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Corporate sponsorship is a long tail strategy not a fast financial solution. And it takes time.

It can take MONTHS to close a sponsorship deal. Most folks aren’t successful because they step away just before  the deal gets into the closing stage–presuming a sponsor is stalling or disinterested when in fact, there are internal meetings, bottlenecks and sign offs  that have nothing to do with you/your brand. I’ve seen the sponsorship industry evolve a great deal over my 18 years of doing this work. What hasn’t changed is that from start to finish, it can take seven to ten transactions for a sponsorship deal to close.  Trust the process. A few steps to closing faster:

How to Speed Up the Corporate Sponsorship Closing Time

  1. Don’t inundate your prospect with loads of materials. This strategy gives you a reason to follow-up, and a chance to cater to the sponsor’s interests.
  2. Once you’ve officially made your  sponsorship “ask” listen and agree to next steps and timeline for decision-making.
  3. Once you get a YES, make sure you send your sponsor a confirmation letter that reiterates the details of your agreement.
  4. Be pleasantly persistent. If you haven’t received a rejection letter, “no” your deal may not be dead. Hang in there and don’t give up because deals take time.
  5. Last, a phenomenal tip from Fortune 500 Consultant Nancy Michaels: If your deal is at the contract period and stalling, offer to take on the task of creating the contractual agreement.

Have you seen additional prospecting touch points or ways to cut down on the interactions required to close a sponsorship deal? Drop us a line to share.

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It’s important to recognize the differences between corporate philanthropy and corporate sponsorship. Here are seven distinctions:

  1. Corporate philanthropy is motivated by altruism and supports a socially beneficial cause without financial or material reward to the corporation.
  2. Philanthropic gifts could include donations of money, goods, services, and time.
  3. Corporate philanthropy is often managed by an internal community relations team or a corporate foundation. The corporation aims to enhance its image and promote goodwill with stakeholders and the community.
  4. Corporate sponsorship is a mutual business proposition that offers value in exchange for money. Sometimes referred to as cause-related marketing, corporations get a return on their “investment,” enhance their profile, associate their brand with a cause,  and or attract customers who support that cause.
  5. Sponsorship typically involves a contractual relationship between a corporation and a non profit, for profit brands
  6. Another distinction between the two is that some sponsorship costs are eligible for a write off as a full business expense, including: television and digital media placement, co-branded promotional products, and printing.
  7. If  you are a for profit entity, consider partnering with a no- profit that shares your goals. The non-profit can submit proposals on your collective behalf.

This is not an exact science. Increasingly, the line between philanthropy and sponsorship has blurred as some corporations create a hybrid between the two types of giving.

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uncover corporate sponsorships
When securing corporate sponsorship, it is critically important to know what and who your organization serves and how your audience can benefit a prospective sponsor. Here are three things to know about uncovering vital information about the audience you serve:

Define Your Audience

It is important to define your and your sponsor’s audience.  Find out how can they benefit and advance the marketing and or sales objectives of your prospective sponsors?

Know How and When to Survey Your Audience and Stakeholders

Your questions should be direct, easy to understand and designed with a clear objective in mind. Survey Monkey provides guidance about how to create surveys that drive results.


Once You Gather Information About Your Audience, you brainstorm about the radio stations, magazines and other media your audience may listen to or read. Go download the media,  sales and or advertising kits of those entities to collect specific demographic information that may prove useful as you develop your sponsorship pitch and proposals.


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Last week I had the pleasure of attending and speaking at the American Marketing Association Non Profit Marketing Conference. In addition to facilitating a workshop on Multicultural Marketing with the brilliant Diana Cardenas , it was great to hear perspectives from thought leader speakers and  hundreds of  participants that represented a diverse mix of non profit organizations across the country. Kudos to Quinn and his staff team at AMA , @consultkeenan and the conference committee on a job well done. Check out the live tweet stream of the event on Twitter at #amanp.

