How Not to Throw Your Money Away on Sponsorships

Small businesses are often approached by organisations for sponsorship.

Whether it’s the local footy club, a school or the CWA (Country Women’s Association), there’s no shortage of worthy causes that could use sponsorship and will ask you for money.

It’s really difficult and time consuming for small businesses to decide what they should or shouldn’t sponsor – and then getting the most out of their sponsorship.

Here are some basic guidelines for how not to throw your money away on sponsorships and how to identify partnerships that will actually support your business growth. We will refer to sponsorship as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities.

Why bother with CSR or sponsorship?

CSR initiatives through sponsorship, financial and in-kind support can encourage:
• Brand awareness
• Employee engagement
• Lead generation
• Reputation as a good corporate citizen
• Customer loyalty
• Differentiate yourself from your competitors
• Generate innovation and learning and enhance your influence
• Improve your business reputation and standing
• Provide access to investment and funding opportunities
• Generate positive publicity and media opportunities
• Enhanced relationships with customers, suppliers and networks
• Tax benefits.

CSR guiding principles

Generally speaking smalls businesses should sponsor initiatives and events that support the following principles:

Target market reach – will it reach a significant proportion of your ideal customers, influencers and/or stakeholders?

Cultural fit – does the organisation have similar values and fit nicely with your culture?

AND/OR

Community – is it relevant to your target region and community and does it give back to the community?


Assessing a CSR initiative

When considering sponsorship, consider these questions:
• Does it align with your business’s goals and strategic priorities?
• Does it make sense to your business?
• Does it support your values?
• By being a sponsor are you likely to reach more of your ideal customer, key influencers and stakeholders?
• Do you have enough information about the organisation/event/proposal? Timeframes? Cost? Benefits? Risks?
• How will you be acknowledged?
• How does it contribute to your marketing goals?
• How will you measure its success?
• How could you leverage it?
• Who else is sponsoring?
• Who will be managing it and assessing it before, during and after? Will you need additional resources to manage your role in the sponsorship?

You should always seek in return for your involvement:
• Branding opportunities
• Speaking opportunities
• Opportunities to provide and/or personally give out collateral and promotional items
• Social media promotion
Opportunity for your employees to be involved – perhaps volunteer for the event or program
• Access to or an opportunity to provide special offer information to the sponsor recipient’s database.

You may like to nominate a charity of choice for the year and then allocate a budget for remaining community based requests you may receive the remainder of the year.

You can also develop a checklist or guidelines based on the above that can be made available on your website for people seeking sponsorship. Having a set template and publicising the guidelines may reduce the number of inappropriate submissions.

At the end of the day, CSR is important but it should be a win-win for the business as well as the organisation sponsored.

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