Nonprofit sponsorships are a great way for companies to give back while also helping to build their brand, but oftentimes, companies struggle to find the right nonprofit to sponsor. Briefly, sponsorships involve the sponsor giving the receiving organization money, goods, or services in exchange for marketing or advertising of some kind. For example, the sponsor may pay the nonprofit, and in exchange, the nonprofit may put the sponsor’s brand name and logo in all advertising for their next event.
Sponsorships benefit all involved, but that doesn’t mean you should accept every sponsorship opportunity that comes along, even if you can afford it. Choosing the wrong nonprofit to sponsor could hurt the image of your brand, so it is important to make the selection carefully. At Blackbird Philanthropy Advisors, we work with business owners to help them make strategic moves for the maximum benefit of all, and have helped countless companies to find the perfect sponsorship opportunities for them. Keep reading to discover a few key things to consider when choosing a nonprofit to sponsor.
As you begin your search for the right nonprofit, it is important to consider your company’s connection to various causes and organizations. You should be looking for nonprofits whose causes correlate with the work you are doing, the area in which you operate, etc. Sure, you could select a nonprofit doing work you find interesting, but that won’t directly help your brand. The goal with nonprofit sponsorships is to benefit both parties involved, but if you choose a cause that is entirely unrelated to your business, you could end up with the short end of the stick.
When creating a sponsorship agreement with any nonprofit, it is important to know a little about the people that are running the organization. Sometimes, business owners discover nonprofit sponsorship opportunities that seem perfect, until they delve deeper into the beliefs or methodologies of their leadership. In some cases, it may be something small about the people associated with the nonprofit that turns you off from the opportunity, and in other cases, the amazing people you build connections with could seal the deal.
While considering any sponsorship opportunity, it is important to look closely at the benefits you are being offered. At first glance, many nonprofit sponsorship seem like they could be highly beneficial for any organization, but it is important to look past the surface to make sure that you are truly a good fit. To ensure you stay on target and don’t miss out on the benefits you are looking for, it is a good idea to have your expectations set from the start.
Once you find a possible candidate, communicate these expectations clearly, since knowing what you need from the sponsorship will help your nonprofit partner to fulfill their end of the bargain. Discuss topics like creative say and approval, how to establish public recognition, how you would like your brand represented, and so on.
Values & Goals
Sponsorship proposals come in many forms, and can include tons of varying information and detail. While looking through any sponsorship proposal, it is important to look out for signs that your company’s values or goals may not align with the proposal. You could, for example, discover that the nonprofit would only want to commit to putting your brand on their events for a few months, while you are looking for a longer-term agreement.
If the sponsorship doesn’t align with where you want to go, and where you imagine your company will be in 3, 5, or 10 years, keep looking. If the values of your company and the nonprofit you plant to sponsor don’t coincide, you will be setting yourself up for disappointment right from the start.
While you should certainly focus on the positive impact sponsoring a nonprofit could have, looking at the possible negative impact of not sponsoring the nonprofit can be equally as valuable. What would happen to your company if you didn’t sponsor? Would you be able to get the word out about yourself the way a nonprofit could? Will you choose to align yourself with another nonprofit? Would your company image be hurt if you didn’t take the sponsorship?
Similarly, consider what impact choosing to not sponsor could have on the nonprofit. Is your company the one most suited to sponsor this organization? Would public perception of the nonprofit be hurt if you don’t sponsor them? Would they be better off with a different sponsor, or would your brand help raise their visibility? Whether you sponsor or not, you will be making an impact, so be sure to assess all your options before you make a decision.
As you search for nonprofit sponsorship prospects, be sure to only seriously consider those with good reputations. It is relatively easy to find out whether or not a nonprofit has a good repudiation, especially since a quick Google will give you all the news and information you could need. Beyond simply researching public perception of the nonprofit, it is also a good idea to verify that they are a registered 501 c3, and that they have all their credentials in order.
Many nonprofit sponsorships include the chance to speak at or be featured at an event, which can be an amazing way to spread awareness of your brand. By sponsoring nonprofit events, and having your brand prominently displayed and mentioned throughout, you are showing potential customers the values of your company. Should you discover a nonprofit sponsorship with proposed events, think first about who will be attending and whether or not they would be interested in what your company has to offer.
