A few years ago, Cause Marketing was all the rage.  Nonprofits – small and large – were scurrying to create “meaningful” corporate partnerships NOT sponsorships.  Some did it well (Pink Ribbon anyone??) while others struggled.

No one disagrees that proving a company’s Social Responsiblity is very important to consumers.  In fact, in a 2011 report, consumers spoke very loudly that they expect companies to drive social and environmental change and that they will reward these efforts.

Then why is it so hard to attract corporate dollars?

In a recent review of 50 upcoming fundraising events, we found the same sponsorship message in every single organization.  Give us this much $ and we will put your logo on this, and this, and this, and this…. There are even people you can pay to write them.

Does this look familiar?  Guess what?  They don’t work.

In the days of the cause marketing craze, Corporations had more money to give. The Giving USA 2012 report shows us that corporate giving has gone down or been flat for the past two years.  Yet including corporate donors in your fundraising mix is a critical strategy.

So hum?  What to do?

I challenge you to break the mold.  Begin to think like a corporate entity – understanding investment and return, consumer demographics and buying patterns.  Then translate that information into proposals that will generate meetings and open doors to negotiations.

Step 1 – Evaluate Your Assets

When you put together the standard corporate sponsorship proposal, you begin by listing your website, newsletter – just like our example.   Don’t forget to include social media – Facebook friends, Twitter followers.

Blackbaud published a revolutionary report on Social Sharing that encouraged you to identify and empower your supporters in new way by categorizing your social media users within your database.   Using a service like Profile Builder can use public information to help you create this segmentation of your donors.

Once you have identified the number of donors you have in each of the four categories, you add them to your list of assets.

Once you are done, it may look something like this –

Determining Assets


Touch point  # Monthly (if applicable
Media (event and beyond) details and number
Website (Homepage and program pages) # of visitors per month
Events # of attendees
Email lists # of receipents
# of influencers from Social Score
# of engagers from Social Score
# in total database with active email unduplicated
Newsletters # on mailing lists
Facebook Friends # of followers, friends
Twitter followers


Step 2 – Assign a Dollar Value

To put together the right proposal, you need to be able to put a value on each one of these assets.  The value of each benefit will vary based on your market.

Your local American Marketing Association or your local ad council can provide some help.  In this example, we are using information from San Diego County, considered medium market by ad agency standards.


Quantifying Partnership Value
Partner Benefit Description Reach Value 
Website Partner will have logo placed on home page which will include a link to partner home page 50,000 unique visitors (value:  $18.30/1000)  $9,150
Event attendees banner 5622 x 2.5 followers per attendee ($15.68/1000)  $219
Reaching influencers Each influencer will receive a personalized offer 195 influencers based on social score (value:  195 x $56 – average monthly donation)  $10,920
Email blast to subscribers All email subscribers will receive two emails highlighting the partnership 10500 subscribers (value: $69.79/1000)  $698
Social Media Facebook logo 10,000 followers/friends (value:  $15.10/1000  $152
Total Reach 75,817  $21,061

Your goal is a 3:1 ratio or pretty close.  These benefits would be perfect for a Platinum sponsorship at $7500.  This less than $10 per 1000 – the equivalent of buying an ad on a local television station.   (TV Advertising Costs)

There is new data emerging on how to quantify your social media reach.  The goal here is not to be perfect – BE DIFFERENT.

Step 3 – Match Your Levels

Now let’s go back to that traditional proposal.  Look at your levels, match up the assets, and put your proposal together using this format with an explanation of the reach and how you quantified.

Then match to the right companies and get to work.



Debbi Stanley is manager of the Blackbaud client success team. As certified fundraising executive, Debbi has raised more than $15 million for nonprofit agencies and is a recognized expert in strategic, succession and resource development planning. During her nonprofit career, she served in many positions including development director for health and human services agencies and she was a successful consultant teaching nonprofits approaches to organizational development that properly leverage resources for project sustainability. Her expertise in situational leadership and her knowledge of funding strategies has helped hundreds of nonprofits do more for their communities. An avid fan, Debbi is blessed to have two sons who are great athletes at both forms of football – the American and the International version.

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