In navigating through the challenged business environment over the last three years, all discretionary expenditures, large and small, had to be carefully considered and weighed in terms of return on investment. Not coincidentally, discretionary corporate giving has decreased during the recession.
Fundraisers like the Sonoma County Backroad Challenge, conversely, rely heavily on corporate donations and sponsorship in order to cover fixed costs and assure positive fundraising results. Many companies realize, however, that corporate donations and corporate sponsorship are not synonymous. Donations are a one-way street – i.e. giving with no expectation of receiving anything in return. Corporate sponsorship, however, is quite different. Some corporations recognize that sponsorship is purely and simply a business deal: the sponsorship dollars are expected to yield a return of some sort.
When deciding to sponsor a charitable event, the question “what’s in it for us?” is, and should be, the first consideration. Asking the following questions will determine whether or not there is indeed something of value to be returned in exchange for the price of sponsorship being requested:
- Is the demographic at the event congruent with our target market?
- Will involvement lead to greater exposure, market share, sales, etc.?
- Does sponsorship tie in with the corporation’s PR campaign?
- Will it open doors for new business relationships?
- Will it help build loyal customers who see this as community outreach?
- Is this carefully selected corporate sponsorship tantamount to inexpensive advertising?
- Is this event a “one-off” or is it held annually, allowing for lasting relationships and goodwill building?
Prospective sponsors will be more willing to participate in the fundraiser if they see clear value. For instance, sponsors usually get their corporate logo placed in the fundraiser’s brochures, website, newsletters, etc. This is not giving – it is marketing dollars hard at work. In fact IEG (operator of Sponsorship.com) asserts that corporate sponsorship is the world’s fastest growing form of marketing. They project that corporations will spend almost $25 billion this year sponsoring the arts, sporting events, music, humanitarian causes etc.
A prospective sponsor seeks PR opportunities to improve their corporate image and/or bring greater awareness of their brand/products to the market place. Corporate donations and corporate sponsorship are therefore very different. The former is charity; the latter is a business exchange of values.
The Sonoma County Backroad Challenge is a fundraiser seeking long-term relationships with corporate sponsors. We hope that progressive, responsible corporations that are focused on the health-conscious demographic will consider using part of their marketing budget to support our event not only because they are feeling philanthropic, but because they are feeling fiscally prudent.
Are you or your company interested in sponsoring our event? We would love to partner with you! Please email Shane at email@example.com. Thanks.