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Fundraising vs Sponsorship! Here are the 4 Things I’ve Learned

by | August 25, 2015

Why you can trust Sponsorship Collective

  • The Sponsorship Collective has worked with over 1000 clients from every property type all over North America and Europe, working with properties at the $50,000 level to multi-million dollar campaigns, events and multi-year naming rights deals
  • We have published over 300 YouTube videos, written over 500,000 words on the topic and published dozens of research reports covering every topic in the world of sponsorship
  • All of our coaches and consultants have real world experience in sponsorship sales

This post flows nicely from last week’s post about the differences between Individual Giving and the Sponsorship sales process. In that post I argue that the two worlds are different, very different, but that the best fundraisers have the transferable skills needed to make it work.

This week I caught up with Maeve Strathy (yes THAT Maeve Strathy!). Maeve is one of those fundraisers who makes both types of fundraising work. I am firmly in the camp of “cause marketing specialist who makes it work in the world of individual giving” and Maeve is in the “other” camp- and does both well. I suspect there are far more full service fundraisers called upon to do cause marketing and sponsorship than the other way around and so I am very excited to be teaming up with Maeve on this post.

Over to you Maeve, tell us how it’s done:

 The Confluence of the Raisers of Funds

Back in the Spring of 2014 I joined the Board of the Grand River Film Festival (GRFF) in Waterloo Region where I was living and working at the time. I wanted to be part of the community and put my skills to use, so it seemed like a great fit. GRFF relies heavily on sponsorship and donations to fulfill its mission of celebrating and inspiring community through the shared experience of film. As a professional fundraiser, I was ready to show GRFF what raising funds is all about.

But you see, my day job was as an individual gift fundraiser for a university; my donor base…primarily engaged, generous alumni. My volunteer work with GRFF was to secure corporate sponsorship; my new donor base… whoever would answer my phone calls.

This confident fundraiser was knocked down a few pegs!

“Toto… I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

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My fundraising toolkit just didn’t apply here.

I was used to individuals… now I was dealing with companies. I could contact donors any time… now I had to consider budget time.

I normally started conversations by finding out donors’ passions… now it was all about marketing and sponsorship value.

Moving from warm and fuzzy philanthropy to transactional, businessy sponsorship was an adjustment, but looking back, I’ve realized that fundraisers on both sides have something to teach each other, and we can all be better at what we do as a result.

Fundraising vs Sponsorship!
Here are 4 things I’ve learned:

Relationships matter in fundraising and sponsorship!

This may be more obvious on the individual giving side, but it has a huge place in the sponsorship world, too. We have to get to know the values of a company to align them with our organization and our fundraising priorities, and we do that through asking good questions and – most importantly – listening.

Fundraising and giving is an investment.

This has always been clear in the more transactional world of sponsorship, but increasingly individual donors are seeing their philanthropy as an investment, too. What does that mean? It means donors and sponsors want to see a return – whether that’s measured in marketing value or impact on the organization, it needs to be there. How do the donors/sponsors know it’s there?

Accountability counts!

This is where sponsorship and individual giving are exactly the same. We need to report back to our donors and sponsors on what their funding did and why it matters.

Why do sponsors do sponsorship and donors donate? Value!

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Why do sponsors sponsor and donors donate? Because they see value in it. Whether the motivation is altruistic or more business-minded doesn’t really matter. We are fortunate to have people and companies supporting us and we owe them good treatment, ROI, and accountability.

That’s something all raisers of funds can agree on!

Maeve Strathy is a passionate fundraising professional, focused on inspiring donors to make an impact on the causes they love through philanthropy. Her full-time work is as a Fundraising Strategist with Blakely, providing strategy for charities on integrated direct response campaigns. Previously, she developed the mid-level giving program at Wilfrid Laurier University, and built a young alumni giving program at Trinity College School. Maeve also supports the fundraising efforts of independent arts and culture organizations, namely the Grand River Film Festival and MYOpera. In her spare time, Maeve likes to work out, watch TV and movies, read, cook, and write for her fundraising and philanthropy-focused blog, www.whatgivesphilanthropy.com.