The Five Things Corporate Sponsors Want From Nonprofits

Sean Horrigan is a guest contributor for Nonprofit Hub, and a marketing/PR consultant with a track record of helping clients grow and prosper through consistent media coverage, strategic social media campaigns, killer copy and better branding.
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Nonprofits and their corporate colleagues have a codependent relationship.

Corporations provide nonprofits with financial support, and in return, nonprofits provide corporations with positive PR and a boost in business.

And the boost can be significant:

  • 91% of global consumers are likely to switch brands to one associated with a good cause, given comparable price and quality*
  • 61% of consumers are willing to try a new brand, or one they’ve never heard of, because of its association with a particular cause*
  • 50% of global consumers said they would be willing to reward companies that give back to society by paying more for their goods and services (44% in the U.S. and 38% in Canada). **

But while these relationships are often mutually beneficial (at least to begin with), they can be short lived.

In a recent Fortune Magazine article, author Shalene Gupta points out that both parties can be the cause of the demise of these relationships. “Nonprofits don’t always hold corporations accountable for promises made because they’re just happy to have the corporation giving whatever they can, and corporations have little incentive to stay invested since the relationship doesn’t always benefit them.”

So how can you ensure a successful relationship with your corporate sponsor?

Focus on five key areas: help them build brand visibility, recognize their generosity, offer creative approval, measure metrics and keep lines of communication open.

Brand Visibility

Corporations view sponsorship as a business arrangement—period. They see it as a strategic way to build brand recognition and increase sales. The sooner you understand that the more you can advocate for your sponsor.

And with any business arrangement, the company footing the bill wants to know what’s in it for them. Corporate sponsors want to see their logo anywhere and everywhere on event collateral. Think t-shirts, banners, signage, newsletters, print and web ads, radio spots, tweets, Facebook posts, press releases, billboards, invites, landing pages and email campaigns.

Recognition

Corporate sponsors want to be recognized for their generosity:

  • Acknowledge them in public speeches, board meetings and interviews with the press
  • Invite them for a private tour of your facility and take photos for the local business journals
  • Place a stewardship ad in their industry trade publication to thank them for their generosity
  • Ask your staff to thank the sponsor on their individual social media platforms
  • Give sponsors VIP tickets to your event

Creative Approval

Corporate sponsors want to approve any collateral featuring their logo. They want to make sure their most important asset, their brand, is being properly represented. Nonprofits should make sure sponsors sign off on any and all creative efforts featuring their logo.

Metrics

When a company sponsors an event, they want to measure their return on investment. In other words, how did it impact sales? The most common metrics used to measure sponsorship ROI is to evaluate the amount of exposure the sponsor received throughout the campaign. Put together a comprehensive list of any marketing materials featuring their logo, and the number of impressions it received.

For example:

  • Transit Authority ad | Run dates: October 1-October 31 | 500,000 impressions
  • Email blast | Sent on October 15 | 2,300 opens
  • Direct Mail | Mailed on October 20 | 40,000 recipients
  • Facebook Post | Posted on October 23 | 800 likes

Intangibles such as brand affinity, brand loyalty and buzz are not as easy to measure but can be evaluated through surveys and customer feedback.

Keep the Lines of Communication Open

Create a contract that details all the deliverables and lays out exactly where the sponsor can anticipate visibility. Always deliver what you’ve promised. If you agreed that your sponsor’s logo would be front and center on a billboard, make sure it’s there. Treat your sponsor like an ad agency treats its prized client. Nurture and build the relationship.

Bottom line—remember that your sponsor’s main agenda is visibility. Over deliver whenever possible and you’ll create a partnership that benefits both parties.

What say you? How do companies evaluate a potential sponsorship with a nonprofit? I’d love to hear your ideas.

Be sure to check out Sean’s blog for more tips.

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  * 2013 Cone Communications/Echo Global CSR Study
** Nielsen 2013 Consumers Who Care Study

  • Leanora Mims

    great and helpful article!

  • fsinsd

    Excellent article, Sean. You covered all they key aspects nonprofits need to now to build a successful corporate partnership.

  • MAXINE DUNCAN

    Trust is important so it is important that both parties are on the same page.

  • its straight forward and well detailed. thanks for this

  • Great information any tips on how to obtain Corporate sponsorship as a newly formed Non Profit. We have been legitimized by the IRS for 4 years now.

  • Great information! I like the entire site. Gave clear and concise information and examples. Right now I really need this information because I am the founder of a non-profit (501c3) and we need all the help we can get. Thank you for all of this valuable information.

  • Very good article and very useful for all non-profits.

  • Thank you so much Saun that was so helpful, I wish every NPOs can see your tips

  • Evidence

    Great article. Now i have a clarity on how the corporate sponsors operates for non profit companies. Thank you very much sean please share more articles via my mail.

  • Miriam

    This is an awesome article. We have a meeting with a big sponsor, and this helped me understand and be prepared for their needs.

    Thank you so much!

    • Nick Small

      Glad it could help! 🙂

  • Julie

    Hey,

    I was just wondering about the Metrics thing. How exactly or what tools should you use to get the number of impressions on the marketing materials?

    • Nick Small

      I don’t want to speak for Sean, but it kind of depends on what is getting sponsored and what materials are exposing the brand. Typically you can track things like the number of likes and impressions right on social media posts pretty easily. Twitter and Facebook offer pretty awesome analytics.

      If it’s an email blast, we use Pardot (Mail-Chip works great, too) which tracks how many people are signed up to receive, open rates, click-through rates, impressions etc.

      For events, track the estimated number of attendees and apply that to marketing material real-estate manually. I haven’t found a really good resource to calculate direct ROI or impressions for traditional media campaigns and events yet; other than doing it manually and estimating to the best of your ability. In my experience, sponsors understand and appreciate a range rather than a set number of impressions, because the number of impressions is going to be a lot higher than the number of people viewing something. Often times sponsors will even be okay with just the number of people attending an event and knowing where they’re getting exposure via marketing materials. Impressions are great, but they’re also a bit ambiguous, especially for printed materials.

  • Michelle

    Good Day

    I would like to find out,what do i do if i want your company to sponsor my tv show campaign to source a sponsor that will enable me to secure a tv slot.

  • Isaac Brown Sr.

    My name is Isaac Brown Sr. I’m trying to find a corporate sponsor for my Non-profit. Helping Hands for Homeless Soldiers is a up and coming organization that will provide transitional housing for homeless Veterans.