Corporate Sponsorship: Prepare to Succeed – Guest blog from Layla Moosavi

layla_moosaviAs fundraisers we all undoubtedly get giddy when we finally secure a meeting with a funder; especially if it’s a company. As we all know getting through the door of a corporate can be very hard work and managing to successfully set up a meeting with a decision maker is an art in itself!

However, as fundraisers we can also at times get overexcited and therefore overload the funder with too much information too soon; some of which may not be relevant to the their specific marketing and sponsorship needs.

Having said that, it understandable why we do… it’s because we have that golden opportunity and we want to show them everything we can do.

This is where we need to: STOP, BREATHE and take a step back.

Preparing the ground

It may have taken us a long time to set this meeting up but if we get it right in the early stages, it can and will most likely lead to another meeting.
Yes we do need to know about our organisation and projects inside out and also have a pretty good idea of our own pricing strategy (which incidentally we preferably avoid discussing in the first meeting!)

But rather than making a generic presentation about our organisation, what we do and what we think they might want, isn’t it best to find out from the horse’s mouth what they are actually looking for?

For example when I approached a well known quality retail brand to sponsor a major architecture exhibition, it would have been so easy to assume that the Swiss origin of both the brand and the architect would be the main synergy. However, through meeting them and really understanding their objectives, it was clear that their main marketing objective in the UK was to promote a brand of bags for men of a particular age group and demographic which matched the audience base of the exhibition. Therefore, they were able to target their chosen market  in a niche and non-cluttered environment, as well as promote exclusive offers to our members .This then enabled me to come back with a tailored pitch and an opportunity for both parties to negotiate more effectively.

To gain a better understanding of our corporate prospect it is important to carry out effective preparation techniques for our first meeting. Understanding our corporate prospect and their objectives at the early stages is a key factor in taking the relationship to the next level and leading to a successful partnership.

We need to do as much research about the company as possible but also think outside the box and put a corporate hat on. What would you want to know if you were the funder? Play devils advocate and challenge yourself with a set of questions and see if you can answer them yourself…. comfortably!

Finding common ground

Know what you can or can’t do and where you will need to draw the line. But use the opportunity to ask the key questions and try to pin down as much as you can their objectives in relation to a partnership with you.

What can you give them that would work for both parties? Why would they want to support you? What are their motivations? What do you have to offer them? Will this partnership be of value to both parties? The list is endless and you chose what you specifically need to find out and how to conduct the meeting in the most appropriate fashion.

By asking the right questions the meeting can then naturally progress and take you to a direction you may have wanted or to a direction you had not yet thought of. Based on the outcome of that meeting you can then further tailor your pitch and create a unique bespoke partnership which may even lead to a long tern relationship.

I always say fundraisers are jack of all trades, the brokers between the organisation and the funder and tend to have good judgement; so with that in mind we are already a step in the right direction.

About the author

Layla Moosavi has 16 years fundraising experience in the charitable sector and the arts; specialising in corporate fundraising and sponsorship. Layla’s expertise lies in both securing new business as well account management.

The breadth of sectors Layla has worked with have been extensive; ranging from financial, insurance and legal to retail, beverages, tourism and architecture. Clients have included JP Morgan, Accenture, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, Bloomberg, Barclays, HSBC Insurance, AirFrance-KLM, Bally and Pizza Express.

Organisations she has worked for have included: Barbican, Kids, Trinity Hospice, Addaction, British Deaf Association, Action Planning and Parenting UK (now part of Family Lives). As well as freelancing as a fundraising trainer, mentor and consultant, Layla also works part time in the training and development team at the Women’s Resource Centre.

Contact details: laylam11@hotmail.com

Layla has also started a How To on the Knowhow Nonprofit site on How to prepare for corporate sponsorship.

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