As we welcome the new decade, we also welcome a new set of standards for impressing and building relationships with sponsorsThe future of fundraising remains dependent on unifying sponsors with nonprofits to create a consistent event both center stage and behind the scenes.   

What most nonprofits misunderstand about event sponsorships. 

Relationships between nonprofits and sponsors may start mutually beneficial but can eventually become a win-lose relationship. This win-lose relationship can, unfortunately, blossom into a nonprofit receiving fewer benefits than agreed upon due to the little incentive to remain accountable by sponsors. This results in both parties feeling unsatisfied and resentful of the partnership, making it unlikely to continue. Having a win-lose or lose-lose approach to finding sponsors makes a relationship feel transactional, limiting the impactful and long-lasting connection you could make.  

Creating a win-win for both nonprofits and sponsors.

By shifting to a win-win mindset, nonprofits find success in partnering with sponsors who resonate with their missions. Having sponsors who are aligned with your event increases the likelihood of your attendees supporting your sponsors, creating an environment that a sponsor would be likely to return to in the future.   

Ways to demonstrate partnerships with your event sponsors.

When establishing a relationship with your event sponsor, it is important to consider this event as a gateway toward relationship with leaders within that organization. For corporate partnerships, be on the lookout for a partner who understands how to promote their brand as supporters of the cause 

To keep sponsors satisfied, focus on five pillars of establishing a worthwhile connection which resonates on both sides of the relationship: 

1. Communication  

Craft a contract with your sponsor which goes into detail on the deliverables and when your sponsor can expect them. Keep to your word and be sure to have clear, written expectations on the execution, location, and nature of the deliverable. If you agreed to have a 10×10 sign with their logo – make sure it is completed to your highest ability and let your sponsors know where they can find it. This aids in the building and nurturing of the relationship between you and your potential partner.  

2. Brand visibility  

One of the biggest benefits nonprofits can provide to their sponsors is visibility onsite at an event. Place sponsorship logos everywhere and anywhere possible. This could be on t-shirts, email campaigns, landing pages, print ads, signage, and on social media. Wherever you advertise your event, be sure to thank your sponsors by including their brand 

3. Recognition  

Though important, just visibly being recognized is not enough to keep sponsors returning. Particularly corporate sponsors want to be recognized for their contributions to your efforts. Mention your sponsors onsite during the opening and closing remarks, interviews, and during receptions onsite. Other ways to have sponsors feel appreciated can be accomplished through benefits such as VIP tickets to your event or a special seat during your keynote speaker. 

4. Creative approval 

When using an organization’s logo, you’ll want to share your plans with the sponsors so they may be sure their brand is being represented accurately. Allowing sponsors to participate in the approval process helps to build trust between nonprofits and partners. Sending a proof to the marketing contact of a sponsor can help partners feel their contribution is going towards those who appreciate, respect and support them in return.  

5. Metrics  

In the decision to become a sponsor for an event, sponsors expect the ability to measure the return on their investment when the event closes. Keeping the importance of visibility in mind, nonprofits can deliver metrics on their marketing efforts as the major return for sponsors. Reporting on the impressions, opens, recipients, likes, and shares of ads, email campaigns, direct mail, and social media posts. To report on the less tangible items, such as brand loyalty or recognition, surveys at the close of an event can provide useful feedback for sponsors.  


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More on sponsorships in this webinar, on the blog
and in these regional donation guides to get you started.


Want to talk about the specifics of your event? Let’s.

Kelsey Woodworth