4 Tips to Acquire Corporate Sponsorships for Your Nonprofit

, ,
On the left side, the title of this article on a pink background. On the right side, an image of people shaking hands over a desk.

Corporate sponsorships are beneficial for nonprofits for various reasons, the largest of which is increased financial support for their mission. Plus, with funding from donors and sponsors, nonprofits will be able to diversify their revenue streams, resulting in a more sustainable financial future.

If you’re looking for tips to secure more sponsorships for your organization, you’re in the right place. With this guide, you’ll be well-equipped to acquire future partnerships, regardless of whether you need them for funding an event, community program, or your next capital campaign.

1. Understand the benefits of sponsorship for businesses.

A sponsorship is a partnership, not a donation, which means that your nonprofit needs to make it worthwhile for potential sponsors. This means offering benefits businesses would find valuable in exchange for their funds. To do that, you need to understand the motivations of organizations that sponsor nonprofits.

Generally, sponsors are looking for the following benefits:

  • Greater brand visibility. According to MassageBook, it’s common for two or more businesses to partner to gain access to the others’ audiences. This means that businesses are specifically looking to sponsor other organizations, like nonprofits, that can increase the visibility of their brand, products, and services, resulting in more customers.
  • Improved reputation. In today’s competitive business environment, companies are constantly on the lookout for opportunities to set themselves apart from their competitors. Supporting a charitable cause will help them improve their reputation as a socially responsible enterprise. Plus, studies have shown that consumers are four to six times more likely to purchase from purpose-driven companies, making a nonprofit partnership even more valuable for businesses.

As you develop your corporate sponsorship strategy, keep these benefits in mind. Focus your communications and proposals on what you can do to form a mutually beneficial partnership that helps you both secure a sustainable financial future.

2. Offer a variety of sponsorship packages.

Sponsorships shouldn’t be one-size-fits-all. Businesses will have different partnership needs and different financial capacities to give. To accommodate these needs, Double the Donation recommends offering various sponsorship levels and packages. Then, potential sponsors can choose how deeply they’d like to get involved with your nonprofit based on these levels.

For best results, clearly outline the benefits your sponsor will receive in exchange for their sponsorship amount. Here’s an example of what you might offer an event sponsor in exchange for their funds:

  • Basic package ($1,000): Acknowledgement of sponsorship in end-of-event thank-you communications.
  • Bronze package ($5,000): Sponsor’s logo added to the event webpage and perk from the previous sponsorship level.
  • Silver package ($10,000): Sponsor’s logo incorporated in event marketing materials, messages, and communications, and all perks from previous sponsorship levels.
  • Gold package ($25,000): Sponsor’s logo prominently displayed on all event materials (including signage and banners), dedicated public thank-you messages on social media posts and email newsletters, complimentary event tickets for company representatives, and all perks from previous sponsorship levels.
  • Platinum package ($50,000): Recognition as a top sponsor of the event, verbal thank-yous during event announcements and in the event’s ending speech, access to VIP events for company representatives, and all perks from previous sponsorship levels.

For instance, a local massage business may be interested in sponsoring your event. However, if they’re newly established, they probably don’t have a lot of extra funds to spare. That’s where your basic sponsorship package comes in—with it, you’ll be able to capture a partnership with this business at a level they’re comfortable with and you benefit from.

3. Thoroughly research potential sponsors.

Unfortunately, not all businesses will be interested in sponsoring your nonprofit. To save your staff members time on proposing sponsorships to organizations that probably won’t be interested, thoroughly research any potential sponsors. In particular, pay attention to if they:

  • Operate in your community. If the business operates in the same community as your nonprofit, this commonality increases the likelihood that they’ll partner with you.
  • Work in a similar vertical. If your nonprofit and the business share a vertical, then it’s likely there’s some overlap between your audiences. A partnership with your organization will give the business another touchpoint with its audience, increasing visibility.
  • Are charitably-inclined. Look for businesses that participate in corporate philanthropy in some way. This could mean they’ve previously sponsored a nonprofit, have a dedicated corporate giving program, or have social good initiatives for their operations.
  • Have the capacity to give. If a business is struggling, its funds will be reserved for its operations. When identifying potential sponsors, look for markers that show the business is doing well and will have extra funds for opportunities such as a nonprofit sponsorship.

Keep an eye out for these generosity indicators to help you determine which businesses are worth pursuing for sponsorships. After you’ve pinpointed a list of qualified candidates, send out sponsorship letters that clearly outline what you and the potential sponsor will receive from your partnership.

4. Don’t overlook in-kind sponsorship.

When most nonprofits discuss sponsorships, they’re usually thinking of receiving funds from businesses. However, in-kind sponsorships can be just as useful and save your nonprofit from spending your hard-earned revenue.

Much like in-kind donations, in-kind sponsorships refer to partnerships where the sponsor provides non-financial benefits like goods or services. This is another way to capture a partnership with an organization that may not have the financial means to sponsor your nonprofit but has other offerings you can benefit from.

For example, let’s say you’re planning a black-tie fundraising gala and you need a suitable event venue. Instead of renting a venue for potentially thousands of dollars, you can contact hotels, country clubs, and other event centers and ask them if they’d be willing to sponsor your event. In exchange for marketing benefits, your nonprofit will be able to use the sponsor’s facilities for free or at a discounted rate.

Or, if your nonprofit is looking to upgrade your tech stack, you may seek out a sponsorship from a company that works in developing business software. Employees from this business can consult with you about your software needs and configure your existing software to better fit your preferences. This is especially helpful if your nonprofit doesn’t employ any particularly tech-savvy staff members.

As you connect with potential sponsors, be sure to steward them just as you would your supporters. Even if a sponsor turns down your request, it’s still worthwhile to stay in communication, as they may be open to a future partnership. For sponsors that accept your request, keep them apprised of the program or event they’re sponsoring. And be sure to update them on how their generosity has impacted your nonprofit!