Throughout the pandemic, many non-profits and associations have faced challenges staying afloat. While running a non-profit organization, one of the most challenging tasks is collecting funds. Most of the time funds come from philanthropic activities, donors’ support, and event sponsors. Although there are many financing models to drive money from, some non-profits and associations are not very “flexible” and inadvertently limit their options. To make situations all the more challenging, certain organizations also believe that “seeking charity” and asking for money is not attractive. Such non-profits, and others, can proactively engage in organizing events and harness event technology not only to gain recognition but also capitalize on innovative ways of finding sponsorships. Since virtual events are in vogue these days, virtual events sponsorship can be an excellent way to generate funds, but that certainly requires some strategic thinking. 

Exhibitors and sponsors will not simply be willing to invest in a non-profit or association with an intent of charity unless they see a real return on value. They often see this value in the form of clicks, engagement, interactions, conversations, reach, and visibility. With the right strategy, associations and non-profits can demonstrate the value they can deliver to their business partners and related stakeholders.   

In this blog, we will share some tips to attract virtual events sponsorship that could help monetize online events and boost memberships.   

What is an event sponsor?  

If you are looking for corporate sponsors but not sure where to begin, let’s start with the basic definition.   

Sponsorships are in-kind or financial support activities where businesses sponsor events, charities, NGOs, tradeshows, or support groups to achieve a specific business goal. A sponsor provides money, goods, and services to any organization, in exchange for leads, publicity, goodwill, and visibility among their targeted consumers. When it comes to promoting non-profits, corporate event sponsors often get positive publicity which boosts their reputation which, in turn, helps in expanding the audience base of the company.   

How to get sponsors for your non-profit event? 

Here are 5 tips that could help a non-profit or association attract virtual events sponsorship.   

      1. Host smaller events that are frequent all throughout the year 

When memberships start declining, it indicates that non-profits and associations are missing out on potential opportunities to connect with their targeted audience base. In the post-pandemic era, the return of fully in-person events with yearlong meet-ups is still doubtful and therefore it is wise to structure and lay out year-long virtual and hybrid communication and engagement activities.  

Organizing a series of creative & engaging events throughout the year with a variety of content and engagement opportunities can attract attendees and offer inherent sponsorship opportunities to sponsors and exhibitors.  

Examples: 

  1. Educational events - A quarterly, bi-annual training or certification program for education purposes always prove to be beneficial for members. A series of such events can also be organized based on the type of educational or training program most popular among the target audience.
  2. Team building/networking activities: Hosting casual breakout sessions, such as virtual happy hours, within the organization can also be engaging as these are the new digital watercooler events. Here, the attendees get a chance to interact across multiple teams. Exhibitors or sponsors can also be a part of such an event where they get to promote specific products or services. 
  3. Membership-driven events: These events have a clear strategic objective of getting yourself out in front of as many prospective leads and members as possible. These events can be organized in a hybrid, virtual, or purely in-person format. Such events are organized to encourage the members to retain their memberships.  

      2. Reach out to local businesses  

Local businesses are always looking to showcase their names, goods, and services in the market. Additionally, they work super hard to build their brand identity and establish a positive image in the community. And so, enlisting local businesses as your sponsors for your non-profit and associations can provide them with a great PR opportunity, turning out to be a win-win situation for both the parties. Let them clearly know what is in it for them and what will they be getting in return, like publicity in the form of their logo displayed on promotional materials or their banner prominent at your event etc.  

      3. Reach out to organizations that mirror your vision and values  

The best corporates to reach out to are those whose mission and values align with the values of your non-profit or association. For example, a local animal welfare society might have a pet supply store as its sponsor. A food park may have a local grocery store as its sponsor. If you are an NGO, focused on environment-related causes, you can approach businesses that incorporate sustainable practices such as zero waste. You can also thoroughly scrutinize the list of companies that can be your potential donors and sponsors and explore if any of their immediate family member, friend, or connection is looking for sponsorship opportunities. “Natural connections”, sometimes, provide the best partnership avenues.    

       4. Consider businesses that have sponsored NGOs or associations in the past 

Reaching out to businesses that have previously sponsored NGOs or are openly interested in sponsoring one is also a great idea. You can get creative with the value you’d provide to your sponsors to help them increase their reach and visibility by 

  • Creating a dedicated sponsor page featuring logos, a short description of what they do, and a link to their website (or even social media handles).  
  • Featuring messages from sponsors for the audience and the values they stand by in emails, other messaging channels, and social media platforms speaking about the event.   
  • Creating a sponsor teaser video for popular social media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter, linking them to the sponsor website.   
  • Thoroughly analyzing all your media channels and conversations to find out how can you capitalize more on each of them in the best possible way.   

       5. Get creative with your ask 

Most of the sponsor outreach activities are centered around emails and messages whereas in-person meet-ups are very rare (just in cases where you personally approach local sponsors for higher impact). Therefore, it’s important to customize your messaging to suit different sponsors you are reaching out to.  

  1. Describe what your NGO or association does and where your sponsor can fit into what you deliver.   
  2. Elaborately describe your audience base, their demographics, where they come from, and how this can be a perfect opportunity for the sponsors to capitalize on. Show them the overlapping benefits of both the parties involved. 
  3. Tell your story. Create a narrative around where it all began, how this organization came into being, and what was the idea behind it. Also emphasize what impact and impression has it created on the society to build credibility and trust. People love stories, especially the inspirational ones.   

When a business shows interest in becoming a sponsor for an NGO or association, they usually look to build a credible brand image and come out as an organization that has philanthropic values. They focus on building good-will that appeals to their current and potential customers. And, therefore, strategizing your sponsorship packages and proposals around this theme could significantly boost your chances of partnering with great organizations that can add real value to your events.