Asking for help may seem like a daunting task. And when you’re competing against tough economic times and other groups looking to secure sponsorship dollars, it can feel downright intimidating. But if you’re working with a non-profit, arts organization or festival, chances are you will have to seek out help at one point or another.
While it may seem complex, navigating the world of corporate sponsorships doesn’t have to be a stress-inducing experience. With the right tools, open communication channels and knowledge about what corporate sponsors are looking for (and aren’t looking for), you can build strong, solid partnerships that will last for the long haul.
Alex Collins (M.PR Communications Lead, Statoil Canada) and Aimee Igloliorte (a communications consultant in the oil and gas industry) shared some pointers with Business & Arts NL in advance of their session “Navigating Corporate Sponsorships” on October 24 at St. John’s City Hall.
Business & Arts NL: When it comes to building corporate sponsorships, can you offer a few tips for making a good first impression and establishing a good rapport?
Alex Collins & Aimee Igloliorte: The best way to make a good impression is to be prepared. You should show that you understand the corporation and its community investment strategy and philanthropic vision and show how working with your organization will enhance that strategy and better the community. Many potential sponsors are happy to share their investment strategies and visions in advance so you can make sure your proposal fits well with their goals when you apply – making effective use of your resources and the sponsor’s time. Sponsors can often receive hundreds of applications for support, so making sure yours stands out and fits with the organization is critical to success.
Business & Arts NL: When evaluating arts organizations/programs to potentially partner with, what are some of the things that corporate sponsors are looking for?
AC & AI: Corporate sponsors are looking at a variety of criteria when evaluating organizations/programs to potentially partner with. They want to know how it fits with the company’s overall vision and corporate social responsibility or community investment strategy. They need to see the value it will bring the corporation but also the impact partnering will have on the community. They want to know the need in the community and how, quantitatively as well as qualitatively, it will benefit the community. Often corporations will include information on their community work on their websites and highlight the criteria. If not, reach out to the organization to understand their criteria and sponsorship goals.
It’s also important to look for opportunities to evolve a partnership – particularly for longer-term relationships, ask yourself: how can we grow the sponsorship or activity? What have we learned from past activities that we can apply in the future to improve the sponsorship or relationship? Consistently looking for new opportunities to mature and improve the partnership is important to securing a longer-term relationship.
Business & Arts NL: Once a strong relationship has been established, how frequently should the arts partner touch base with the corporate sponsor? How much is too much?
AC & AI: The frequency of contact between a corporate sponsor and a community partner greatly depends on the level of partnership and how much the corporate sponsor wants to be involved. Be proactive and ask the corporation how often they would like contact and in what form – are email updates or annual/quarterly/monthly reports required? It is critical that at the beginning of a partnership – and at regular check points in the relationship – that both parties understand what is expected from one another. Having mutually agreed upon goals and objectives for the partnership will help to ensure a successful relationship. For a high-level partnership the community partner should update prior to and after any significant event (i.e., a gala or special fundraiser), as well as do the same for sponsoring of a particular program.
Partnerships work best when there is open communication and sharing of information. When everyone understands the partnership and mutual expectations, their respective roles and responsibilities and work together, they can truly create change and better the community. That’s when the magic happens.
Workshop – Navigating Corporate Sponsorships
Date: Monday, October 24 from 4pm-5pm
Location: St. John’s City Hall, Foran-Greene Room
Price: Free, advance registration is not required.
For more information on Alex and Aimee’s workshop, click here.
Note: This session is preceded by Employment Law for Arts Organizations and Festivals with Matthew Moulton and Melissa Royle of Benson Buffett from 1pm-4pm in the same location. Employment Law for Arts Organizations and Festivals is free for Business & Arts NL members/$30 for non-members, and registration is required. For more information on this session, click here.