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Use this checklist as a guide to help you create a strategy when planning for attracting corporate sponsors for your event:
1. Enlist Board Member or Volunteer Fundraising Support
You need help! Form a committee immediately of a few dedicated board members, staff, and volunteers to plan and fundraise for your event.
2. Start Planning Early
- Define a budget. Use realistic line items based on your event from last year or from a model of another nonprofit’s similar event if your event is new.
- Give yourself at least six months, better yet a year, to start fundraising for your event, and set goals for each quarter at a minimum for:
- Number of proposals sent;
- Number of pending proposals; and
- Amount of funding committed.
- Craft a compelling story for your event using:
- Pictures and video; and
- Colorful language connecting to the need within the community for your work, from your organizational case statement if you have one.
3. Widen Your Reach
To attract corporate support, you need to affect as many people as possible with your work. You can widen your reach and claim greater impact by:
- Creating social media pages;
- Developing a unique event website; and
- Linking in with other nonprofits and community organizations.
4. Attract TV and Media
If you can claim that you are visible on widely viewed media, especially TV or video, and your marketing impact becomes a viable selling point that boosts your chances considerably for sponsorship funding. Some tips to get media coverage include:
- Ask to be part of local TV round table discussions;
- Take part in events you know will be televised that also link back to your mission (protests, community days, etc.);
- Invite the media to your most interesting events before your big sponsorship event to show you attract media; and
- Engage someone famous to work with you through your board and volunteer network (you might be surprised to whom you are connected!).
5. Engage Corporate Volunteers
A growing trend in social responsibility is engaging company volunteers to do good in the community. Some corporations even pay them to volunteer, directly or indirectly with more personal time or other perks.
- Research who volunteers in your community, especially for special events.
- Create meaningful, fun volunteer opportunities specifically designed to particular companies and invite them to work with you at your event.
- Enlist a corporate employee as a board or committee member for your organization.
6. Create Fantastic Benefits
Create as much marketing visibility as possible by:
- Including their name on your webpage and all event media;
- Offering a naming opportunity for your event, an award, or another aspect of your event; and
- Prolonging the impact beyond the event by continued media coverage and secondary events.
7. Research Corporate Social Responsibility Values
Make sure you know how the corporation wants to be represented. Don’t make the mistake and assume that a food retailer wants to end hunger or make simple generalizations; it is possible that their agenda is completely different and tied to other impacts! How do you know?
- Research annual reports and social responsibility reports to see what they publish; and, more importantly,
- Know how they have been badly impacted by press recently and how they are looking for a social image makeover by researching the general news.
8. Find the Right Person to Talk to at the Corporation
- Look for the “community relations” or the “marketing vice president” and contact her directly.
- Look for the President or CEO’s assistant and contact him – nearly every head has someone triage information before she sees it.
- Read on press release bylines who is connected with sponsorship and image at the corporation, via quotes or the contact listed by the corporation itself on related media.
9. Follow Up
Do not just send a proposal and wait!
- Call and talk to identified contacts personally about your event.
- Invite those contacts to lunch or to a meeting to talk about your work.
- Ask specifically how you can receive a favorable response if you get a “no” and change your pitch accordingly, reducing the ask amount, etc., based on your feedback.
We wish you great success with your fundraising event!
For more help with your fundraiser, visit us at FundraisingIP.com.
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More checklists here.