Small Shop Sponsorship: The Three-Headed Hydra, Part One
This two-part blog post series goes out to my warrior-friends in the non-profits and charities who identify as “small shops”. These organizations are typically under $500,000 in yearly revenue, and cringe at the thought of taking on additional tasks that will stretch their already scarce resources. Well, I’m here to help you succeed in obtaining corporate sponsorship for your next event, campaign or initiative…all while having to invest very little time or resources to make it happen….at least at first. How do I know this? Because I did it myself! I recently made the jump from a small shop, with a $0 sponsorship budget, but before I left over a year later I had raised over $130,000 in unrestricted revenues. All of these funds were also all renewable, and went right into funding work our organization was doing. All the while I only worked part time (15 hours/week or less) so believe me when I say I understand and sympathise with that under-resourced and over-worked struggle we all understand too well.
The Three Headed Hydra Emerges
For me, sponsorship at first was a bit like a three-headed hydra from ancient Greek mythology: A fearsome creature that seemed to sprout two more heads each time you defeated one. So, to help you slay the beast for good that can be corporate sponsorship I’m going to give you the 3 biggest heads you’ll need to slay to be successful, and how to make sure these heads don’t grow back. These are the same heads I had the hardest time in my early days, and that I came into conflict with when I first started/continue to even today. I’ll also share my stories of how these heads were successfully slain. Follow these battle-tested methods and I promise you’ll see results in the coming weeks and months: let the battle begin!
The First Head: The Sponsorship Package
The first head I had to fight to overcome is the sponsorship package. Going into this battle I thought this head would surely do me in: I didn’t have a fancy package, or anything really, nor did I have a fancy list of companies to reach out to. Yet despite popular belief you do not need a fancy package, sent to as many inboxes as possible, to slay this head. Ultimately the sponsorship package is not the starting point, but it’s an outcome. The sponsorship package doesn’t sell your sponsors on your opportunity…YOU DO! So, stop typing up that package right now and save yourself the work. Now that you’ve got some spare time you can continue reading about my battle with this head of the hydra. So how do you win this battle then if you don’t send your sponsors a fancy, multi-tier sponsorship package? The answer is…. just an email. What goes into this email you say? As little as possible: No details about the event, no gold-silver-bronze levels, no titles in your email signature, no asks of any kind, simply a request to pick their brain about a project you’re working on and a proposed date and time for a meeting. With this mighty tool, I guarantee you’ll see your number of meetings confirmed jump considerably. Tried this and still having trouble? Want to know where to go from there? Use these helpful tips to lead you to sponsorship success, and further help you in this battle against head number one.
Wondering who you can reach out to as potential sponsors? Well, let me help you find 394 warm prospects to reach out to…you’re welcome. How do I know this technique works, you ask? Another great question……because I tried it and lived to tell the tale. In working with some of our staff who were planning a gala for our international students in Canada they came to me for a sponsorship package to approach businesses to sponsor the event. I told them flat out that they wouldn’t need one, and to simply reach out to them via the email example I provided above, and to let me know when what they said. Well they went over my head and made one anyways…. I weep for the wasted time. I ended up taking it and locking it in my drawer. I then proceeded to coach them on how to use this email template and a tool called the sponsorship pipeline to get more sponsorship (which you can learn more about below). The success spoke for itself and they never tried to use a sponsorship package again.
As for those other two heads……you’ll have to wait until next time and see how the story ends.
This post was originally published by the good folks at AFP Toronto.
Christian Robillard, Sponsorship Consultant
Christian’s expertise is firmly within the event and cause sponsorship space. Christian helps our clients identify sellable assets, determine the value of their opportunities, and, most importantly, implement strategies that work.
In addition to his work with The Sponsorship Collective, Christian is completing his masters degree in philanthropy and nonprofit leadership at Carleton University, with a focus on corporate social responsibility and corporate giving, social entrepreneurship, impact investing, and fundraising.