they’ll ask for you to send something to them. And so, if that’s the case, you know, I recommend doing like a proposal brief where you just provide the basic information and also specifically the why. Why you think they would be a great sponsor. So, sometimes that’s a barrier because they want you to send something before they’ll even talk to you.

But using your relationship, your warm connections with other people, you know, like I said, getting your board members to help open up that door to the decision maker, a lot of times sponsorship decisions are made not through the traditional way. But I think that it’s really important to be persistent too.

It’s hard to say a universal strategy because each sponsor, each company has their different ways of talking to nonprofits for development people. I was just speaking with a large bank the other day and asked him and he said, you know, if they just give me a call, I’ll be happy to tell them what they need to know. But they’re not all like that. A lot of them are like go to the website, fill out the form, you’ll hear from us or you won’t.

But because the goal is to get a one-to-one face-to-face so that you can ask these great questions, I just think using . . . tapping into the connections, you know, people are really usually great about making warm introductions for you. It’s always better than going in cold.

Steven: Yeah. I love the idea of leveraging the board members especially on LinkedIn because if they’re business community members they probably have a LinkedIn profile and have an already robust network. So, I love that idea for sure. Here’s a question and other people have asked variations of this question, but this is from my buddy, Lynn. Hey, Lynn, how does your approach change if at all, maybe it doesn’t change, if you’re seeking a sponsor for maybe like a string of events like a full season of events or maybe a full calendar year events versus just kind of one standalone event. Any change or a pivot in the strategy there?

Joanna: Well, that makes it even more important to do it this way, because then you’re talking about a long-term relationship and you’re looking to come up with a plan that’s year-round or that you can just really talk to them about all of them not have to go one-by-one. So, and so I wouldn’t change my strategy in fact it would make it that much more important.

Steven: Yeah, makes sense. Along the same lines, what if you are seeking a sponsorship from . . . or sponsorship that’s not tied to an event maybe it’s just kind of a sponsorship of the organization or some other type of other reason to get a sponsorship. Yeah, programs or maybe even a building some people have mentioned here. Any difference in the approach there?

Joanna: You know, I don’t think so. In fact, to me it doesn’t even matter if you’re asking for a sponsorship or you’re asking for a major gift from a donor. It’s the same thing. We have to kind of remember that 80/20 rule, that you spend 80% of your time listening and asking great questions, and only 20% you’re talking about your event or your organization and what you’re looking for. Because if you do it that way whether, again, because sponsors are individuals essentially. It’s not maybe their money. It’s their corporations money. But they’re people who are making these decisions and I think it’s the same. I really do.

Steven: Yeah. I’m glad you said what you said about major gifts because as I was listening over the past hour, so, I kept thinking myself, wow, there are a lot of parallels to major gift fundraising but I don’t know, that all . . . I mean, I didn’t think of that as being very similar and I wonder if a lot of other organizations also don’t maybe make that connection as well. So, I’m definitely glad you said that.

Here, let me roll through some of these as well. Here’s one from Natalie, I thought was pretty interesting. How many corporate sponsors should you be cultivating at one time? I mean, again, to make kind of a major gift comparison, you know, you maybe have like a portfolio of potential major gift donors and it seems like there is maybe a limit to how many one major gift officer can handle and do a good job of all the things you’ve been talking about. Is there in your mind maybe a limit to the amount of sponsors that you should potentially be juggling at one time?

Joanna: Well, of course it depends on the size of your team and how many people are working on sponsorship. And yeah, I think not only for the sake of you being able to manage maybe only a certain number of them but you can have that sponsored clutter happen when you have too many. I’d rather have less better ones than a ton of little ones. And so, in category exclusivity is really important. It’s one of the highest-rated benefits for highest-ranked valuable benefits of sponsors might want. And so, you know, rather than go get four different financial institutions talk to one about being the exclusive sponsor and come up with something really deep and save yourself a lot of time. Because it takes you the same amount of time to work with a sponsor if it’s going to give you $2,500 as it does to work with one is going to give you $25,000.

Steven: Right.

Joanna: It’s the same over time. So, I would go for less and go for a larger one.

Steven: That makes sense. And just unpack that statement you made about the categories you’re thinking like, you know, the one financial institution, the one car dealership, restaurant, that’s kind of what you mean.


Steven:Okay. Very cool. Yeah.

Joanna: Actually we add value.

Steven: Yeah, that makes sense. A lot of people are first-timers. We tend to get some small organizations here in the Bloomerang community doing their first event. Any advice for people putting on their first event with the kind of their first sponsorship ask.

Joanna: Yeah. I would start with the people who are closest to the organization and this would be, regardless of whether you’re small or big but if I were you in a small organization and I was putting on an event, I would talk to my board and I would say, I know many of you are leaders of corporations or you own your own businesses and this would be a great way for you to demonstrate your support by being, you know, kind of lead by example and being the first sponsor and helping us get more sponsors. It’s always good to start with the people who have the closest relationship to the organization but particularly if you’re in a small one.

Steven:Makes sense. Here’s one from Jessica, setting the prices of the sponsorship. What’s your approach to that? How do you come up with that final amount? Should that be collaborative with the potential sponsor or should you kind of come to them with a set price to begin with? What do you think there?

Joanna: I don’t come to them with a set price. I might have a price in mind of what I think I’m going to go with but I definitely don’t go and tell them what it’s worth yet.

Steven: Okay.

