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How to Find Sponsorship: Targetting is Key!

When searching for sponsorship for your next fundraising event, you of course want to reach as many potential sponsors as you can.  The more potential sponsors you approach, the more “yes” responses you are likely to get.  For most fundraising groups, and especially for small ones, the very logistics of trying to reach all possible sponsors is simply impossible.  Most fundraisers can only contact a limited number of people, so the best approach is to only contact the people that are most likely to support your cause.

But how do you choose who to contact to request sponsorship? Think about what you are fundraising for, and contact companies aligned with your cause rather than any business with a shop in your local area.

The advantages of this strategy are:

1. The people who are asked are more likely to say “yes.” The sponsors that were appealed to already have some built-in reason for saying yes to supporting your cause.  Less convincing is needed and less of a chance of a “no” helps to keep volunteer morale high.  Plus, sponsors who have a built-in reason to support your cause are more likely to donate again (presumably, their reasons for donating will still be there).

2. By targeting sponsors, you build your organisational structure. Create a plan of who to contact, and how to appeal to them.  There is less risk of overlooking an important sponsor, or asking the same people twice.

3. Time saving. Rather than spending lots of time approaching as many people as possible, take the time to research for free on the internet and then appeal directly to groups and people that may be interested. 

What if you're not quite clear on who your target market might be? For example,who in your community would support an animal shelter or a literacy project? 

 There are a few basic ways to do some research.  The first step is to research groups similar to yours in your area and in other areas.  Who supports them?  The same groups of people may support your group.  If your cause has volunteers, you can find out what sort of people your cause appeals to by asking your volunteers a few questions:

  • Where did you hear about our group?
  • What shows do you watch? What do you read? 
  • What causes do you follow in the news or on social media?
  • Where do you go for entertainment? What other groups do you belong to?
  • What appealed to you about volunteering for us?

Even in a small group, you will hear similar responses.  These answers are important clues about what your potential sponsors are watching, where they are going, and what appeals to them. You can further establish your target donors by considering where people who believe in a cause or idea would go or what they would see. 

Here's a list of examples 

  • Pet shelters are likely to be supported by people who like animals. If they like animals, they may read about them, own them, or visit them.  Advertising in pet journals, at pet kennels or grooming centres, appealing to owners outside of pet stores or zoos are likely places to find target donors or at least people who love animals enough to contribute some money to a cause that concerns them.
  •  Arts groups are likely to be supported by people who like the arts. Where are these people found?  At universities, art galleries, theatres, art groups, book clubs, libraries, cafes that hold poetry readings, arts publications, bookstores, art stores, art classes, and other like places. 
  • Not-for-profits that have to do with children are likely to appeal to families. Where are these people found?  Parks, schools, P&C meetings, churches, playgrounds, fairs, toy stores, the zoo, parenting publications, and other like places.
  • Not-for-profits that have to do with community development may seem to be a varied bunch. Both those who are worried about issues such as poverty or housing regulations would tend to congregate around town hall meetings, community kitchens, or other like places, depending on their individual concerns.
  •  Not-for-profits that have to do with the environment attract people who are worried about the state of our planet and resources. Where are such people to be found?  At natural health food stores, environmental protests, town hall meetings that have to do with preserving parks, environmental stores, and “green” publications.  
  • Not-for-profits that have to do with education attract people who are worried about education and literacy. These people are to be found at literacy centres, the library, schools, P&C meetings, and other like areas.  If your education mandate has to do with children, then your target donors can be found in similar places as the target donors for not-for-profits that have to do with children.

You can probably see a pattern here. People who are concerned about an issue are likely to express their concern by spending time at specific places and time attending specific events or reading specific publications.  People who are interested in a specific issue often like specific related things.  If you want to target your audience of sponsors, you should be asking yourself where potential suupporters can be found and then target your fundraising to some of these areas. 

All the best for your next sponsorship campaign!