Standing in front of the right audience can spark tons of opportunities, but if the audience wouldn’t be interested in you if you weren’t the sponsor of the event, things can go a bit sour. Assess what kind of people are interested in the nonprofit you are considering, and determine whether their interests overlap with the interests of your customers.
Sponsoring a nonprofit can be a great way to gain more brand recognition, and help your company to stand out from the competition. Alignment with a nonprofit not only boosts your advertising, but it can also make your company seem more appealing to prospective customers. If heightened recognition is the goal, choose recognizable nonprofits with track records of sponsored events.
Finally, one of the best ways to determine whether a nonprofit sponsorship is right for your company is by assessing how their staff treats yours. If you feel comfortable around the people running and managing the nonprofit, and your staff has good experiences collaborating with them, this is a great indication that you could create a highly successful sponsorship. Everyone should be benefiting from the opportunity, so be wary of anyone that seems negative, standoffish, or unwilling to communicate.
Check out more tips, tricks, and advice for nonprofits and philanthropic organizations by visiting Blackbird Philanthropy Advisors online today! While you’re there, be sure to take a look at our blog for lots more content just like this.
Some nonprofit organizers make the mistake of believing that their work with donors is done once they have received donations, but in truth, the work of fostering relationships with and connecting with donors is never complete. The first donation should be the first of many, and if you have put in the time and effort to cultivating close relationships with your donors, this will happen naturally.
One of the best ways to create relationships with donors and to keep them interested in your organization is by regularly keeping in contact, and the easiest way to do this is through an e-newsletter. E-newsletters can be sent via email or text, and can be displayed on your website for visitors to peruse. The newsletter format helps to keep donors informed of the goings-on of your organization, and acts as a gentle reminder that you are still out there and doing work that needs to be funded.
Sending donors and supporters of your organization regular information regarding your nonprofit’s progress and work is also a good way to build trust, since your e-newsletter is the perfect place to demonstrate good stewardship.
What To Include In Your Newsletter
Whether you have written hundreds of newsletters, or are reading this as your first step to creating an e-newsletter for your nonprofit, the most important thing to remember is to include only information and stories your donors would be interested in. Magazines curate articles and content based on what their readers are interested in, which is why you don’t see much fashion in Bassmaster and you don’t often find mention of river safety in US Weekly.
Like entertainment publications, you should be sticking to the content your donors want to see, like success stories from people, organizations, or communities that have benefited from your work. Donors like to see the impact of their donations, and including success stories in your e-newsletters is a great way to do just that.
Other content that can help you to build your donor network and keep individuals engaged could include information on upcoming events, project and program updates, information on relevant news and current events, and information on how donors can volunteer, donate, and help.
Written by Alina Dizik for Chicago Booth. Published June 11, 2018.
A company, if it clearly conveys during the recruiting process its intent to benefit society, can see lasting benefits, research finds. University of Chicago’s Daniel Hedblom, Queen’s University’s Brent R. Hickman, and List used data to track how advertising a company’s support of a nonprofit impacted recruiting and work quality.
To do this, they performed an experiment that doubled as a business venture, which involved launching a data-collection consulting company and hiring 170 part-time workers in 12 US cities. The initial job descriptions they posted were identical, but the researchers tweaked the job details in later emails. When people inquired about positions, they received an email saying the work would consist of either data entry or data entry to benefit underprivileged children. The researchers also varied pay rates, offering some applicants $15 an hour and others $11.
When hired, employees were assigned data-entry tasks that involved looking at Google Street View. Some were asked to tally the number of broken windows or potholes in each image, which produced data that was used in some cases to help identify safe areas near schools where administrators were trying to help students avoid gang violence, and in other cases to benefit Uber. (List is a consultant for Uber.)
