Since I do not know the type of business your youth organization
promotes, I am supplying you with some general recommendations that
you can gear toward your particular needs.
First and foremost, you need to identify the companies that would be
most interested in identifying with and supporting your type of
business. Seek companies committed to youth ventures (especially in
your community) as well as companies that might have an interest or
attachment to they type of business your are developing. Once you have
identified those parameters, you can properly pick and choose helpful
guidelines from the following suggestions!
If you are a youth organization comprised of students from various
schools or neighborhoods, a good direction is to approach business
owners who graduated from the local schools in your area. They are
more likely to have a vested interest in seeing youth from their own
Why Find a Corporate Sponsor?
The following information was excerpted from the Rossetti Enterprises,
Inc. website, and the article "Finding Corporate Sponsors."
"A sponsor is a company or organization that can benefit from having
exposure to your organization. Identify a sponsor based upon their
need to be known and recognized to market their products or services
to your group. It is possible to use more than one company or
organization to co-sponsor a program. Sponsorship is a win-win
situation! The sponsor receives exposure to their target market and
you receive funding for the program!"
2. Write a script of what you plan to say when making the call or
sending the letter.
Why are they the logical sponsor?
How many people will be exposed to the sponsor?
How much money are you requesting?
What will the money be used for?
How much value will they be receiving for their investment?
What is expected of the sponsor?
What do they need to do before the program?
What must they bring to the program?
What must they do at the program
What exposure and recognition will be provided to the sponsor that are
benefits to the sponsor?
Display banners in the meeting room
Display table for literature or products
Exhibit booth space,
Listing on the web site
Ads in newsletter or publications
Distribution of promotional items (Ex. pens, bookmarks, key chains)
Logo on all program related materials
Opportunity to network with participants
Recognition at the program for a representative of the group to stand
Certificate of participation
Mention of sponsorship in press releases
(Please be aware that corporations don't always seek a tangible
benefit, other than the desire to help a group of youth. However, it
is always important that you highlight their sponsorship, especially
on their website, as a means of saying a public "thank you!"
The following information is culled from an article about finding
corporate sponsorship for the "Project del Rio" student river
monitoring environmental project. Although the project is not a
"profit business" as yours is, the information still provides some
Excerpts from "Finding and Keeping Corporate Sponsors," by Craig
Heacock. The Volunteer Monitor, Vol. 5, No. 2, Fall 1993 at
An Investment, Not a Donation
We try to recruit corporations that have a stake in the communities in
our project area. Corporate leaders want to see their donations at
work in the community, and respond favorably to our requests when we
can point out that our work benefits the people who work for and
support the corporation. In approaching potential sponsors, we
emphasize that their donation is really an investment - an investment
in the community and its future, and an investment in the company's
image and public relations.
Making Your Case
Before you approach potential corporate sponsors, you need to have a
thorough vision of your project - not only in your mind, but also on
paper. Prepare an easy-to-read written document, with bulleted main
points and highlighted objectives, that explains your goals, specific
work plans for reaching those goals, and precise monetary needs.
Business people expect their clients and peers to be well organized
and thoughtful in their plans and presentations.
The written presentation should emphasize the program's "selling
New monitoring groups often discover that finding the first corporate
donors is the hardest task. Recruiting new sponsors becomes much
easier once well-known businesses are already on board. If you can
link the new project to an established, respected project, corporate
sponsors may be more willing to take the first plunge. For example,
associating our new project with the well-known and successful GREEN
Rouge River Project in Michigan helped us to convince General Motors
to sign on as our original sponsor
As frustrated telemarketers and neophyte fundraisers know, "cold
calls" are an extremely difficult way to make connections. Therefore,
we always try to use our current sponsors to help find and recruit new
corporations. Lisa LaRocque, Project del Rio Director, points out that
"corporations get many requests for funding. They're more likely to
listen to a request from a peer than from another solicitor."
A little name-dropping never hurts. For example, a letter can start
out, "Joe Smith, one of our project's sponsors, suggested that I write
to tell you about our project." Include a "cc: Joe Smith, CEO, Company
X" at the bottom of the letter.
