There's no question that guests attending your events come for the fun. Whether it's formal galas, golf tournaments, or dance competitions, some invitees won't attend if there isn't an auction. People like to “win” and there is no better way to provide your guests with that special feeling than with an auction. The fun, like a great theme, is what gets people in the door, but sponsorships should always be considered as another potential revenue stream.
Auction Items vs Sponsorships
While we each think that our auction event is the most important thing around, businesses receive tens or dozens of donation requests a year and go on to donate dozens of items. Ordinary donations make up the bulk of the auction action, Sponsors can help increase revenue multiple times over- here is how.
Sponsor Dollars are Marketing Dollars
From the sponsor’s perspective first, they believe in your cause. Second, they want to use their marketing dollars used wisely to access or gain exposure to your audience. By sponsoring a fundraising event the charitable contribution looks good for the business, however, it has to fill a business need as well. Sponsors give a sense of trustworthiness that flows both ways from the charity to the business.
When asking a business to sponsor an event it is typical to want to find their charitable arm, however, if none exists, or is out of money the advertising & marketing department is where you want to go next. The advertising & marketing department has a budget allowance for advertising.
Consider your sponsorship as a business proposal. By advertising with your organization, they will reach their target market. Back this up with data: how many people will see the ad, demographic information, the volume of views. The proposal should include the total number of views or touches. Calculate this in total across all communication channels. How many emails will you send out, how many are on the email list, social media blasts with tags, robocalls, or text messages? These are all tangible and relevant to the potential sponsor.
Offer multiple sponsorship levels. One size does not fit all. Low, medium and high price points provide various entry points for varying budgets. With each higher price point be sure to offer a greater level of exposure. A graduated offering enables businesses to spend within their budget. When creating the sponsorship levels consider the implementation and how you will document and share that the commitment has been filled.
Sponsorships are interesting in that once there are a few others that will follow. Establish the visual space for how sponsors will be honored. When sponsorships are handled with care they will build from year to year compounding the revenue. Treat the sponsors as a partnership. Keeping the communication channel open leads to a more natural long term and repeat commitment.
Shining Example: Sponsors Beget Sponsors
“A marquee sponsor can provide so much more than just funding. A local or national recognized name brings an additional level of goodwill.” Paul, Foundation for Fighting Blindness
It’s not just about getting the sponsor to write a check, it’s about creating a true partnership where sponsors feel as if they are getting something out of the investment. Tell the sponsor about the potential audience and how the sponsor will be recognized. Sponsors that feel they are well treated will be repeat sponsors and tell others! It’s okay to ask the elite sponsors for help in networking with other potential sponsors. When one business sees another in the spotlight, helping a great cause year after year begets attention and additional sponsors.
Follow Through Required
“Treat sponsors like royalty” AJ, Queen Bee Fundraising
Track and follow-through during and after the entire fundraising process. In the implementation process track all the benefits offered and circle back with the sponsor to show the fulfillment of the obligation. Leading up the event confirm logos, links, images, assets, or content. Use a reliable team member to double-check and proofread everything. Avoid discovering a typo or error after publication. Publication refers to paper catalogs, sponsor books, as well as online website presence, and social media posts.
It will be incumbent on you to prove and confirm the ‘worth’ of the investment. If the value has been met or even better, exceeded, then asking the business to sponsor the next event just got a whole lot easier. Even more so you may be able to upsell lower-level sponsorships to higher levels in the future.
During the event give proper honor to the sponsors and thank them for their generosity. Remember, the businesses invested in part for exposure to the audience so it is your duty to bring attention to their contribution.
After the event concludes, now is your time to shine. Share with the sponsor how much was raised, and even more importantly how the funds will be used to make a difference. Continue the conversation both ways. Report additional progress in usage, and share with event-goers the sponsors that helped make it happen. Make it a goal to convert sponsors into long-term relationships. Relationships that you can depend on for support and income year over year. When bidders, volunteers, casual participants see the genuineness this can
In this webinar we shared:
- Where sponsor dollars come from
- How to think like a marketing guru
- Creating an irresistible sponsor deck
- Prospecting and outreach
- Treating sponsors like royalty
- Keeping the sponsor love flowing
Where to Start in Finding Sponsorships
Always start with who you know. If you are a school, reach out to the parents of the students. If they are not in a position to sponsor, perhaps their employer is or they're friends with local business owners. Next, see who might have aligned interests with your organization. For example, the ambulette company's business grows with the local hospital's success so they should be towards the top of the hospital's list of probable sponsors.