Here are some of my favorite tweets and reflections from the conference:

Diversity is the new mainstream

Segment and personalize your marketing, find your audience, connect authentically then offer meaningful and relevant opportunities to participate.  Diana Cardenas of Easy Non Profit Marketing shared: “When it comes to your organizations marketing, there’s no such thing as the general public”. ABC News has a great take on this “Modern Family Phenomenon

Dear non-profit orgs: If you’ve not already done so, seriously consider taking this social media thing seriously: @brockyetso

Facebook is currently the most used social networking tool by non profits with average page likes of 8,317 . “Its important for non profit organizations to have a perspective and get in the conversation”according to Marketing Consultant Valerie Morris.” @MeierlingW ‪#socialmedia helps you bypass gatekeepers and get your orgs message directly to reporters, and other media.

@salesleadertodd don’t do anything different think differently about what you do made me think about creative ways organizations can craft a strong social media presence. According to Beth Kanter: “Nonprofits struggle with finding the time to create content, but the secret is repurposing, reimagining and curating”. Check out how some organizations serve as hub of information on a particular subject matter

How you treat friends is how your organization needs to treat your current and potential audience

One of my favorite comments from the conference came courtesy of @saminj58 - think of ‪#socialmedia as behavior. Be authentic, share value- not just stats about your org. WORD!

Its okay to enlist and unleash others to spread the word about your corporate sponsorship needs and campaigns @JamalMEdwards

Reach out, deputize your leadership and supporters to be ambassadors of your campaign. #unitedway has over 500 FB pages and 200 twitter handles but unifies all of their social media through using two hashtags: #unitedway #Liveunited. @ulmancancerfund  reviews and plans their social media outreach at their weekly leadership team meetings

My quick marketing tip for finding out what your target audience wants

Go download the sales and advertising kits of the periodicals they read

Two examples of simplistic brilliance for sharing your business card

Business Cards

Business Cards

One of my biggest post conference challenges is saving the contact information  of the people I meet and remembering what we discussed when we met (I know I’m not the only one) 1) Donate Life America has a QR code on the back of their cards. Recipients can scan that code with a smartphone and instantly save and store contact information (thanks Aisha) 2) the American Association for Cancer Research had a small neat business card sized package of mints privately labeled with their contact information including links to their social media pages  (thanks Valerie)

Your marketing strategy will evolve…often

@omoiyek “marketing” is ambiguous and will evolve with the needs of your organization.   ‏@McKinleyAdvisor- The mistake many make is only doing research once, you need to do it every few years to see what’s changed, where u r making progress 

These organizations are doing social media well 

RT @NexusDirect: Brands doing social well @KomenfortheCure @LIVESTRONG @RedCross @goodwill @AHA_Foundation @gatesfoundation

Social media mashup pages are awesome and a few other resources to check out/consider 

@ulmancancerfund does a social media mashup page for their  Half Full Triathlon ‏@joshrice 25 Awesome Free #Google Tools for Marketers — in case u were not paying attention to Google’s awesomeness.  The United Way Big Tweet Campaign 

If you are looking to up your non profit marketing game, you need to attend #amanp next year

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corporate sponsorship marketing strategy

I’m Going to open this post about 7 Tips to Refine Your Corporate Sponsorship Marketing Strategy with a fitting quote from Poet Edith Lovejoy Pierce.

We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day

Every day represents a new opportunity to increase the visibility and income of your small business. No matter what you believe about the state of the economy, corporations have continued to sponsor businesses, brands and projects that have the potential to move their marketing and sales objectives forward. Here are seven Tips to Refine Your Corporate Sponsorship Marketing Strategy:

1. You already have corporate sponsorship prospects

The truth is that almost all small businesses have corporate sponsorship prospects, but only some truly know how to identify and approach those corporate prospects in ways that are not intrusive and mutually beneficial. Consider inviting your vendors, stakeholders, and VIP customers to a prospect research session to uncover the relationships that exist between your business and the corporations to which they are connected. Once you have your prospects identified, create strategies to engage those prospects.

