Gaining sponsors is like dating

Associations need financial resources to fulfill their purpose and mission. Based on experience, membership dues alone are not enough to sustain this mandate. Non-dues revenues help augment this shortfall, and sponsorship generation and retention is one of them.

With this as premise, the Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives (Pcaae) recently organized a webinar on “How to Find and Approach Potential Sponsors amid the Pandemic.” Our featured speaker, Julian Moore, is Australasia’s foremost non-profit sponsorship practitioner.

Following are the key takeaways I got from Julian’s insightful and practical presentation:

Attraction—Gaining sponsors is like dating. On the first date, know each other and make a good impression. On the second, you bring them a gift (your proposal). On the third, you clinch the deal. It’s all about relationships.

‘Selling’ sponsorship—The best person to do this is someone who knows your association very well. Don’t be a salesperson. Sponsorship is a partnership, not sales. Intelligence and knowledge win more sponsorship when combined with personality.

Establishing your marketplace—Your marketplace is within your membership: main suppliers, corporate entities, business and individuals, plus anyone else engaged in your association’s industry. Once you understand who they are, what they do, who they work with and why, then you understand your marketplace.

Identifying prospects—It is better to identify 10 amazing prospective sponsors who have a natural fit with your association than to use the “scattergun” approach and email blast 1,000 people. Expand your horizons. You can find them advertising in trade magazines, newspapers, TV advertising, list of the top 100 corporates, sponsoring other events in your marketplace.

Approaching prospects—This could be via email and direct marketing, by phone, or face-to-face. Because of the pandemic, the latter is not advisable. For email marketing, use only once you have a direct email address. Never send your tailored proposal through “info@” or “inquiries@” addresses. Always ask for a reply. The email should be personally addressed and tailored for the recipient (never bulk mail your target sponsor).

If by phone, you only have one chance to engage. Do not dump information. The goal of the initial call is just to get a meeting. You will never win a major sponsor on one phone call. Smile while you are on the phone; people will hear it at the other end.

Making the pitch—They have read your proposal and now they want to meet you (you’ll never win a major sponsorship without a meeting). Know who you are meeting with. Do not inflict ‘death by PowerPoint’. Be able to make a decision if required. Remain confident; you know you can deliver value.

Closing the deal—This is the easiest part of the process. Your sponsor has spoken with you, read your tailored proposal, met with you face-to-face, your organizations are a natural fit, the package delivers everything they require; all you have to do now is ask.

Retaining the sponsor (the forgotten story)—You’ve worked so hard to recruit a new sponsor. Once you have their money, don’t forget they exist. It is now that the work to retain them begins.

The column contributor, Octavio “Bobby” Peralta, is concurrently the secretary-general of the Association of Development Financing Institutions in Asia and the Pacific and the Founder & CEO of the Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives. PCAAE is holding the Associations Summit 8 on November 25 and 26, 2020 with the theme, “Leading with Agility.” The two-day virtual event is supported by Adfiap, the Tourism Promotions Board and the PICC. E-mail for more details on AS8.

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