Fundraising, Partnerships, Income Generation – some thoughts
As a sponsorship and fundraising agency the primary focus for our clients is generating income, from philanthropic, grant funding, to sponsorship, brand partnerships, licensing, experiential activity, pop up retail, individual giving etc and for us the premise is essentially the same. Creating a clear proposition, a deliverable strategy and then implementing it…
Each area has different skill sets and needs and experience but fundamentally it’s about creating a compelling proposition that either delivers business return or achieves an objective. From selling product to shifting brand proposition, creating awareness or implementing a peacebuilding programme, developing youth skills, helping people in need …from an income generation point of view the proposition is key; Clarity of thought and a persuasive argument.
There are many gold, silver and bronze sponsorship proposals still being generated by organisations, this is not in our experience a particularly useful start point for companies. If you are looking for long term strategic partnerships that deliver mutual benefit then a list of ‘assets’ ; logo placement, tickets, online presence, newsletter inclusion etc with different pricing levels is less engaging than an overview with creative bespoke ideas and thoughts.
Getting the proposition right and having clarity about how partners, sponsors or donors might get involved and what you might deliver of real benefit for them is key. It is important to state what the project/programme/event is, why it is important and relevant for the partner, where it takes place, when it takes place, who benefits or takes part and what is the impact. It is also important to get stakeholders to be involved in the process and to share the overview internally before taking it externally. Is the proposition tied into the overall plan and ambition of the organisation.
Once the proposition is developed and clear, it can always flex and update but a straightforward overview to start with is necessary. It is then key to ensure there is a team in place to take the proposition to market and develop proposals for specific partners, sponsors or funders.
A commercial strategy should include developing a target list of potential companies or supporters, grant making organisations, researching who would be a good fit based on current or previous campaigns or programmes they have supported. Sometimes trade PR to promote the proposition, a social media campaign and networking is useful, maybe an announcement that the organisation is seeking partnerships, sponsors or needing funding for a specific project.
Getting the skills in place within a team to develop and sell the proposition is key. With research, a good, compelling proposition and enough effort in terms of approaches a campaign will be successful. It is important to keep reviewing the opportunity being offered based on feedback and to be flexible around pricing, amount being asked for. Look to work with other funders or reduce the assets or inventory, be flexible about other ways to work with a partner to unlock income and other value may be to drive cost reduction of a project. The physical cost of the project or programme is rarely equal to the value of a sponsorship.
So many salespeople or development teams waste energy and effort analysing what they should say, what a proposal should look like without actually making the number of approaches needed to be successful. Unless there is sales activity it is unlikely a project will be funded.
In essence to generate income prove and clearly state the value and ROI. For a charitable donation demonstrate how many lives will be improved, how will the cause deliver a benefit, what is the mission, how will it have an impact in what time frame. A clear mission and why funding is necessary – a good case for support. How is the funding used and who else is funding. For sponsorship or corporate or brand partners, it is the same – what is the value, what is the impact, what do you know about the audience, how does it fit with the sponsors’ demographic. Brands are looking for access to specific audiences, to shift perception, to have a purpose, to sample product, to extract value from a campaign or partnership. Lots of objectives can be realised but the onus is on the charity, organisation, or event to prove value. A partner is seeking to understand how they benefit and what is the measurement against their objectives, does the activity deliver a tangible return.
Some of the work we have been doing recently for clients as diverse as Transport for London, The Yachtmarket Southampton Boat Show, Mayflower 400 with Destination Plymouth, the International Wine and Spirit Competition, Moniker Art Fair, the Personal Support Unit, Sports for Schools, the Associated Board of the Royal Colleges of Music, the Barmy Army, IAHV South Africa and UK demonstrates to us the diverse nature of revenue generation and partnerships.
However, there is a core premise; network, build good long-term relationships, deliver a clear proposition, deliver what you promise or agree to, apply rigour to the process.. and then put in the hours making the number of approaches required. Good Luck!