Joanna: So, you know, you got tangible benefit and intangible benefits. So, the tangible ones are more easy to value because they’re like . . . there’s rate cards for signage, there’s ways that you can calculate media coverage and how many impressions, and that’s easy. It’s the intangible benefits that the sponsors care the most about and that’s where you’re talking about, there’s prestige and there’s loyalty of your audience is that category exclusivity.

The intangible benefits are what really increases the value of a sponsorships. So, now this is similar to major gifts too, I like to gauge when I have a meet-and-greet, if I’m fortunate enough to get a one-on-one and face-to-face with a potential sponsor. I’m going to be asking them, I’m going to be trying to gauge, like what is an appropriate sponsorship amount to ask for and what size of the package are we going to put together here. And so, those questions like what’s the best sponsorship you’ve ever done? I might even say, what’s the most you’ve ever spent on sponsorship, because if they tell me, they’ve never done anything more than 10 grand. Well, I’m obviously not going to be able to pitch them a $25,000 sponsor.

Steven: Yeah.

Joanna So, I gauge, you know, you ask those questions and you can get a sense of what do they typically do. But then asking permission is a great strategy. So, you might say, you know, based on all of these great ideas we’ve come up with together. And I would like to put this back together, kind of put this into a proposal format. And if I were to create something based on all these ideas, in the range of $20,000 to $25,000 is that something that you would even consider.

Now, you’re not asking them to do it, you’re just saying, if I were to do this would you consider? And they may say, no, like we can’t do anything at that level. But it’s bringing us back something around the $10,000 level. Well, that’s helpful to know or they might say, yeah, yeah, sounds good. Well then, when you put your proposal together, you know, you’re in the ballpark.

And I do that with major gifts too whenever I talk to a donor. If I know I’m ultimately going to ask them for a major gift in a pre-meeting, I’m going to say, would it be okay if I came back and talked to you in the fall about the possibility of making a gift in the range of, whatever amount. It’s the same thing, and it is just a wonderful strategy because then you’re not guessing. You know when you give them something that’s already in the ballpark, you guys already talked about everything in that proposal is still the things that you both agreed would be great, so your chances of success are huge compared to just, well, here’s what we think it’s worth, so what do you think, you know.

Steven: Perfect. I love it. Makes a lot of sense. Got a time for maybe one or two questions. Here’s one from Susan, in-kind sponsorships, it seems like that if you have . . . if you leave that door open you could suddenly find yourself with no cash and only a bunch of in-kind gifts. So, how do you kind of balance that? So, you do get the materials you need maybe if it’s like linens or printing or that kind of thing but you also get the cash in the bank, how do you kind of strike that balance?

Joanna: Of course it’s more important that you get the cash most of the time.

Steven: Yeah.

Joanna: When you’re talking about helping come up with benefits that are going to really move the needle for that corporate sponsor, them giving you in-kind support doesn’t usually do that. It’s a way for them to make a contribution that doesn’t cost them as much because they can do it that way. But they’re are [excited 00:58:07], like with a restaurant, like with the restaurant it worked because it saves me money but it also got my patrons tasting their food and going to their restaurant. So, there is where an in-kind kind of accomplished both things. But I do think that going after in-kind just to save yourself from having to buy things is not going to be that helpful.

Steven: That makes sense. Very cool. We’re about a minute away from 2 o’clock and I want to be respectful of everyone’s time especially if maybe they skipped lunch to be here. I know how it gets if you haven’t had your sandwich, so, Joanna, any last words? You’re going to send people that template, do I have that correct?

Joanna: Yes. I have that free research, so the sponsor prospect research document where you can keep track of everything. Everyone that has participated in this webinar will get that for sure and then if you’re interesting working with me, then go that link and then there’s a lot more they’re available too, either way.

Steven: Great. So, you’ll get that awesome resource from Joanna, and then you’re going to get the slides and the recording from me this afternoon. So, be on the lookout for that, in case you want to relive any of this content. But do take advantage of Joanna’s offer. Obviously she’s a wealth of knowledge and she’ll take you through the rest of this process with some more good advice. So, Joanna, thanks for being here. This was really fun. Learned a lot.

Joanna: All right. Great. Thanks for having me.

Steven: And thanks to all of you for hanging out with us for an hour, for sure. It was fun for you to be here. We have some great webinars coming up for the rest of the year. We’re taking next week off, I hope you don’t mind. I’m going to take a little bit of a break since we’ve been kind of going every Thursday since the beginning of the year. But we are back two weeks from today with one of our favorites Claire Axelrad, my buddy from the West Coast. She is awesome. If you’ve never heard her speak or heard a webinar from her, definitely check this one out. She’s going to talk about how to break down that silo between marketing and fundraising, which I know firsthand my wife is in marketing at a nonprofit and she can attest to it. I hear just about every night, so, I’m going to be looking forward to some good advice on that one.

But check that out, if you are in either marketing or fundraising or maybe if you do both you’re going to get something out of that session as well. So, check it out, totally free, one week from today. We’ve got lots of other webinars. We are scheduled all the way out to December in fact. So, check out all the available webinars we’ve got. We’d love to have you back here some Thursday.

So, we’ll call it a day there. Look for an email from me with the recording and the slides. You’ll get an email from Joanna here soon as well with that template. But hopefully we’ll see you again in a couple weeks. So, have a good rest to your Thursday. Have a safe weekend and we’ll talk to you again soon.

Author information

Kristen Hay

Kristen Hay is the Marketing Coordinator at Bloomerang. She serves as Chairperson on the Blog & Social Media Committee for PRSA’s Hoosier chapter.

The post [VIDEO] How Nonprofits Can Attract, Cultivate, and Wow Corporate Sponsors appeared first on Bloomerang.

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