CORPORATE SPONSORSHIP: PREPARE TO SUCCEED
As fundraisers, we undoubtedly get giddy when we finally secure a meeting with a funder - especially if it’s a company. As we all know, getting through the door of a corporate can be very hard work and managing to successfully set up a meeting with a decision-maker is an art in itself!
However, as fundraisers we can also at times get overexcited and therefore overload the funder with too much information too soon; some of which may not be relevant to their specific marketing and sponsorship needs.
Having said that, it understandable why we do… it’s because we have that golden opportunity and we want to show them everything we can do.
This is where we need to: STOP, BREATHE and take a step back.
Preparing the ground
It may have taken us a long time to set this meeting up but if we get it right in the early stages, it can and most likely will lead to another meeting.
Yes, we do need to know about our organisation and projects inside out and also have a pretty good idea of our own pricing strategy (which incidentally, we should preferably avoid discussing in the first meeting!)
But rather than making a generic presentation about our organisation - what we do and what we think they might want - isn’t it best to find out from the horse’s mouth what they are actually looking for?
To gain a better understanding of our corporate prospect it is important to carry out effective preparation techniques for our first meeting. Understanding our corporate prospect and their objectives at the early stages is a key factor in taking the relationship to the next level and leading to a successful partnership.
We need to do as much research about the company as possible but also think outside the box and put a corporate hat on. What would you want to know if you were the funder? Play devil’s advocate and challenge yourself with a set of questions and see if you can answer them yourself…. comfortably!
Finding common ground
Know what you can or can’t do and where you will need to draw the line. But use the opportunity to ask the key questions and try to pin down as much as you can about their objectives in relation to a partnership with you.
What can you give them that would work for both parties? Why would they want to support you? What are their motivations? What do you have to offer them? Will this partnership be of value to both parties? The list is endless and you chose what you specifically need to find out and how to conduct the meeting in the most appropriate fashion.
By asking the right questions the meeting can then progress naturally and take you to a direction you may have wanted, or to a direction you had not yet thought of. Based on the outcome of that meeting you can then further tailor your pitch and create a unique bespoke partnership which may even lead to a long-term relationship.
I always say fundraisers are jack of all trades - the brokers between the organisation and the funder - and tend to have good judgement. So with that in mind we are already a step in the right direction.
How to prepare for Corporate Sponsorship
Understanding your corporate prospect and their objectives early on is a key factor in taking the relationship to the next level and leading to a successful partnership.
Before undertaking any prospect research, be clear about your own organisation's sponsorship objectives and know your limits.
Have a pricing strategy in place
Decide what sponsorship benefits you are feasibly able to offer as an organisation and cost it out effectively (you can tailor these further at a later stage). Also work out what is the maximum percentage you are willing to invest in the sponsorship.
Undertake thorough prospect research
Try and find out as much as you can about the company and work out exactly why you think they will be a good fit in the first place. Think outside the box and find research tools other than just their website
Aim to secure a meeting with a decision maker
It is worth investing a bit of time in trying to meet with the person who will have some power over the final decision and distribution of sponsorship. Not only will this save you time in the long run, but you are also more likely to find out the specific sponsorship and marketing objectives straight from the horse’s mouth!
Put a corporate hat on
Play devil's advocate! Write a list of questions you think you would want to know if you were a potential corporate sponsor. This is where your internal knowledge of your organisation and sponsorship strategy will come in handy because you will need to be able to answer those questions yourself before you go into a meeting.
Carry out effective preparation techniques for your first meeting
To gain a better understanding of your corporate prospect it is important to carry out effective preparation techniques for your first meeting.
Don’t assume you know what they want. Do as much research as you can but also be prepared to think on the spot on the day. By asking the right questions the meeting can then naturally progress and take you to a direction you may have wanted or to a direction you had not thought off but equally as good.
Use that as a springboard for future engagement
Based on the outcome of that meeting you can then further tailor your pitch and create a unique bespoke partnership which may even lead to a long-term relationship. Remember, it needs to meet with your objectives too.
Effective preparation goes long way in placing you ahead of the competition, so it is time well worth investing in!
Layla Moosavi is an Action Planning Associate with more than twenty years fundraising and sponsorship experience in the charitable sector and the arts, including as a consultant, fundraising trainer and mentor. She specialises in topics including corporate fundraising and sponsorship, strategic planning and business development, fundraising event management, marketing and communications, community fundraising, and fundraising cases for support. Layla also delivers fundraising webinars and bespoke face-to-face training.
Layla can be contacted through Action Planning at firstname.lastname@example.org