How to sponsor a charitable event

Written by Nate Hendley

Sponsoring a charitable event is a great way for your company to raise its profile and promote new products. But you’ll only get out of it what you put in. PROFIT asked Lee Rennick, president of Toronto-based Rennick, Hoppe & Associates, which helps business find sponsorship clients and vice versa, for her advice on how to get the most of out of a sponsorship agreement. Here are her top seven tips:

  1. Pick an event — but not just any event. What type of charitable event should you sponsor? Sit down and really think about your personal and corporate philosophy — this is something that many businesses simply don’t do, says Rennick. Do you want to sponsor an event tied to a health concern? Children? Women’s issues? Community? If you have no idea where to start looking for events to sponsor, then perhaps begin by thinking back to the charities that have approached you in the past. Typically, charities solicit businesses for corporate sponsorships, not the other way around. You aren’t limited to sponsoring events that reflect your products or services, says Rennick. For example, a running shoe company shouldn’t feel obliged to only sponsor sporting events.
  2. Establish your goals. What are you looking to achieve by sponsoring a charitable event? Are you looking to generally raise your company’s image among the general public, or do you have a product you’d like to pitch to a specific audience? Once you decide, you’ll know what to request from the charity (see #4).
  3. Do some investigating. Before you agree to be a sponsor, take a close look at the charitable organization running it. “Request its financial statements and an information kit on what it does,” says Rennick. “Look at its mandate and how many people it assists. Make sure its funding goes into programming.” This will help you weed out questionable charities from legitimate groups, and ensures you get more from your charitable dollar.
  4. Explore all the ways you can participate. Almost all charitable event organizers will offer you logo exposure on posters, invitations and websites. But what else do you require to meet your goals? Do you want to give a speech? Do you want a booth and the opportunity to hand out samples or coupons? The more you do, the more you get noticed. In fact, Rennick suggests that companies should always dig deep to find creative ways to integrate themselves into the event. If the charity is amendable to your requests, then draw up an agreement to make sure your expectations are met at the event.
  5. Be aware of the organizer’s expectations. Many ask for a flat fee from sponsors, and there often isn’t much wiggle room around that figure, says Rennick. Sponsorship requests range all over the map, says Rennick, from a few thousand dollars to more than $40,000. But think about how you might contribute in other ways. If you are a printing company, for example, you might offer to print the invitations for free in return for logo placement.
  6. Keep the lines of communication open. If your company has a communications office, make sure it works closely with communications staff from the charitable event you are sponsoring. This will go a long way in preventing goof-ups, such as issuing press releases with contradictory information about the date, time and location of the event being sponsored. It’s equally important to decide in advance who the media spokespeople for the event will be.
  7. Insert a “first right of refusal” clause in any sponsorship contract you sign. This gives your company the option of renewing your sponsorship deal before the charity approaches anyone else.

Read other pointers on How To contribute to your business success!

© 2003 Nate Hendley

Originally appeared on PROFITguide.com