Last week, my friend John Collins, Executive Director of the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance, used a phrase that stuck with me. Our discussion addressed the abundance of growth opportunities that exist. People often share them, thinking that we should undertake them. He said that he’s been asking idea-bringers: “Does it come with a check?” Ever since his question has stuck in my head.
I share this prospective ear-worm with you as a tool to deal with the profusion of sponsorship offers you receive. If you’re like me, five or more proposals visit your desk weekly. Most, you easily brush away. For those you consider, in the interest of time, you need a succinct evaluation tool.
“Does it come with a check?” fits the bill.
Your best sponsorships will honor and grow your relationships, improve the community, and support your business. The check question uncovers information about potential business results. That is, it asks, does the sponsorship hold the potential to positively impacting your bottom line? Do you foresee branding, employee engagement, or improved business conditions resulting from the proposal? (See Finding High ROI Sponsorships Questions for more.)
I know. Some of you think that I misunderstand your nonprofit investments. Your gifts are not about you. You make them to build the community and help a cause. If you give anonymously, don’t use this question. Instead, ask, how can we boost our support by adding an in-kind gift, employee volunteers, and the like? If you give anonymously, evaluate opportunities on how much they maximize your gift.
If, however, your business invests publicly, that is–you allow your name to be used, you inherently capture business returns. And you face a challenge.
Sadly, the vast majority of sponsorship opportunities offer anemic business returns. This lack is not because the value doesn’t exist. Mostly it’s poorly articulated. Package creators often copy other sponsorship proposals. The results? Generic goods and lackluster, dimly illuminated value.
You can help the nonprofit to unearth value that benefits everybody. In my next post, I’ll share the discovery process. It will help you bubble up greater value for the nonprofit, community, and you.
In the meantime, I leave you with this sponsorship evaluation question: “Does it come with a check?” Use it and let me know how it goes. For more thinking along this line, watch, In Sponsorships, Are You Event Rich and Relationship Poor?
Karen Eber Davis provides customized advising and coaching around nonprofit strategy and board development. People leaders hire her to bring clarity to sticky situations, break through barriers that seem insurmountable, and align people for better futures. She is the author of 7 Nonprofit Income Streams and Let's Raise Nonprofit Millions Together.
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