2. Get close and personal with your corporate sponsorship prospects.

Begin your prospecting sessions with the end in mind: getting the names of corporate contacts you can solicit, and the commitment from your connecter to make an introduction. Your goal is to get a face-to-face meeting (optimal) or a phone conversation with your prospective sponsor.

3. Start taking social media seriously

According to HootSuite’s CEO Ryan Holmes, “In 2013, companies can look forward to expanded returns on their investment in social media, as social technologies improve and functionality extends beyond just marketing and community building.”  Through Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, you can offer great opportunities to linking your sponsor directly to their ideal customer. I’ve worked with many organizations who have built their sponsorship program strictly on the benefits they can offer through social media.

4. Understand that corporate sponsors aren’t just interested in logo recognition. 

Think about it ….do corporations like Pepsi really need your help to promote their logo? Look to offer more creative benefits that align with your corporate prospect’s brand and ultimately help them drive business.

5. Offer diverse opportunities for corporate sponsors to partner with your brand.

New sponsors may be reluctant to take on your top tier opportunities until they have a sense of if the partnership will generate a return on their financial investment. I don’t encourage you discount your value, but do encourage you to consider developing a range of smaller sponsorship packages that serve as the prelude to larger opportunities.

6. Adjust your attitude. 

Before you approach your sponsor remember, you are proposing a win-win partnership of mutual benefit. Go in with the attitude of “we have an opportunity for your corporation to build business and spread goodwill,” rather than “we really need your money.”

7. Honor corporate sponsorship deliverables

Once you have a sponsor, where possible, over deliver and offer more value, benefits, and/or recognition at no additional cost. Small gestures help endear your organization to the corporate sponsor, and increase the chance that you will retain and attract new sponsors.

What do you think of these tips?  Did they help you out?  Let us know in the comments section below.





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More than 88% of corporations contribute to charitable causes, yet many nonprofit organizations are unsure about the best ways to develop a prospect list, prepare a proposal, approach a corporate prospect face to face, and ultimately persuade a corporation to support their cause. Now, I want you to imagine with me for a moment that you have not been feeling well and decide to visit your doctor. When you arrive, he or she rushes you into the office and writes you a prescription without ever asking questions about what’s ailing you. What would you think about your doctor’s competence and ethics if that happened? While this is an extreme scenario, it’s in this same fashion that many nonprofit organizations approach corporate sponsorship when they pitch blind proposals to an unqualified prospect list. Then they wait and wonder why they got so many rejection letters — or even worse — never heard back about proposals they sent out.

I’ve fundraised in the nonprofit sector for the last 15 years, and I’m guilty of using this same approach. For a long time I was convinced that if I had a sleek proposal and a good pitch letter, the corporations I solicited would see that my organization was deserving of sponsorship, and just give us money … right? My process was grueling. I would research for hours and find hundreds of sponsorship prospects. Next, I’d spend money on graphic design, print, and postage. And for hours, staff would help stuff envelopes and get the proposals out the door. Then I would wait. After a few weeks of waiting, the rejection letters would begin to arrive. Each time I got a rejection letter, I’d get a little more discouraged and think: there has to be a better way to raise corporate sponsorship. Now don’t get me wrong, every now and then I’d raise a few thousand dollars from a sponsor using my approach, get encouraged, and think I was on the right track. But a few years ago, I sat down and calculated the TRUE COST of my sponsorship approach and it changed everything. Here’s what I discovered:

50 hours of prospect research between me and my assistant……………………………………$2,400

Assistant’s data entry for two weeks ………………………………………………………………………$1,440

Graphic design of the proposal packet…………………………………………………………………….$2,500

Printing of 500 proposal packets…………………………………………………………………………….$3,000

Four staff members working 2+ days to assemble and prepare packets for mailing………$1,250

Mailed 400 packets @ $ 1.50 each…………………………………………………………………………..$ 600

SPENT:       $ 11,190

RAISED:     $ 1,900

LOST:          $ 9,290

That day, I knew I had to change something. Working in the nonprofit sector, I’m always looking for ways to work smarter, to do things correctly the first time, and to use donations responsibly. Each time I sit down to spend money on behalf of an organization; I try to remind myself that it’s not my money I’m spending. After my cost calculation, I was on a quest to secure sponsorship in a more strategic way.

