What happens next after you develop your sponsorship prospect list for your next special event? Do you send them all the same letter? Do you make personal phone calls? To whom? How do you get in the door? Who should you ask first?
I often work with groups who either blanket send out their sponsorship letters with no strategy sending the same letter to their entire universe of prospects and “wait for the best” or refuse to conduct any personal solicitation of their potential sponsors. Both of these approaches are just incorrect.
Corporate sponsors while institutions are still run by people. These people are the ones who ultimately make the decision. If you fail to take a personal approach with sponsorships, you will be failing to choose the best approach.
So, what happens after you have created your sponsorship list? Who do you decide to reach out to personally?
Below are the steps that I recommend my clients take after they have developed their sponsorship prospect list. And, I may add that it is not too dissimilar to the approach you would take in individual/major gift fundraising either. Corporations are run by people as well!
- Once you have your prospect list and your sponsorship opportunities outlined, you should rate and rank your sponsorship list. Determine the prospect with the highest degree of interest in your cause, as well as the prospect with the most significant capacity. Once you have rated and ranked your prospective sponsor list, you now know who to approach and when.
- You then take that list and segment it according to who needs to be asked in person (i.e., those from whom you are seeking the most significant gift).
- I do not recommend that you solicit everyone using the same standard method. Sending out a sponsorship letter outlining the benefits, and hoping for the best, rarely works according to plan.
- Segment out those top prospective sponsors and schedule a meeting with them. Just as you need to ask your major donors in person for a gift, you need to do the same with your major prospective sponsors.
- Include those who you have targeted for potential upgrade sponsorships. Perhaps you have some tried and true sponsors who have been giving at a lower level, and now you want to ask them to consider supporting you at a higher level. With custom-tailored WIIFT sponsorship benefits, you also need to do this upgrade using more personal asks.
- Once you have segmented your major donors and prospective upgrades, you can then mail your sponsorship letter and benefit levels to the rest.
As everything in fund development is relational, so is sponsorship. Determine who has relationships with your major donors and then leverage those relationships so that you can ask in person for a sponsorship. Very rarely does a “cold call” work with sponsorships. So, stop sending out “blanket appeals” to all your sponsors for fear of asking in person. Take the best approach. After all, corporations are run by people too!
For a more in-depth dive into Event Sponsorships, please register for my upcoming webinar, Securing Your Event Sponsorships, to be held on March 21 at 1 p.m. For more information or to register, please visit here!
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