Often corporate decision makers are hidden behind a maze of
secretaries and closed doors. Industry and trade associations meetings
offer a prime opportunity for current supporters to avoid such
barriers and network directly with potential new sponsors.
The key to maintaining corporate support is to keep corporate sponsors
closely informed of how their money is being spent to help the
community, and appropriately acknowledge their support. At Project del
Rio we try to link sponsors with specific schools or projects, so the
company can tangibly see the fruits of their contribution. Sponsors
might be invited to a monitoring day with "their" school or asked to
join a specific advisory committee.
Publicity is one of the major benefits that a monitoring project can
offer to sponsors. Effective approaches used at Project del Rio
include mentioning sponsors in interim and annual reports, publicizing
a corporation as the major sponsor of a workshop, having the company
name mentioned in newspaper articles, and producing T-shirts with
sponsors' names on them.
We offer sponsors a four-tiered system in which the amount of public
and private acknowledgement a corporation receives is tied to its
level of giving (see figure). We include a copy of this chart in our
funding requests to help sponsors choose their level of investment.
The higher-level donations usually come either from very large
corporations or from company-associated foundations.
We have found that keeping up with our corporate sponsors is a huge
task, so large that we recently decided to hire a new fulltime staff
member to handle public relations. The job involves promoting Project
del Rio not only from the project's perspective but also from the
sponsors' perspective - that is, making sure sponsors are acknowledged
in articles, press releases, and reports. Communicating with sponsors
- thanking them, updating them on program activities and progress,
sending them special invitations to events - is another big part of
the job. Finally, the public relations staffperson needs to assist in
the sponsors' own publicity efforts by providing their public
relations departments with photographs or materials for presentations,
arranging special promotional activities, and so on.
We are sometimes asked whether Project del Rio's reliance on corporate
sponsors affects our agenda or inhibits our actions. LaRocque says, "I
don't feel we've had to compromise. We might not have the support we
do if we took an aggressive approach to advocacy. But we look at
advocacy as conflict resolution."
Ideas to consider when seeking corporate sponsorship
The following was taken from the article, "Principles of Successful
Corporate Sponsorship." Sponsorship Strategies, LLC.
"Properties seeking new corporate alliances and sponsorship can this
use list as a guideline for establishing a new system for program
development, partner recruitment and activation."
Develop a plan: Be smart, strategic and thorough in considering how to
package and deliver benefits to sponsors. Create a plan, work the plan
and revise the plan as needed.
Know your assets: Creatively consider how you can leverage the most
valuable assets of your organization and property to provide true
value to corporate sponsors. Dig deep and consider all options.
Find benefits for all involved: As you devise a plan and conduct due
diligence, identify methods for everyone involved to receive benefit
from corporate sponsorship support. This can include direct revenue
sharing or provision of other benefits such as advertising support,
volunteers or access to corporate contacts.
Determine methods of business development: Find ways to deliver direct
business to corporate sponsors. If you can illustrate methods for
sponsors to directly offset their investment in your organization, you
will see corporate doors open when you come forward.
Provide media: If your organization buys or uses media in any way to
promote activities and programs, be sure to offer sponsors integration
opportunities. If media is not a normal communication platform for
you, consider developing media partnerships before pursuing corporate
Build in community extensions: Whether you represent a for-profit or
not-for-profit organization, creating extensions for the sponsorship
into the community is essential for maximizing sponsorship development
Have a single point of contact: Centralize sponsorship development
activity so that messages are consistent and appropriate. Corporate
contacts will not respond well to organizations that have multiple
people making contacts with the same or similar sponsorship packages.
Leverage community relationships: The best way to establish viable
corporate contacts is to utilize relationships that exist between
members of your constituent community and the corporations doing
business in your area. Someone having a direct contact with the local
fast food franchise owner is a better route into the parent company
than sending a "cold" proposal to the fast food company headquarters.
Find internal advocates: Find someone within a prospective corporate
sponsor company who has affinity for your organization. Finding
someone at a level of authority with some knowledge of, and belief in,
your organization can accelerate consideration of your offering at the
right level within the corporation.
