Sponsorship Lessons from the Arts

Word About their Sponsors story

Sponsorship is becoming more important than ever, particularly for the arts. So it was rewarding to open the Sunday newspaper and see an article devoted to how arts organizations and companies are coming together in a deeper way. Since sponsorship is my sweet spot, I perked right up. Here are my key  take-aways. (Click Article A Word from Their Sponsor 07 23 17 to read the whole Star Tribune story.)

The article says:

“Companies are devoting more dollars to causes that match their missions…”

“Typically, 75,000 people will see our summer musical, so that’s just a smart business decision…”

Kim says:

Audience is king. The better the match between your audience(s) and the people your prospect wants to reach, the better your chances of sponsorship success.

The article says:

“As companies’ philanthropic portfolios shrink or shift… makes it necessary that arts groups become more accomplished and adept at truly forming partnerships, not just holding out a tin cup.”

“Companies want meaningful engagement.”

“Corporations are much more concerned about the bottom line. They want to see a return on investment – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.”

Kim says:

Sponsorship dollars come from the marketing budget – and are spent to help accomplish a marketing goal.


The article says:

“US Bank is not only sponsoring the artist-designed mini-golf, it’s inviting employees to play and offering discounts for cardholders…”

“It’s about… creating communities where we know our guests, our team members can thrive.”

Kim says:

The arts and education, in particular, can help sponsors meet goals about recruiting and retaining talent.


Does this spark new ideas for you? As always, I’m available to answer questions, or for “thinking out loud” about your sponsorship efforts.Article A Word from Their Sponsor 07 23 17Article A Word from Their Sponsor 07 23 17

Share Button

Bring Your Questions!

Want to know more about corporate giving, sponsorships and partnerships? Join me for the Fundraising Networking Brown Bag Lunch, co-sponsored by the Association of Fundraising Professionals-Minnesota Chapter and the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits.

When: Noon – 1:00 p.m. , Wed., Feb. 15, 2017

Where: Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, 2324 University Ave. W., Suite 114, St. Paul, MN

I’ll walk you through the basics and differences between corporate foundation grants, cause-related marketing, and sponsorship/partnership funding. We’ll take a look at the latest trends in corporate funding for nonprofits. Best of all, we’ll answer your questions.

Bring your lunch and business cards!

This networking session is free, and no RSVP is necessary. Hope to see you there!

Share Button

5 Signs You’re Sponsor Ready

sponsors welcomeAre you ready for sponsorship?

Yes, if you have:

1. Bandwidth. Sponsorship isn’t just about doing the work to sign a like-minded company. It’s also about going above and beyond to deliver the benefits promised — ensuring the sponsor’s goals are met. That takes staff/volunteer time.

2. Patience. Lead time may be from 6 to 12 months, with implementation after that.

3. Relationships. Board and staff leaders and friends must be willing to introduce you to marketing decision-makers at prospect companies.

4. Data. Prospects want to know who you represent, how many people you reach, and how you reach them.

5. Social media. Sponsors list presence in digital/social/mobile media as one of the most sought-after benefits, the top way to leverage their sponsorship, and a key metric to measure success.


Share Button

Say the Magic Words for More Corporate Sponsorships

In previous posts, I’ve encouraged you to ditch the “Olympic medal” mentality and focus on creating corporate sponsorship benefits that meet the prospect’s goals. Here to echo the theme – and provide two really helpful phrases you can use right away Continue reading

Share Button

A Winning Formula for Prospect Meetings


Hi, my name is Kim and I like to work with nonprofit organizations, travel, read (especially mysteries), try new … yada… yada… yada…

 Overwhelm you yet?

That might be what it sounds like when you meet with a prospective corporate funder for the very first time. The challenges your nonprofit is trying to solve are complex. (If they were easy, you would have solved them already, right?) So it’s understandable that you are tempted to paint a detailed picture of what your organization does and who it benefits.

Clear the clutter by turning that thinking upside down. Instead, try this formula for your next prospect meeting: Continue reading

Share Button

Mailbag: Make Your Partnership Proposal Stand Out from the Pack

Q: What elements of our proposal might be considered advantageous when compared with other opportunities the prospect may have?

A:  There are two simple things you can do to make your proposal stand head and shoulders above the rest.

First, ditch the Olympic medal mentality. A blind proposal offering “bronze, silver or gold” lists of benefits at menu pricing is still being offered, but it’s not the most attractive or up-to-date model. Apart from conferences, it doesn’t work very well either. How do you make the medal levels distinctive when you’re asking for funds to carry out a program over the course of several months or a year? How will you establish benefits when the audience is far-flung instead of gathered in a ballroom? Wise nonprofits don’t.

Second, ask smart questions to find out more about the prospect’s marketing goals, then tailor your proposal to address them. If you can address at least two common goals in your proposal, you will be well ahead of the pack.

Mazarine, fundraising guru and blogger at wildwomanfundraising.org, has a list of questions to help nonprofits discover common ground with their prospective funders. I particularly like five of her questions:

  1. Do you want to enhance aspects of your company’s reputation? Asking this will help you get beyond assumptions and learn more about the company’s priorities. A company you assumed wanted to focus on environmental responsibility may really be trying to become known as a great place to work.
  2. What do you most want the public to know about your company? There may be plans on the drawing board that you’re not yet aware of… new products, shifting demographics, or even a new mission statement.
  3. Are you facing challenges in attracting or maintaining a motivated or skilled workforce? Companies that encourage employees to volunteer are more likely to be listed as great workplaces. Providing volunteer opportunities may be the win-win start to a great relationship with your prospective funder.
  4. Would aligning with this nonprofit give your prospective funder a competitive edge? (If not, how did this company make it from your “suspect” list to your “prospect” list, right?)
  5. Are there specific products you are trying to position? The answer may provide food for thought.

Making the connection: To stand out from the pack, break out of the Olympic medal mode and demonstrate how your nonprofit can help the company meet its business goals. Do you have favorite questions to add to the list above?

Share Button