For your sponsorship ask, pre-approach is such a critical, pivotal point in getting ready to go and ask for those dollars to support your mission from another organization.
There are six things I think you need to do during this pre approach to make your ask stronger than ever.
- The first is to gain organizational understanding. Learn as much as you can about the prospective partner before you ever arrive, aim to understand their operating environment. Start with basic info about locations, leadership, time they have been in business, and the customers they serve. General press coverage, the number of employees they have, industry trends, existing partnerships and causes that they support, all of this offers so much we can learn about what’s going on in the prospect organization and what they’re supporting before we ever go and ask for ourselves.
- Second, study key performance data. This is much easier in public companies that in private ones, but do the best you can to obtain info on revenue, market share, charitable spending, and any other data that will give you a sense of the financial health of the organization and their position in relation to their key competitors.
- Number three, assess their core customers. In addition to simply studying the generalities of who the organization describes their customers to be, review customer facing platforms where customers have an opportunity to contribute their own content. Social media channels, review sites, Google My Business, and other online outlets can give you a sense of the strength of their relationship with those they serve by reviewing content that the customers themselves submitted.
- Number four, leverage existing internal intelligence. Lean into any data your organization has already collected on the prospective partner. Is there an executive serving on your board? Someone from your board who’s connected to their leadership team? Has your major gifts team been cultivating an executive donor? Did your events team have a small-scale sponsorship in the past that went cold? Context is really key here.
- Number five, determine decision makers and influencers. While there might be one ultimate decision maker in an organization that signs off on a sponsorship or gives the approval to commit to one, there are often up to six other influencers discussing a potential partnership and the allocation of those limited nonprofit sponsorship dollars. Get to know their names and the causes that matter most to them.
- Finally, number six, craft to the obvious and opportune. You have to make it make sense. Craft your sponsorship pitch to match obvious alignments or opportunities that are simply timely.
All-in-all, this is really a matchmaking venture. Consider the needs of both parties and determine what it would look like if each of you achieve a successful desirable outcome. When the connection is obvious, it is optimal.