Corporate support for event programs can provide meaningful funds and awareness but can also be difficult to manage. Many of the groups that shared their stories talked about logistics of sponsorships, how to increase corporate involvement and integration with other programs. Hopefully the information below will provide some insights.
· A few of the programs revealed that over 70% of their revenue is coming from corporate partners and sponsors. This massive support is divided among sponsorship (cash and in-kind), employee involvement, cause marketing, in-kind media and grant support. One program’s title sponsor went so far with their commitment to the cause that employee fundraising success is tied to their annual work performance reviews.
· When talking with potential partners, be sure to share all major budget expense categories and determine if there are ways for them to impact your bottom-line aside from just cash. One example was a title sponsor that engaged their in-house marketing department to design and print all event marketing collateral.
· Be sure that your existing corporate partners are mission-focused and that they are not deterring other companies from getting involved. Engage sponsors in conversations about reaching out to their industry network including vendors and network. In one case, the entire event series benefited when the title sponsor removed their name from the event and it acknowledged a need for other companies to step up and help.
· Provide a corporate partner kit. Items to include are: campaign coordinator contact information, a team captain guide, a recommended communication plan and messages for their communication schedule, fundraising ideas, planning suggestions and templates for wallet-sized cards with event information. Some organizations offer co-branded landing pages for companies that have made a $50,000+ commitment. The responsibility for content and creation is distributed between the two organizations.
· Host a corporate round table AND an executive round table. Ask your most motivated sponsors to serve as meeting hosts.
· Provide tools including confidence builders to chapters to increase local sponsorship sales.
· Evaluating in-kind benefits can be a difficult task. In many cases a sponsor will report an in-kind value as extremely high when you know that the value is truly a small percentage of their estimate. If an item is not budget relieving (does not impact your net or bottom line revenue number), but is considered part of the larger sponsor commitment, consider requesting triple or quadruple the value for in-kind partners. As an example, you can require in-kind supporters provide $30,000 worth of value to receive recognition and benefits of a $10,000 cash sponsor.
· When trying to improve sponsor retention, one group shared that they host a post-event golf tournament as a thank you to sponsors. They use the event to solicit verbal commitments for the next year and follow-up with contracts within 4 weeks.
· Be creative with post-event reports. Put thank you videos on your YouTube channel or create photo books on Shutterfly or similar sites.
I also encourage you to take some time to think about your vision for corporate involvement. What do you hope to achieve? How would you react today if your dream company contacted you for a first meeting? Have you identified the internal resources to adequately pursue, steward and champion corporate partners? I hope that this email series from the RunWalkRide conference has been helpful! Good luck with your sponsorship sales and, as always, I am here to help!