The days of companies simply wanting to be "good corporate citizens" are long gone. They've been replaced by charities and corporations entering into strategic and value oriented relationships. Today's nonprofits need to articulate what they can offer a corporate sponsor that can help them grow their business. Organizations that can answer the following three questions are the most likely winners when it comes to securing sponsors:
1. What is your organization's Brand and Delivery Promise?
Your nonprofit needs to say what you intend to do and what you've actually done. If there's a gap, how are you narrowing it? If your organization's mission is to reduce gang violence by 25% in a specific community and you've helped reduce it by 15%, how is that other 10% going to happen? What are the alternatives and solutions if that doesn't happen the way you planned? Nonprofits should have the same levels of accountability as the corporate world. Remember back in the early 80's when Domino's promised 30 minute pizza delivery? They backed it up with a guarantee of free pizza if they didn't deliver on that promise. While the charitable community is tackling much bigger problems than late-night munchies, what level of accountability can we hold ourselves to?
2. What makes your organization unique in its space?
Chances are, there's a charitable organization that does something similar to what you do. They could be wooing your prospective sponsor as you read this (yikes!) As just one quick example, the organization I founded several years ago focuses on running and mentoring. As per idealist.org there are 37 organizations in the New York area that circle youth, mentoring and sports. Just imagine the competition on a national basis.
What makes your organization utterly one-of-a-kind? Is it knowledge, research, program, staff, leadership or something else entirely? Be able to share it quickly and clearly.
3. HOW CAN YOUR NONPROFIT HELP A SPONSOR GROW THEIR BUSINESS?
All of the above matters if and only if you can connect your mission based work to helping your sponsor increase visibility and engage prospects and existing customers more deeply with their brand. Take the time to understand your sponsor's business objectives and create a platform that addresses them in ways they can't themselves. For example, a granola bar company can talk about and even advertise how they stand for educating our next generation about healthy food choices and exercise. That message is reinforced in a truly authentic way when they sponsor a charity running program for teens with both cash and in-kind donations of their product. Partnerships where both the charity an d the sponsor move closer to their mission is the ultimate goal.
These are the questions that we, as nonprofits, need to be answering to ensure the future of our work.
twitter: @trainingforgood / blog: http://www.trainingforgoodinc.com/blog-basic-training