Target your message to the businesses you're approaching:
Always always always ask the vendors your organization uses to become sponsors. If they appreciate your business, donating to your event is the least they can do. Questions to think about:
- Having a valet at your event? Car dealerships love to sponsor them. If there's room, allow them to display a couple of their flagship vehicles.
- Are you a school? Ask the local children's toys and clothing stores to sponsor a “priceless” opportunity like a 30 second “all you can grab shopping spree”.
- Red carpet sponsorship? Local newspapers and magazines are the perfect fit. They really want their readers to know that they are an active part of the community.
Getting the word out beyond your own network can be challenging. MBOpp.com is a solution. MBOpp was created because there isn't enough time to reach every single potential sponsor; and do you even know who the potential sponsors are? MBOpp gives you the chance to have interested sponsors come to you.
While we all know that even a few hundred dollars can make a huge impact on a charitable organization, to many large organizations, it isn't even a rounding error. Whether it's $300 or $30,000, always ask for your top-level sponsorship from these organizations. The worst they can say is “no” but they'll most likely just pick a lower level sponsorship.
If when asking for a donation and are told “no”, you've lost nothing but the time it took to ask. You'll be told “yes” more than you'd expect. Even if it's a little “yes”, a bunch of little “yeses” turn into a significant impact on your organization.
Shining Example: Spotlight Hoedown for Hope
“Showing dedication to past sponsors keeps them coming back year after year.”- Kim, Spokane HOPE
The HOPE auction team shared their sponsor success story. The sponsorship volunteers also believe that ‘no’ isn't always a no. Flexibility here too goes a long way in complete dedication to doing anything that helps build the auction. Again, they start with a beautiful one-page document describing what it means to be a sponsor. The document is well balanced illustrating what the sponsor gets out of it on the business side in addition to how the sponsorship will help the deaf and hard of hearing children. They have incorporated many HOPE children on the Sponsorship Level page, as those precious faces touch hearts deeply and bring investors on board.
If the potential sponsor says no, the team is committed to learning why, hoping to make their best effort to turn a no into a yes. They have found persistence has paid off and asking a few more questions to understand the reason behind the no. For example, the procurement team was talking to a construction equipment manufacturer. This is not your typical consumer product, so a product donation is not applicable. After asking in a different way “if there is anything that you can donate that would be valuable, they would be appreciative”, sure enough, the large equipment manufacturer has a stock of Yeti coolers and tumblers they use as client gifts. They donated a cooler package and it of course attracted bids and helped raise money.
Recognize Sponsors and Make it Shareable
Recognize the sponsors in public, in ways that reach their target audience as well as yours. Use logos when possible. Use live links when possible. On paper recognize the sponsors in a catalog or sponsor book either printed or as an e-book format. Think about other pieces of collateral or correspondence to thank key sponsors: flyers, invitations, or statements.
Make it easy for Sponsors to share. Recognize the sponsors on social media by tagging them as well as your event. Do this multiple times throughout the fundraising process. When you tag them it shows up in their notifications and is then much easier for the Sponsor to re-share, re-post and respond to. If you really want to make the sponsor feel special, create graphics that highlight the single sponsor, they are much more likely to share the information further and wider.
Using Auctria to Enhance Sponsorships
Auctria makes it easy to provide distinct value that groups can offer sponsorships in return for financial payment.
Before the event launches use Auctria to sell sponsorships. This streamlines the sale and gives the sponsor a good idea of how the event website will be established. Set these up as For Sale items and sponsors can purchase directly on the website. This makes for ease in tracking and collections.
Sponsors can be listed on your auction event website in the form of a Sponsorship page or a Sponsorship banner. The banner can be affixed to the header or footer of the website for even greater visibility. The logo of the Sponsor can be linked to their website for even greater value-add.
On the event website Sponsor can be recognized on a Sponsorship page or a Sponsorship row. For event greater visibility and honor a Sponsorship row can be placed on the Header or Footer. This is typically used for Title sponsors for broader marketing prominence. This is easy to construct with Auctria's pre-built Sponsorhsip Element.
Add a sponsorship to your website in less than 30 seconds.
Evaluate what your event fundraiser can offer to potential sponsors. Keep in mind that this is a two-pronged opportunity: 1. To support a great cause, 2. Market to current or new customers. Then create a few levels of sponsorship with marketing materials to match. Make it easy for sponsors to say yes and pay. As you sign on new sponsors add them to the website, include on flyers & letters. Do acknowledge and tag on social media so it’s easy for the sponsor to repost, retweet, and reshare. Immediate and ongoing recognition will demonstrate commitment and appreciation. Use images and video and direct links to the event fundraiser to help show as well as tell the story.