There’s no better way to get fundraising sponsorship than by using the same sponsors you’ve used in the past. Here are some tips to get renewed interest in your event.
Assign Donor Levels
Not every sponsor is a “whale” or “big fish.” Some sponsors only donate a few hundred bucks. But, even those sponsors are valuable. Even so, you should categorize them and assign a “level” to all donors. For example, you’ll have “A-Listers” who donate the most and tend to be the least problematic in terms of demands made upon your organization.
Then, there are the “B-List” sponsors. These businesses tend to be more quiet and reserved. They’re giving you money, they don’t hassle you, and they tend to be consistent. They’re appreciative of the airtime you give them, and they’re reliable. At the same time, they’re not “A-Listers.”
Then there are the “C-List” businesses. These businesses sometimes need more babysitting and won’t always give you the most in terms of donations. They might also expect more out of your organization in return for the donation.
“D-List” donors are more like entry-level donors that you need to turn into “A-Listers.” They’re testing the waters with you, and you need to give them enough attention to convert them into “A-List” sponsors by next year.
Send The Letter
The first thing you should do is thank your donors for all of their contributions and hard work. They are responsible for your organization’s success, so they deserve it.
But, don’t think that these companies live to make your organization flush with cash. They don’t. They exist to run a business. So, you may have to get creative with how you approach them. Sure, if they’ve donated to your organization in the past, they’re more likely to donate in the future. At the same time, if you start taking them for granted, you’ll lose them.
That’s why it can be a good idea to send them lumpy mail, with a teaser inside. For example, mail them a deck of custom playing cards with your organization’s logo on the reverse side of the cards.
It’s a branding strategy that reintroduces you to them. If you drop cards into an envelop or small package and mail it, people wonder what’s inside. When they open it up, you can keep the letter lighthearted and suggestive to the effect that your next fundraiser will be fun and entertaining and you’d like them to consider it.
Follow Up With Sponsors
Once the initial letter is sent out (usually 6-8 months out), you want to follow up with them about about 4 months from the event. This is when you call to offer the VIP treatment for “A-List” donations – VIP seats, extra signage at the event, free food and drinks – something.
Ask for the “order.” Don’t be shy. This is the time to ask them if they would be willing to serve as a sponsor again this year at at least the same dollar amount level they did last year or whether they would like to upgrade.
So, for example, you might ask, “Would you like to serve at the $2,500 level again this year, or would you like to take advantage of some VIP gifts and upgrade to the $5,000 level?”
This strategy doesn’t always work but, when it does, it usually means substantially more money for your organization.
Bruce Webb occupies a senior role with a non-profit organization and has plenty of fundraising ideas and insights to share online. He has already written a number of different posts on this subject on a number of different websites.