Friday, December 23, 2011 11:00 AM
Schools, charities and NGO’s are always hungry. They just never seem to be able to get sufficient funds for the projects they want to undertake. So they turn to the private sector in an attempt to raise funds via donations and sponsorships for various projects like golf days, sports days or other fundraising events. The result is what can seem like a never ending steam of phone calls asking for your support. Sometimes the request is for a monetary contribution, other times it is for sponsorships of golf holes, bicycle riders and so on. In return, they promise you exposure in the media and to the other sponsors and they allow you to put up banners etc.
In this article I will not discuss the ethics behind charity donations and whether you should or should not support these events. I will focus purely on the marketing opportunities available.
In a perfect world we would all be able and willing to support every single request that comes our way. But in our modern dog-eat-dog world it is not possible to do so if you want to make a profit and actually survive in business.
If you develop a marketing strategy that is focused on the marketing advantage presented by these charity events, you may actually be able to get some results.
It may seem cold hearted to talk about getting profits from other people’s charity work, which in return is in response to other people’s misfortune and adverse circumstances. However, if you are able to develop a marketing system that seeks to get material benefit from participating in every single charity request that comes your way, you would be able to develop sufficient funds to keep supporting. This way it becomes a very attractive win-win situation.
So how can you do this?
Here are some ideas on how to get real business benefit from sponsorship requests:
Don’t just make the requested donation. Make sure you are actually participating in the event or in the fundraising activity. While you are busy you have a wonderful opportunity to network with other volunteers and sponsors. Don’t leave this networking opportunity to chance. Go into the project prepared.
Participating in a charity event is a great opportunity to inform the community of what you are doing and thus position your company as truly caring for the community. However, it is also a wonderful opportunity to contact your existing clients and prospects for a different purpose than asking for business. Make sure that the event organisers also give your contribution exposure in both internal and external media as well as to their circle of contacts.
Use social media such as Facebook, blogs, discussion forums etc. to keep people informed of your involvement.
This is a tricky one, but it is where you can get true value from your investment: inform the organisers that in return for your contribution you would like an opportunity to communicate to everyone else who was involved after the event. This way you get to add some names to your prospect database. Just imagine if your R5000 sponsorship of hole 12 on the golf course could buy you the contact details of the 100 golfers taking part in the tournament. You then have an opportunity to make them aware of your contribution to the event and start building a relationship that could eventually lead to business.
Add on opportunities
Most charity organisers will allow you to display your marketing banners at the event and promise you media coverage. But just consider this: How focused is a golfer at hole 12 on your teardrop banner vs. how focused he is on not making a fool of himself in front of his peers? Do you really think that he even notices your banner, let alone makes a note of it and actually calls you on Monday to give you business? That is just not going to happen.
And as for media coverage; a brief mention of your company name in a small paragraph together with 28 other company names isn’t exactly a marketing advantage worth considering.
So approach the organisers and ask about additional opportunities to advertise and market your business, such as a competition or a series of relevant communications straight to your target market in building up to the event.
Another idea is to sponsor all printing prior to the event with the condition that you manage the project yourself. This way you will have to contact the other sponsors to discuss how they would like their companies advertised on the banners, flyers etc. What a wonderful opportunity to network and make some new friends.
There certainly are many ways that making a donation or sponsoring an event can be good for your business. But it requires that you think very carefully about how to get the necessary value, and that you go into the project with a specific plan. The organisers will highlight a number of benefits to get your money, but their main concern is to raise money for their cause – not necessarily to ensure that you get a fair exchange. So think carefully before agreeing to the sponsorship, and make sure that you will get sufficient results that will enable you to get involved next year’s event…
Copyright ©2011 Peter Bolgann
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