How to manage a donation or sponsorship

How to manage a donation or sponsorship

Many businesses donate money, products or services to non-profits, or ask their staff members to volunteer at local charity events. If your company is like most, you don’t have the money to help every worthy organization that makes a request. When choosing which charitable partnerships to develop, it’s a good idea to sign up with organizations or events that provide you with some public relations benefit.

Savvy office managers maximize the benefit of cause-marketing partnerships and maximize the impressions received from a sponsorship (how many people will see or hear about you). If you’re tasked with managing a company donation or sponsorship, use the following strategies to maximize your exposure beyond what the organization or event offers.

Evaluate your non-profit partners

Many non-profit organizations or local charity events aren’t run by sponsorship experts and might not think to offer all of the benefits you might be able to get. Ask your new partners about specific benefits to see what they’ll offer. Before your conversation, talk to your staff about what your company can do to maximize the amount of exposure you get from the charity event, donation or sponsorship.

If you’re just donating a small amount of product (such as to a silent auction), you won’t be able to ask for much in the way of publicity, but you should still try to maximize your exposure at the event, such as putting brochures on the table where your product will be displayed.

Look into the following benefits associated with local events or non-profit organizations:

  1. Website cross-linking

    Ask if your non-profit partner will put a link to your website on theirs. Tell them you will promote them by doing the same. On your website, year round, let your customers know that you work with one or more charities and link to the organization’s website or the event page.

  2. Handouts at events you sponsor

    Ask your non-profit partner about opportunities to place your brochures or flyers at events. This could include putting your company materials in welcome bags, on registration tables or other places.

  3. Logos on T-shirts

    If the organization or event has T-shirts, ask about getting your name and logo on one of the sleeves, a breast pocket or on the back. You might need to pay a small screen-printing fee per shirt for this.

  4. Free tickets to the events you sponsor

    If you are sponsoring a concert, play, banquet, golf tournament, 5K run or other event, ask for a few free tickets, passes or registrations. Give them to your key employees who might be able to develop professional relationships with potential customers, such as other sponsors or members of the non-profit organization’s board of directors. Have your company’s attendees look to make contact with members of the press who are in attendance to let them know about your partnership with the non-profit.

  5. Signage at events you sponsor

    Find out where your target customers will congregate at events you sponsor so you can place placards on easels, posters on walls or other signage that people will see. Events might include annual banquets, 5K runs, golf tournaments, school plays, church bazaars, animal shelter adoption days or health fairs.

  6. On-site product displays or booths

    Depending on what you make or sell, look for opportunities to showcase your product or service at events you sponsor. You might include free samples or coupons in welcome bags, hand them out at a booth or let people test your product. You can hold a raffle for one of your products or services with the proceeds going to the charity. For example, charity road races often feature free massages from local spas. Sports drinks companies often donate drinks at sporting events in exchange for a sponsorship. This is known as an in-kind sponsorship because it involves no cash payment from the sponsor and allows the sponsor to conduct product sampling. A restaurant sponsor might set up a free snack or hors d’ouvre station.

  7. Getting key employees into photos

    Ask if you can get your company owner, president or other key manager in photographs, shaking hands with the charity’s president, handing out awards to winners of the event or meeting with benefactors of the charity (such as youth sports participants, or adult sports competitors). Send pictures to local media outlets, post them on your website and send email blasts to customers and clients. Include them in your social media posts.

  8. Offer the non-profit organization’s members a discount

    If your non-profit partner has a membership base, offer their members a discount on your products or services when they use a special coupon. This will help you track how your sponsorship is working.

  9. Making a donation based on sales

    Let the members of a non-profit organization your company is sponsoring know that your company will make a donation for each purchase they make from your business. For example, a dentist’s office or local IT service company could partner with a local school, offering a donation to the school based on the amount of spending by the school’s supporters. The school’s supporters must mention the promotion and donation when they come in to the place of business. With other sponsorships, a company makes a donation for each item sold, no matter who makes the purchase. You might be asked to guarantee a minimum donation by the non-profit, and you can limit the amount of the donation. Your promotion materials might read, “We’ll donate $1 to the Anytown Animal Rescue for every purchase made through September 30th.*” The asterisk might then state, “Up to $5,000 in donations.” Create an easy to remember code or a downloadable coupon.

Manage your own public relations

Don’t rely on your partners to properly promote you—they won’t be as interested in maximizing your PR as you will be. Send out your own press releases before and after the event or throughout an ongoing sponsorship.


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