I spoke to marketing, community relations, and corporate foundation directors at corporations and found that many of them were willing to give me candid feedback about why some proposals are funded and others are not. I also interviewed dozens of nonprofit leaders across the country to discover what was and wasn’t working as their organizations sought corporate sponsors. Last, I attended workshops, read books, and studied countless solicitation methods to learn and master the true best practices of securing corporate sponsorship.

Translating all that I had learned from paper into practice made a significant difference in my fundraising and has helped me raise hundreds of thousands of dollars through corporate sponsorship — even during a bad economy. If your organization seeks better results, needs coaching, or a road map to jump-start your corporate sponsorship program, I would love the opportunity to potentially save your organization thousands of dollars and countless labor hours. Resource the Change You Want to See in the World, Anisha Robinson Keeys  

Click Here To Instantly Download Your Copy: $27.00 USD

  Some of the secrets you’ll learn include

  • 11 types of benefits you can offer corporations- beyond logo recognition
  • The list of 22 retailers in your neighborhood that want to help your organization raise money and steps to secure sponsorship with those retailers in the next few weeks
  • The 4 questions you must ask and answer before seeking funding from corporations
  • How sending unsolicited proposals to corporations can destroy your organizations ability to earn a corporate funders respect
  • Why “we need the money” and “we are good cause” are not the answers to getting corporate funding (I’ll tell you what is)
  • How to structure the one hour meeting that can help raise thousands of dollars through your board or advisors

After reading this material you will:

  • Have a sophisticated approach to creating and implementing your organization’s corporate sponsorship program
  • Be ready to develop a corporate prospect list
  • Be able to authentically align your organization’s deliverables with the goals of your corporate prospects
  • Be prepared to have a productive face-to-face meeting with prospective sponsors
  • Know how to stand apart from the hundreds of proposals corporations receive every day and get the support you need

PLUS! GET FIVE TIME SAVING SAMPLE MATERIALS 1. Sample Sponsorship Proposals and Forms 2. Guide for conducting a Prospect Research Meeting (sample email, invitation letter, and grid to record results) 3. Sample Sponsorship Policy and Procedures 4. Sample Cause Marketing Agreement 5. Sample Letter of Sponsorship Confirmation

Click Here To Instantly Download Your Copy: $27.00 USD

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Eighty eight percent of corporations give to charitable causes. Here are five additional tips for standing out and raising money from corporations:

Make a good business pitch

That includes: overview of your history  and track record, sponsor benefits, and a clear articulation of how those benefits complement your sponsors goals and philosophy. Also—make sure to include a sponsorship reply form.

Meet in person if you can.

Have the person who introduced you to the sponsor arrange and attend the meeting with you. During the meeting, ask open-ended questions about your sponsors goals and giving priorities and then listen.

Be clear about what you want.

Use phrases such as: “Here’s how you can partner with our organization” , or “Ideally, you could…” and then insert the action you want them to take.

Know the next steps

Know the next steps and when you should expect to hear back from a sponsor.

Immediately send a short thank you to the Corporate Sponsor

A short thank you note that recaps the mutual benefits you proposed.  Whether or not you land the sponsorship, keep your prospect informed of your work and strengthen your chance of getting their support in the future. Note: ask for permission and make sure you are not violating email spam laws.

Some resources and further reading

IEG: research database, advisory and ROI services Linkedin: search area corporations—then find out if they are connected to your organization or volunteers