Here are 17 hot tips to fire up your sponsorship development engine.
DON’T outsource your business development effort. The most important part of your sponsorship operation is the set of relationships you build with your partners. Some organizations imagine that if they could just find someone to open doors for them, the money would just flow in and fill up their offices. Don’t be tricked by this fantasy. Build your own relationships.
DO believe in the tremendous value your organization offers the corporate sector. When organizations take stock at all they have to offer and how valuable they may truly be to the corporate sector, a paradigm shift happens. If you don't believe it, prospective sponsors surely won't.
DON’T be desperate. Anybody can see a desperate salesperson a mile away. Be assertive, proactive, responsive, but not desperate.
DO put your sponsors’ goals at the heart of discussions. This intention will fuel your creativity and long-lasting partnerships.
DON’T operate as if you’re In the mail order business. You’re not selling a commodity. You’re building a partnership. When you understand the activities required of this revenue source, you’ll have far better success.
DO build trusting relationships. When the other person genuinely believes you have their business interests at heart, you’ll have a much easier time building your relationship.
DON’T use corporations’ online forms. Busy work, like filling out these ridiculous forms, is not the same as initiating and cultivating valuable relationships.
DO know what you have to offer sponsors. It starts with your value proposition. What is unique to your organization? How does that value unfurl throughout your programs, events, initiatives?
DON’T treat a corporate gift as a sponsorship. The boundaries sometimes are muddy between corporate sponsorship and corporate philanthropy, but you must be clear. If a corporation has given you a gift — by underwriting an activity or program, for example — you need not provide them with sponsorship value.
DO collaborate to create more value. Tear down the silos in your organization to find assets and pockets of value that can enrich your sponsorship opportunity.
DON’T let media sponsors hijack your events. Media sponsors should be valuable partners in your events. However, you have a bad deal on your hands when they’re generating revenue through your event, and you’re stuck with the liability.
DO educate staff, board members, and volunteers about who your sponsors are. Prevent gaffes by keeping people informed and in support of the partners you’ve brought to your event.
DON’T work with scandalous sponsors. Partnering with nonprofits and associations can be the right approach for businesses that have marketing and PR challenges. Know the difference between a challenge and a scandal. Do not take on a sponsor that could cause repetitional harm.
DO hire for the right skills. Business development skills are undeniably teachable, but not without the right attitude and motivation.
DO engage your board members. Your board should have clear roles and responsibilities for opening doors to the value your organization brings. If board members are excited about your cause or organization and have sufficient trust in you and your value, engagement should be natural.
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