Ultimate Guide to Pitching to Corporate Sponsors

January 24, 2016
5 minutes

Though nonprofit pitch begins with a request, it is vital that it ends with a relationship. All too often, organizations will ask for direct support only to be told that the company being asked gave already or elsewhere. First meetings with potential corporate sponsors must be about the conversation versus trying to make the meeting all about selling the nonprofit’s needs. Hopefully, the information below will help in your next pitch to a potential corporate sponsor.

Big picture thinking

Let the company know what your nonprofit can do for them. Let them know what marketing opportunities you can bring to the table. Additionally, let them know how their gift will be advertised, how many potential consumers you touch and the obvious of telling them how aligning with your nonprofit raises the corporate company as a good corporate citizen.

A bit more than just an investment

The goal should be making a long-term relationship that involves more than just sponsorship dollars for periodic events over the course of a year. When you make your pitch for corporate sponsors, look at it this way:

Cause marketing

From a company perspective, this isn’t as much a charitable contribution as it is a marketing program for the company. Think of all the products you see with a pink ribbon. Your nonprofit gains both awareness and a percentage of sales. The company, in turn, will acquire new customers who want to support your mission.

Matching gifts

This is a great way to source donations, especially when the corporate payroll has many employees on hand.

Non-cash gifts

The company may be able to provide knowledge in a specific area or special expertise or products to further your organization’s mission.

Giving in the workplace

Giving programs in the workplace allow you to present your mission face-to-face with each person in the company. Even if it is $2 or $5 monthly, it has a much greater impact knowing that half of all employees are giving. If the corporation has another giving program in place, ask them to consider your nonprofit as an alternative option for employees to donate to.

Customer giving

Those donation boxes you see at the cashier stand, as well as getting asked to donate to a specific charity during checkout are two ways nonprofits work with companies to source donations. Companies’ profiles are elevated in the community for their association with the charity, yet their expense on the affiliation is next to nothing as the proceeds support any advertisement used (think of the Children’s Miracle Network Hospital’s balloons at Walmart or Sam’s Club). All donations come from the customers.

Volunteering

An alliance with a company generally means that they will supply you with teams and participants when fundraising for events, or when volunteers are needed on the day of the event. Additionally, companies may also be able to donate volunteers for boards or committees and programs. If the company can fulfill the recruitment, you will get back precious staff hours which can be refocused elsewhere.

The ‘good’ in what’s ‘good for business’

Companies run at a profit and have investors, owners, and boards to keep happy. That said, think of their contribution to your nonprofit as a marketing opportunity that can be used to raise their charitable community profile. Companies need a medium to market their programs, services, or products. Look at your nonprofit as the medium available for them to work with. You always must be prepared to tell your potential corporate partner what they will get out of the deal. They are sponsoring you as a great marketing opportunity. They will invest in your nonprofit provided there is a return on that investment. Ask yourself this question before making your pitch for corporate sponsors: How can my organization align itself with their business in order to help their investment?

Growing the relationship

The relationship must go far beyond the “please write us a check and see you next year” sponsorship. It has to be a commitment that evolves and grows on the nonprofit side to involve the company more often.

Digging deeper

Depending on the size of the company, rather than treat them as one corporation, if it is a large company, you could market to various divisions. You may be able to get divisions in competition with each other for your nonprofit. Relationships are strengthened and the possibility of raising even more in donations is seen.

Facilitating a liaison

You can train someone from the company side to act on your behalf as an employee contact on a day-to-day basis. You will have a presence on-site daily who is a participant, cheerleader, volunteer coordinator, and someone with an ear to the ground inside the company.

Use meetings wisely

Use meetings for more than just sales opportunities. Management will grow tired quickly and stop attending or start sending lower-ranked staff in their place. Make these meetings a focus on deepening the relationship. Ask the company representatives for their ideas and input on how you can best help them. The real goal in these meetings is to continue the conversation.

Providing your services

Depending on your mission, providing your services to the company gives their staff firsthand experience with your organization. For example, if you offer wellness services, you may want to offer them at no charge to the partner company. They will see it as a positive cost savings measure on their side.

Recognize your corporate sponsors

Corporate support is more likely to continue if the company feels they are receiving more than they bargained for. By involving them in your media opportunities, mentions at board meetings, making them look great at all events and putting their logo everywhere yours is on event collateral will help greatly. Ask your staff and supporters to thank the company over social media. This goes a long way to show them affection. You can never overdeliver enough on company recognition in public venues.

Final thoughts

Ultimately, the goal with any corporate relationship is to keep the partnership going as long as both sides see it as a benefit. Pitching sponsors is not just about showing the benefit, but also about the company feeling the benefit.

Stay in the nonprofit loop.

Get weekly updates on tips, trends, and best practices to help power your nonprofit. #nonprofitz4lyfe