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Pandemics, disasters, economic declines, protests, or any of a number of unusual events can throw your event sponsorship fundraising for a loop! While you may not be able to plan for the unexpected, what you can do is be ready to tweak your plan for unusual times.

Here are a few suggestions to get through – and likely thrive – with your event sponsorships even when we’re not at “normal”.

fundraising unusual times

Do Your Homework Even More Thoroughly

In unusual times, you need to break out your A-game. You need to have a solid plan in place for how you are going to meet your sponsorship goals. This means you should create a list of potential donors that goes way past the norm. Try researching new potential prospects and get a group of volunteers and staff together to call those prospects and reach out in person whenever they can. Also, make sure your sponsor benefits are solid. We have a 6-step guide on how to attract corporate sponsorship as a starting point.

Also read: Get Ready for Fall Fundraising! 12 Tips for Your Group

Include Sponsor Benefits for the Advertising of the Event Itself

One of the biggest draws for event sponsors is the advertising potential. Sponsors sponsor you because they want their name affiliated with you, and with charity in general.

The problem is if an unusual event occurs, or the fear of an unusual event is around, a business sponsor will not be drawn into at-event benefits. For instance, what good is getting a table at your gala as a sponsor benefit if people are suddenly banned from a gathering? Other popular sponsor benefits are banners at the event or a logo on program materials handed out at the event. Sponsors are also named for events within the event, such as a silent auction.

Instead of focusing solely or primarily on sponsor benefits for the event itself, try selling advertising. This might mean you have to rev up your advertising and marketing game first. Likely that investment is worthwhile anyway!

Some pitch ideas for advertising include:

  1. “Your name will be included on 5 emails and 10 social media blasts before and after the event. We have 25,000 Facebook followers and 17,000 email members.”
  2. “Your sponsorship will be named in at least 2 radio interviews and 1 TV appearance. This is a market of over 3 million people.”
  3. “We will include your sponsorship name at the beginning of our YouTube video of the event, which reaches 5,000 subscribers.” 

Pitch to More Small Businesses During Unusual Times

Small companies are some of the most generous folks in America. Score.org reported that 75% of small business owners donate up to 6% of their income to charity. They actually donate 250% more than big business.

When a crisis hits, they are some of the best people to go to for a new or emergency gift. With your team, brainstorm which businesses are still doing well or likely will do well again once the weirdness has passed.

Make sure, when you reach out, you pitch not only the sponsor benefits but the individualistic appeal. When you appeal to a large corporation, you are trying to match to their “social responsibility” or “cause marketing” strategy.

When you pitch sponsorship to small businesses, you are likely pitching directly to the owner themself. The appeal should be heartfelt and more like an individual donation letter or request. Research that list of businesses and try to understand the founders and executives as people. Then go visit them in person if you can! Or call the store or office and strike up a conversation.

Also read: Checklist: Attracting Corporate Sponsors for Your Event

Write an Amazing Sponsor Appeal that Touches on the Unusual

Regardless of any unusual events, you need a fantastic corporate sponsor pitch. Here we have a free sample on how to write one.

You want to tweak your letter to frame your work in the context of the bizarre circumstances, to make it relevant to the reader. Here is some specific language advice:

    • “During these strange and difficult times, our program has never been more important.” 
    • “These stressful times have led us to reach out to a wider audience to fill gaps where our typical donors cannot help us this year.” 
    • “If you want to help the people most in need right now, think about investing in us! We have a solid infrastructure already in place to immediately provide aid to our community members most in need.”

These tips are intended for “unusual times”, but they are also best practices overall. Remember that fundraising in general is much more effective if you have a solid plan in place and a diverse set of prospects. And you should always be appealing in the context of what is going on around us! We may feel more connected to others in strange times, but in reality, we always are connected.

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