Target appropriate companies: Knowing your constituency and assets is
the first step in being able to identify the type of companies that
should be approached with a sponsorship proposal. Read business
publications and trade magazines to better understand the target
markets of companies you plan to contact. Be honest with yourself
about what companies may be interested in what your organization can
Sell using the "Three P's": Once you have a defined plan, sponsorship
program communications materials and a qualified contact list, make
your contacts with professionalism, patience and persistence. There
are a plethora of other organizations out there seeking a slice of a
finite pie. Those organizations whose proposals rise to the top of the
stack are the ones presenting viable business opportunities
communicated in a professional manner. Practicing "patient
persistence" in making contact with prospects will lead to dialogue
and, eventually, new corporate sponsors.
Always deliver on commitments: Once you have a sponsor, be sure to
fully deliver on all commitments and, where possible, offer additional
benefits at no added cost. This will endear your organization to the
sponsor company, providing a great source for additional corporate
contacts and valuable testimonials. Start thinking renewal as soon as
the first contract starts. Keeping current sponsors is a lot easier
than finding new ones.
Find a Sponsor via a Website Listing Service
Companies such as SponsorDirect help to link organizations and
businesses with corporate sponsors via their website.
Example of a Sponsorship Opportunity Listing:
Corporate Sponsorship Listings
Some possible sources of corporate sponsorship money may be available
by wading through the extensive list of sponsors at "The Foundation
Center." The list is lengthy, and provides the particular focus of
each company when providing sponsorship, so you can easily weed out
the companies which would not consider your organization.
See "Websites of Corporate Grantmakers." The Foundation Center.
Sponsorship Guideline Suggestions
The following is taken from information provided by "Waterwatch
What is Sponsorship?
Sponsorship is an effective marketing and communication tool used by
many businesses, organisations and government agencies, regardless of
their size. Sponsorship is often mistakenly regarded as a form of
corporate generosity. However, sponsorships are not donations, the
sponsor expects their sponsorship will provide a measurable financial
The worthiness of your organisation or cause is not enough in itself
to convince an organisation to sponsor you. When a business is
approached with a sponsorship request, they are looking to see a solid
business proposal that will help them to achieve their business goals.
The general aim of sponsorship is to raise the profile of the
sponsoring organisation, to sell more products or services and to
reach particular target audiences. Sponsorship also promotes a
positive awareness of the organisation with customers, potential
customers and the community.
In large organisations, sponsorship decisions are typically made by
marketing, advertising or corporate communication teams. Some
organisations even have their own personnel or teams responsible for
managing sponsorships. In smaller companies, the owner may make most
Most sponsorships are structured in the form of direct financial
assistance, but this is not the only form of sponsorship. A second
form is "in kind" sponsorship, which involves the sponsor providing
equipment or resources. (e.g a hotel chain might offer discount or
free accommodation as a form of 'in kind' support)
You also should remember that all sponsorship comes with conditions
and obligations, for instance, your sponsoring organisation may:
wish to be a sole or major sponsor
request that their logos, slogans or graphics appear on your
review your budget, strategic plan or other documents
wish to know about current or past sponsors
need to approve press releases and other material
Finding a Sponsor
Begin by looking at organisations in the local region....
You will probably be less likely to secure sponsorship from national
or international organisations, as larger organisations generally
favour sponsoring a handful of high profile events. However, if a
large organisation has headquarters or a large regional presence in
your area, you should always consider approaching them for support.
When you approach an organisation to gain sponsorship, they will check
that your activities and aims are consistent with their company.
Likewise, you should thoroughly research your potential sponsors - and
make sure that you actually want to be involved with them. A poor
sponsor could detrimentally affect the credibility and reputation of
your Waterwatch group
Many publicly listed companies are required by law to produce an
annual report, which can provide valuable background on a company, its
aims, philosophy and major business areas. Press releases,
advertisements and other promotional material can also provide useful
background on how an organisation is positioning itself.
Thorough background research will help you determine if you want to
become involved with a company, and if you do, it will provide a good
basis for customising and 'pitching' your sponsorship proposal.
