Hello SOTGC community,
Pursuing corporate sponsorships can be a little nerve-wracking. Many entrepreneurs and nonprofits don’t know where to start, if they know funding is available to them at all. Maybe you’ve done a little research. You know you need to submit a proposal but haven’t done it yet because you’re worried that it will be overlooked or lost in the shuffle. These are valid concerns. The very ones I want to help you address.
Corporations are actively seeking nonprofits and entrepreneurs to partner with. They want to prove that they are engaged in corporate social responsibility (CSR) and to make it known that their organization cares about more than just the bottom line. These corporations are very aware that it is more effective and efficient to partner with someone who is already on the ground, doing the work, than to invest in building something that is not their area of expertise.
This is a huge a benefit to you. Corporations believe in what entrepreneurs and the nonprofit sector are doing, both in their communities and globally. They want to get behind it and support these endeavors. All they need to see is someone who has both the passion and the plan in place. If you can show them that you are a good investment, your dream organization can become a reality.
If you are one of these passion-istas, the first thing you need, as always, is a plan. You can’t get to the Grand Canyon by jumping in your car and driving off. Goals need to have direction or they will languish. I have written before about leaving a trail of breadcrumbs. Once you’ve determined exactly what it is you want to accomplish, the breadcrumbs are a list of action steps that will help you get noticed by future sponsors. You have to stand out from the crowd in order to attract funding. When it comes to your organization, hoping good things come your way simply isn’t enough.
Here are a few ideas to get you started on a personal level. The future and the culture of your dream organization depend on your actions and integrity now.
- Your passion needs to be obvious. Like-minded people are more likely to support causes where they see excitement. You have passion or you wouldn’t be reading this. Passion is an excellent start, but most people don’t know where to go from here. Read up. Become an expert. As Mark Cuban says, “Know your business and industry better than anyone else in the world.” If you are not an expert yet, don’t worry. You’re in the right place.
- Build your network. Effecting change cannot happen in a vacuum. The Internet has revolutionized the way we can connect, learn and grow. Take advantage of this and begin to connect with others – in real life and online – who are passionate about the same causes you are.
- Be an influencer. This is far easier said than done. Engage with your community and networks to show them you care. This is not an area where you can fake it and hope people don’t notice; transparency and sincerity are required.
- Set the example. You want people to volunteer? You want people to collect donations? You want people to give? Potential supporters want to know that your words and your actions are in sync. This builds trust. Don’t be a show off. Do support people’s causes. Turn a volunteer into a donor. They and their followers will be much more likely to return the favor.
If we are not challenged, we will not grow. Challenge yourself in these four simple areas. The funding you need is already being set aside. You just have to get the attention of your corporate sponsors.
Fell, J. (2012). “Mark Cuban: What entrepreneurs need to know before starting a business.” http://www.entrepreneur.com/blog/225357
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With more than 25 years of nonprofit management experience, Connie Pheiff has raised approximately $200 million for national social service organizations and business associations. Connie is one of the most sought after volunteer experience experts in the public sector. She has worked with powerhouse organizations like the United States Chamber of Commerce, Girl Scouts of the USA, United Way, Salvation Army, and over 300 state and local public organizations. They know the value of her message, and have entrusted her with the training of their staff … so should you!