Image from CCAM.
Before I was a blogger here at WorkflowMax, I worked at a non-profit for six years. The work was life-affirming and enjoyable, and it gave me a real appreciation of just what it cost to keep a service going. Everything our organisation needed - from the office where we worked to the coffee in the breakroom and the paper in the photocopy machine - had to come from funds allocated to us by the government or through fundraising. It really opens your eyes to what it takes to keep a non-profit ticking and providing essential services to a vital part of society.
We used to have both enterprise-level sponsors who were behind huge national awareness campaigns and gave funds for new buildings, and smaller corporate sponsors who, for example, paid for material to be added to our library. We had a team dedicated to nurturing these relationships and ensuring we were doing everything we could to publicise sponsorships and return value to the organisation.
Sponsorships can be powerful, mutually-beneficial relationships for both business and beneficiary, or they can be costly agreements with very little payoff. I’ve written this article to help you ensure your sponsorship falls into the former category.
What are your goals?
Before you even start considering sponsoring an event, organisation or person, you need to ask yourself what your goals with this type of campaign are.
- Are you trying to generate sales at an event? Event sponsorships, if done well, can be a great way to direct attention to your product/services.
- Are you looking to raise awareness in the community? Supporting community initiatives can help build a solid reputation.
- Are you trying to improve employee engagement or culture? Getting the company involved or supporting employees doing awesome things are great ways to improve culture.
- Are you trying to raise brand awareness on a national or international level? Having your logo present at large-scale events or campaigns can help your company gain a worldwide reputation
Managing Your Scholarship Program
Companies open to sponsorship submissions will usually have a page on their website with details or a form to fill in. These applications go to a dedicated email address until they can be assessed and a final decision made.
Assign a dedicated person in your company to deal with sponsorships. In the beginning they will need to take a proactive role in finding appropriate opportunities. However, over time they may find themselves fielding requests from charities and individuals.
Decide on a yearly budget for sponsorship and create a matrix for assessing sponsorship opportunities. You need to ensure that each sponsorship you take on fits with your company goals and values. When assessing each application look at:
- Branding - does the opportunity fit with your company’s brand? The more closely aligned these are, the more benefit you’ll see. For example, Sponsoring a charity food event would be a great choice for a cereal company producing organic, healthy, grain-free cereals, but not so much for a mechanic.
- Audience - who will be attending the event or otherwise seeing your company’s branding - is this the right audience for you? There’s no point in sponsoring a kids’ event if parents aren’t your target audience.
- Commitment - what are they asking for? What is left in your budget for sponsorships this quarter?
- Values - do the values of the organisation/event/individual reflect the values of your company? What message do you send to potential clients by supporting this event? This is especially important when you are considering an opportunity affiliated with a religious, political or cultural organisation.
Get Active With the Event or Organisation
One of the biggest mistakes business owners make when it comes to sponsorships is to write a check, send a logo file, and then wash their hands of it. Getting active in the campaign is a great way to really live your values and show clients you are passionate about a cause.
It can be as simple as getting your team along to a public event - planting trees for the regeneration project you support, or shaking buckets on the street for a health charity.
Or you could put some marketing power behind making your brand an important part of an event or campaign. It’s all about making sure people walk away from an event remembering your brand. Recently, WorkflowMax sponsored a large business conference, and we created a wordfind puzzle, which we placed on every chair at the conference.
This is an example for a major enterprise sponsorship, but it gives you an idea of how clever you can be with sponsorships. When Samsung sponsored the Tel Aviv Marathon, they created a system for race participants to socially-share pics of their greatest race moments.
Sponsorship Dos and Don’ts
- Do: Get a contract: this is a business partnership, so make sure you have everything in writing.
- Do: Keep it on-brand: choose opportunities that closely align to your company’s audience, goals and values.
- Don’t: Just set and forget - create new opportunities to engage with the audience you’re reaching with the sponsorship.
- Don’t: forget to live your values - be a good ambassador for your chosen charity or event.
- Do: Put a plan in place to measure ROI from the event or campaign.
- Do: Have fun!
Sponsoring events, people and organisations is a great way to solidify your brand, raise awareness for important causes and build a company culture of kindness and giving back. With a little strategic planning, a sponsorship campaign will deliver a great result for your company while also doing a little good in the world.