At some point, you will need to balance the costs and the benefits of
any sponsorship. Some sponsors are quite relaxed, while others are
more demanding. In any case, time and effort will need to be spent
looking after the needs of your sponsor or sponsors. You will have to
balance this effort against the resources, money or assistance that
you sponsor offers.
Contacting Potential Sponsors
Unless you are very lucky, or have an extremely high profile project,
it is unlikely that you will be approached by an organisation willing
to offer you sponsorship. You will have to make the first step.
Usually, you would call or write to the organisation, and ask about
their sponsorship policy. You might also obtain the correct name and
address of the person responsible for handling sponsorships, and
deadlines for sending sponsorship proposals. Many larger organisations
have pre-existing sponsorship guidelines which they will happily send
The most commonly accepted way of seeking sponsorship is by writing a
sponsorship proposal and forwarding it to potential sponsors. It is
possible to present a verbal case for sponsorship, but a written
proposal is much easier for the prospective sponsor to review and
List the Benefits
Your first step in putting together a sponsorship package is
determining what, within your group, is "marketable". List every
tangible and intangible benefit you could potentially offer a sponsor.
You are unlikely to promote all the benefits on your list, but it will
help you begin to understand what you have to offer to a sponsor.
Value your sponsorship on merit, rather than on what you would like to
receive. When initially approaching a sponsor, there may be some value
in asking for slightly less than market rate for your sponsorship.
Remember that you are asking the sponsor to take a risk on your
organisation, and you are looking to establish a long-term, mutually
Writing a Sponsorship Proposal
Each organisation you approach will have different requirements, and
will ask that you provide specific information in your proposal.
Remember to follow any sponsorship guidelines provided by a potential
Your mission when writing a sponsorship proposal is to succinctly
introduce your organisation, provide some background on your
organisation, and to present a logical, well researched argument on
why your organisation is worth sponsoring. Remember that the person
reading your proposal may not have heard of your organisation, so
never assume that they know who your are, or what you do. Try to
create a proposal that is creative, unique and attention grabbing,
without being smart or cute.
The sponsorship proposal is essentially a business pitch, so it should
be professionally presented in terms of content and layout. You should
always try to keep it as brief as possible, and try to address the
following basic points:
Provide a concise overview of your organisation. Include your
location, main activities and goals, a brief history of your
Include the benefits that your organisation can offer a sponsor, and
demonstrate how these benefits relate to the sponsor's ethos, business
goals and activities.
List the credentials of your organisation and key personnel. The
sponsor needs to know that they will be dealing with experienced and
Supply a list of current and past sponsors (if applicable). The
organisation you are approaching will want to review the background of
existing sponsors, and check that you are not being sponsored by a
Provide references or endorsements from past sponsors (if possible).
It is in your interest to establish a track record of successfully
dealing with other sponsors.
Outline any rights that you are prepared to offer the sponsor. Will
the organisation be an exclusive or major sponsor? Alternatively, will
it be one of many sponsors? Are you offering the organisation naming
rights? (this is when the sponsor's name is incorporated into the
title of your group)
Explain the nature and extent of any favourable media coverage your
group has received, and include brief examples.
Supply a realistic estimate of the amount of people who regularly
participate in or who aid the sponsored activities.
Demonstrate the current level of community support and awareness for
your project. Sponsors have a strong interest in supporting projects
that have wide community support
(Please read the remainder of the article about working with and
retaining your sponsors, and avoiding common mistakes!)
As suggested, I would identify those companies who would seem most
interested in your particular business venture. You can also target
wealthy individuals within your community who would like to see local
youth succeed, rather than focus solely on corporations.
Also, remember that sponsors provide money for a variety of reasons.
They do not always want financial gain, themselves. Often, sponsors
contribute money strictly for personal satisfaction. Keep that in mind
when writing letters and approaching individuals!
And, always remember to provide a public "Thank you," via a
newspaper, brochure, or website!! That is extremely important.
I hope this provides enough information for you to gain some valuable
direction! Let me know if you need additional clarification. I will be
more than happy to help if I can.
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