IEG, an organization responsible for tracking the spending of corporate sponsors, projected that corporations would spend up to $24.2 billion and $65.8 billion in North America and worldwide in donations to non-profit organizations. This means there would be a 4.5 percent increase in North America’s spending and a 4.9 percent increase worldwide.

Numbers show that there is room for nonprofits to depend on the corporate sponsors even more. The difficult part is getting the sponsors to see that your nonprofit could be valuable to them as a business partner.

More experienced sponsorship partners know that business done with nonprofit organizations are business deals, not donations. They realize that the skills required to work with a corporate sponsor are quite different from the skills needed for everyday fundraising.

Why Do Companies Sponsor Charity Events?

Planning an approach to gain a corporate sponsorship is easy if you know what motivates them to get involved with charities in the first place. There is a large number of benefits for sponsors, but the most common are:

  • It attracts customers to their brand and keeps them interested
  • It differentiates their brand from other competing brands
  • It humanizes their brand which can change or strengthen its image
  • It increases visibility and awareness of their product or company
  • It attracts customers to specific products or to a particular retail store
  • It shows community responsibility and corporate social responsibility
  • It helps them stay involved with the community
  • It educates the public about the services and products the company offers and increases the company’s credibility
  • It persuades the public to try new products or a new service
  • It entertains important clients when they sponsor athletic or cultural events
  • It allows them to target specific customers
  • It helps to recruit, retain and motivate employees
  • It nurtures talent by teaching employees new skills
  • It attracts Corporate Interest

The author of “Made Possible By Succeeding With Sponsorship,” Patricia Martin, has written about the possibilities for charities to develop attitudes, skills, and insights to make it easier to work with corporate sponsors.

Martin, who specializes in matching business and nonprofits, says that nonprofit organizations need to show sincere interest in doing business with a corporate sponsor because they can see that such partnership would be beneficial for both organizations. They must also believe that the marketing investment offer they have for the sponsor is solid.

It isn’t enough to make corporations believe in your mission. Martin advises nonprofits to put prices on their proposals according to the promotional value they can offer. Sponsors need to see commercial opportunities in events, causes or organizations.A


A vital part of marketing that nonprofits often fail to think about is positioning. It needs to be taken into consideration how your own organization looks in comparison to similar organizations in the same area as you. What makes your nonprofit the best to host this event or to run this program? You don’t need to belittle your competition, but to help yourself come up with points when targeting a corporate sponsor and need compare yourself against it. You might be able to make your own unique proposal.

Also, it is important to look deeper into a corporation and at its employees. Is there anyone working for them who might be a natural ally for you? For instance, does a women’s group exist within the corporation? Do they emphasize on family values? Are these areas your forte? You should network with these people in this group and get them to recommend you.

A Reality Check

To decide if your nonprofit is actually ready for corporate sponsorship, go through this checklist:

  • Do you stay connected to your followers via email, social media, websites, newsletters, advertising, or events? Most large nonprofit organizations have all these things. However, you can compete with other local nonprofits if yours is small.
  • How well do you know your demographics? Who relates with your movement and why? Are they regulars, volunteers, donors? Where do they drive to you from? Are they teenagers, empty nesters, or young families?
  • Is this the first time you’ve had a corporate sponsor? Have corporate executives given you testimonials about how valuable your organization is? Do you feature those in press kits or other marketing materials?
  • What is your competition like? Do other nonprofits in your area get corporate sponsorship?
  • You should meet as many prospects as you can in person. Make a list of the companies that have their headquarters near you. What do these companies produce and who do they sell to? Is it possible that there would be any cross-promotions with existing sponsors?
  • Do you belong to civic organizations that would help you understand the business community and mix with it better?
  • Is your nonprofit enterprising? Do you encourage new ideas, are these ideas given thoughtful consideration? Have you hosted any other revenue-generating or commercial activities in the last five years?