Sponsorship Is Not A Philanthropic Activity

When it comes to sponsorships, it’s about audience, not cause, for most businesses that fundraisers approach. Fundraisers need to stop thinking of sponsorship as philanthropy. It’s a straight line from sponsorship opportunity to audience to prospect for the potential sponsor.

Chris Baylis, president and chief executive officer of The Sponsorship Collective in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, talked about the deadly sins of sponsorship recently during a session at the annual Association of Fundraising Professionals’ annual international conference in San Antonio, Texas.

Sponsors really don’t exist and often the cause is irrelevant to the decision of whether or not to sponsor an event. According to Baylis, cause is important to the nonprofit’s audience and that audience is important to the sponsorship prospect. Fundraisers should use the cause to attract and define your audience and your audience to define and attract a prospect. It’s about bringing the prospect to their potential audience via your cause.

It is not a coincidence that the sponsors of this conference all happen to sell products to charities, Baylis told the fundraisers. It’s all about audience.

    The lack of valuation of the event will hurt the solicitation. There are five elements of which to be aware, according to Baylis.

  • Start with the question “How would my sponsor get this exposure without me?”;
  • Logo placement equals awareness via small ads in publications targeting your audience;
  • If the sponsor wants an email address, how much will it cost them to get an email address without you?;
  • Sampling? Look to events attracting the same audience as a starting point; and,
  • Run a social media campaign.
    And when you land that meeting with a potential sponsor, ask these five questions:

  1. Who is your target audience?
  2. What does your target market value?
  3. What can you tell me about your sales goals for the coming year?
  4. What would you consider to be the most important elements of a sponsorship package?
  5. Tell me about a time a sponsorship deal went well/didn’t go well. Why?