3 Ways Businesses Can Maximize Their Nonprofit Sponsorship Agreements

Nonprofits still need support to carry out their mission, perhaps more than ever. Your business values the work of nonprofits and the ability to align with their mission. Sponsorship, at its best, is a win-win-win scenario. It’s one where benefiting organizations, sponsoring business, and—ideally greatest of all—the community being served all win. That said, there are a few ways we can improve on this good thing. Here are some ways you can maximize your nonprofit partnerships by endearing the causes dearest to you.

It’s OK to Negotiate (In fact, most nonprofits prefer it!)

You know what works best for your business in terms of promotion. Perhaps you have a great takeaway that you want to get into the hands of all attendees. Or, maybe you’ve invested in a fantastic promotional video. Organizations often supply a sponsorship guide or some parameters for your support, but you can always negotiate for different terms. Most organizations care deeply about the success of their business partners. Thus, they would welcome any feedback or requests for changes to the sponsorship benefits. It never hurts to ask. 

Bonus Tip: Know What to Ask For

Stop focusing on email capture! It’s a violation of SPAM law for a nonprofit to give out a list that hasn’t opted-in to hear from you, and you don’t want to be known for spamming. Instead, focus on high-frequency and high-engagement opportunities. It’s better for the cause to sing your praises than it is for your business to bypass a warm introduction for a cold email. 

Commit (and Pay) Early

The sooner you commit to a sponsorship, the sooner the organization can begin telling the story of your partnership. Dangling a “maybe” for six months leading up to an event doesn’t serve your business or the cause. In fact, it often wastes time and promotional opportunities. Remember, like any good business, most nonprofits cannot (and should not) do any sponsorship promotion until payment is received. 

Bonus Tip: Lock in Long-Term

Nonprofits, like businesses, face uncertainties with every passing year. Two things that can surely be planned on, however, are that causes will need financial support and your business will need to remain visible to the public. Consider making a meaningful investment in the future of your business and your favorite cause by locking in a long-term sponsorship plan. The security of a 2-3 year commitment helps a nonprofit budget. Plus, it will likely help your business save some money while creating continuity in your promotions. 

Get Involved

Having your team participate in the work of the nonprofit you’re supporting will maximize any benefit your business receives from sponsorship. Whether it’s participation in an event planning committee or the day-to-day operations, getting inside and familiar with the nonprofit you work with will further endear you to their cause and will also endear their team to you. Ask how you/your team can get involved and see how the trust and success of your sponsorship relationship grows. 

Bonus Tip: Know Your Story

Be prepared to talk about why you support the nonprofit(s) that you do. Knowing your story about why your business is partial to a specific cause or movement will help the public remember your commitment and associate you with a good cause. 

Consider the Meaning More than the Method

Our organization takes sponsorship meetings frequently as it’s the bread and butter of our support model. About a year ago, I had a virtual chat with a business team that was looking to sponsor an event. I was prepared to share the metrics of the event and what exposure we could provide since those are frequent questions from prospective sponsors. Instead, the conversation began like this:

You’re doing really meaningful work. We see how nonprofits need this, and we love that you make it affordable. We’d love to get in front of your audience, but in a way that aligns with the work you’re already doing. How can we help you move forward and grow?

What followed was a candid discussion on what this company could afford and how we could maximize their investment to bring the nonprofits we serve great content. It was an ideal sponsorship conversation, and I left feeling endeared to the business’ leadership, team, and success. 

Choose to work with missions that have great meaning to you and your team. Sponsorship is a promotional method that is maximized when both partners are rallying for each other’s success.

Maximizing partnerships

Katie Appold

Katie’s nonprofit career includes a variety of leadership roles for human service, foundation, and publishing-related nonprofits as well as many volunteer roles. Under Katie’s leadership, nonprofit organizations have developed new programs related to free healthcare, affordable and accessible housing and literacy programs for K-12 students. In her first Executive Director role, Katie increased the annual revenue of the organization she led by 300% and received the top grant prize in the nation for affordable housing through the Federal Home Loan Bank of Indianapolis. Today, she leads Nonprofit Hub and Cause Camp, which collectively serve more than 50,000 nonprofits throughout North America. Her educational background includes an undergraduate degree in business administration and a masters degree in nonprofit leadership. Katie serves as the board president of Gracious Grounds, a housing organization serving individuals with disabilities. She is an active member of the Grand Rapids Young Nonprofit Professionals, the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce, Cause Network, and the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

June 3, 2021

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