Workers who expressed interest in a data-collection company, created as part of a study, were more likely to apply when the position’s social impact was advertised. 1
Helping schoolkids involved a social impact—and had a big effect on recruiting. When that social mission was mentioned in emails, the company saw 26 percent more people interested in the job, comparable to the 33 percent bump the company saw when it offered $15 an hour. Advertising jobs that had a social mission improved the pool of applicants, with no additional, and potentially expensive, recruiting tactics required. “This generation of young workers is more compelled than previous generations to do social good,” List says.
People who accepted a job originally advertised as CSR-driven were also more effective at work. Employees in the CSR group were more productive, analyzing images in a shorter amount of time than other workers. And while all employees could work any number of hours over a 10-day period, those in the CSR group worked longer hours.
Both women and men were affected by corporate responsibility, but in different ways. Women were 40 percent more productive in accurately analyzing Google Street View images as a result of CSR and worked an hour more per day. Men produced higher-quality results but did not increase the number of images that they analyzed. “Together, these insights suggest that CSR draws out higher output from women and higher quality from men,” the researchers write. “CSR should not be viewed as a necessary distraction from a profit motive, but rather as an important part of profit maximization similar to other non-pecuniary incentives.” Customers and employees, List assures, will still view CSR as authentic, even if it is recognized to boost profits.
While the results suggest that CSR can have strong, positive effects, List recommends companies keep the findings on moral licensing in mind and monitor employee behavior. He notes that because so much behavior is driven subconsciously, simply making employees aware of the tendency to couple good actions with bad could counteract the bias.
What happens when your nonprofit is engulfed in scandal? Or what if you have a board member or highly visible donor who’s reputation is significantly on the rocks? As always, being prepared for crisis and scandal is always the best policy. Every nonprofit leader should know when and how to act in times of trouble. Managing these crises is especially important when it comes to fundraising and mission advancement.
Fundraising is all about managing relationships. In times of controversy or not, nonprofit executives should be carefully navigating through their relationships with stakeholders. When there is a crisis, the trust they’ve built along the way will have the biggest impact on successfully wading through the times of murky waters. In general, it is good to have open, honest communication with all of your stakeholders so a crisis doesn’t tip you over the edge but makes everyone come out stronger.
If news breaks that a major donor was engulfed in scandal, a nonprofit executive should remain calm and act swiftly with integrity. A solution and plan of action to mitigate the crisis should be immediately ready to go. This includes knowing who to pull into a room for immediate strategy, who to contact first, and who are the best people to carry out the plan. Communicating clearly, concisely is paramount.
Your main strategy will need to be disassociating your mission with the person experiencing the scandal. Your core group of loyal stakeholders should continue to feel that you are an organization they can trust. Continue to align their passions and initial interest in the work of your organization with the impact and mission you make in the world. The scandal could, in effect, give you an opportunity to engage your stakeholders in a closer, meaningful way that ignites even more respect and loyalty than before.
Should your company publish a community philanthropy investment / Corporate Social Responsibility annual report?
What do Exxon Mobile, Toyota, Coca Cola Berkshire Hathaway, and Apple all have in common? In addition to being some of the most successful companies in world history, they are all also leaders in Corporate Social Responsibility. Entire teams are deployed to build strategic implementation plans to invest in the communities they serve. They develop their community investment plans and corporate philanthropy alongside the highest levels of leadership and produce annual reports to measure, monitor, and report on their social impacts just as they would report on financial returns to investors.
93 percent of the world's largest companies publish an annual report that details community investment and social responsibility initiatives.
You may already guess we absolutely think every company should have a community investment plan -- but should you also plan to publish an impact report? Don't overthink it. A community impact report could be a small as a quick letter to stakeholders with some facts and figures about philanthropy and volunteerism for year. Or, on the complete other end of the spectrum, you could publish a full multi-page, professionally produced report that holds your company accountable to your commitment to the communities you serve year to year.
Key questions to consider when building out a Philanthropy / CSR / Impact / Community Investment annual report:
Read more about what an annual report could include in Boston College's helpful "How to Read a Corporate Social Responsbility Report" guide.
Don't know where to start?
Take a cue from American Express, CISCO, Blue Cross Blue Shield and others in the sample reports we've compiled for you below. When you take a look at the reports, consider all the different ways companies can measure impact, philanthropy, and achieve their financial goals while doing it.