How Nonprofits Can Secure a Corporate Sponsorship

Corporate sponsorships can have plenty of benefits for your nonprofit — follow these strategies to secure more money.

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By Christopher Massimine

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Every nonprofit organization dreams of corporate sponsorship, but the process of applying can seem harrowing.

Corporate sponsorship is a form of marketing where companies provide money, goods, services, or other support to organizations to reach their target audience. Sponsorship can come from cash, in-kind donations, volunteering and more. Companies often partner with nonprofits as part of their corporate social responsibility initiatives.

Nonprofit organizations rely on corporate sponsorships for financial support to help them carry out their charitable work. With a company's backing, nonprofits can raise awareness about their cause, recruit volunteers and even receive discounts on materials that would otherwise be too costly for them to purchase. Additionally, corporate sponsorships can help nonprofits gain access to business networks and resources that they would not be able to have without the support of a corporation. This can open doors for future partnerships and collaboration opportunities that would prove invaluable for any nonprofit organization.

Many steps are involved in the application process, from researching potential sponsors to crafting compelling proposals. In this article, we'll break down each step so you can maximize your chances of receiving corporate sponsorship.

Related: How to Attract Corporate Sponsors

Conduct research

The first step in any corporate sponsorship application is thorough research. You need to understand what types of organizations and companies offer sponsorship opportunities and what kind of programs and initiatives they prioritize. Reach out to potential sponsors directly or look for resources from local organizations specializing in grants and corporate partnerships. Knowledge is power; the more informed you are about your project's landscape and possibilities, the better your chance of securing funding.

Conducting research also allows you to benchmark yourself against similar organizations that have secured corporate sponsorship before. Knowing how much money they received, what terms they agreed to, or what projects their sponsors funded can provide helpful context and help inform your decision-making process. Additionally, analyzing your target market could give you insight into which industries are most likely to invest in your organization's cause.

Data from Candid's 2021 report on Foundation Giving shows corporations have increased their grantmaking capacity by 17%. Additionally, a survey by Salesforce revealed that 84% of consumers purchase from brands that support social causes close to their hearts, like the arts, environment, education or health care — illustrating the importance of crafting proposals tailored specifically towards potential sponsors' interests or goals. Understanding this data can help nonprofits tailor their proposals to make them more appealing to potential sponsors.

Related: Your Nonprofit Needs These 5 Types of Donors

Identify your goals

Once you've done your research, it's time to identify specific goals for your program or initiative. When writing a proposal or making an in-person pitch, include several measurable objectives that demonstrate how successful your project could be after completion. An ambitious yet achievable plan will make a favorable impression on potential sponsors who want to see results from their investment.

According to Deloitte's 2019 Global Sponsorship report, non-cash benefits such as brand visibility (46%) and access (41%) were found to be essential considerations by potential partners when considering applications — creating further incentives for detailed planning ahead. So, be sure to identify the non-cash benefits of your potential partnership.

Write proposals

Now that you know what success looks like and have identified key non-cash benefits applicants should focus on during negotiations — create compelling proposals that outline details on timelines and deliverables accordingly. Everyone wants a piece of the pie regarding corporate funding; make sure each submission is explicitly tailored towards each sponsor's individual needs and interests.

When crafting these proposals, remember that storytelling is critical: use data points throughout the document where appropriate but focus more on creating visualizations with examples/case studies from other successful projects/programs sponsored by corporations in the past. With proper research conducted beforehand, this should become much easier and help increase your chances for success when submitting applications or making pitches in person.

Related: 6 Tips to Smash Your Kickstarter Goal in a Single Day

Be prepared

Before submitting a proposal or making an in-person pitch, all necessary materials must be ready. This means having a formal document with all relevant information such as budgets, timelines, bios of key team members involved etc., as well as any visuals or presentation materials you intend on presenting during meetings with sponsors or partners — having everything organized ahead of time will help ensure nothing slips through the cracks during negotiations.

Additionally, when preparing documents for submission, double-check for accuracy and formatting. It might seem tedious, but small mistakes like typos can and will likely kill your proposal. Formatting helps create an aesthetic consistency throughout submissions which corporate grantmakers value.

Be responsive

Once prospective partners have given approval, continue monitoring progress closely throughout the opportunity while staying responsive if questions arise or changes need to be made during negotiations; prompt replies show professional courtesy/diligence — both are qualities potential partners hold in high regard when considering applicants for their programs.

Keep open lines of communication with prospective sponsors; discuss any updates made promptly so everyone is always informed and aware of where things stand at any given moment — doing this consistently demonstrates commitment partnership which can aid collaboration/troubleshooting down the line.

Related: 12 Best Fundraising Ideas for Your Organization

Follow through

Finally, once an agreement has been reached between involved parties, follow through with commitments made along the way until the project's complete; that ensures satisfaction on each side and paves the way for future collaborations.

At each stage of completion, ensure everyone is aware by sending reports outlining progress made and results achieved. Additionally, suggest other ways both parties can work together in the future; whether providing feedback on failed experiments or helping troubleshoot upcoming initiatives, this kind of openness can often lead to long-term relationships with sponsors who appreciate being kept up-to-date regardless of success or failure.

Now that we've gotten through the gist of landing corporate sponsorships, get out there and start building those relationships today!

Christopher Massimine

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor


Chris Massimine is the CEO of Imagine Tomorrow, a firm that shepherds and sources capital for creative works. Massimine is also a business development consultant, an international theatermaker and executive producer of the upcoming film "The Inventor."

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