When it comes to fund raising, business sponsors can be a far better source of funds than private contributors. Despite this, many people are intimidated by the prospect of hitting up businesses for charitable donations. In truth they're not that difficult to get, provided you know whom to talk to and what questions to ask. The real trick to getting business sponsors is to apply the same systematic approach to acquiring them that you would to any other source of revenue.
Select a fund-raising event. Soliciting donations for a specific charity sometimes works, but asking for donations for X amount for an event on Y date adds urgency and a call to action to your request. This can be funding to help put on an event, or a specific date you plan to raise funds, such as a fund drive or charity athletic event.
Compose a letter about what you're raising funds for, when you'll be raising them and how. Include in this letter what the fund-raising goal is for the event.
Make a list of every business with which you have a personal contact. This includes where you work, everywhere your friends and family work, every business where you're a regular patron or have a business-vendor relationship. Use your insider information to get the name and contact information for whoever makes charity contribution decisions.
Make a list of every local business that might be related to your business or cause. If you're participating in a fun run for a local family homeless shelter, you might contact fitness industry shops, local gyms, day cares and family-oriented restaurants. Do whatever research you need to--including phone calls--to make get the name and contact information for whoever makes charity contribution decisions.
Add to the form letter you've already composed, customizing each for the business you will send it to. Add the name of the business and the name of the decision-maker. Include at least two sentences about how participating in your event can benefit that particular business.
Call the point of contact for each of your businesses. Tell them about yourself and your project and ask permission to send an email with further information. You may want to write a script for this, as your initial contacts will be the most important factor in securing sponsorships.
Send your email to all who granted permission a word-for-word copy of the letter you composed. Include in the email that you will send a "snail mail" letter copy as well. Mail the snail mail letter the same day you send the email.
Call to follow up during the same business week you sent the email. For this reason, it's best to send the email on Monday or Tuesday. If the decision-maker asks for more time to consider, commit to calling back at a specific day and time, rather than leaving it up to her to return your call.
Keep plugging and don't give up. You will receive many more no's than yes's. If there's a secret to successful fund raising, it's to ask a lot of people for money.
Though this article is from the perspective of charity fund raising, you can apply the same basic principles to seeking professional sponsorships or advertising clients.
- Tom Callos, Founder, New Way Network