Why is it that only a few charities seem to benefit from all the corporate sponsorship? Is it possible that other worthy charities are missing out due to weaknesses in their online marketing and communications strategy?
While many charities have jumped onboard social media to promote their cause and have seen the benefits of online fundraising sites, there is still a huge gap where corporate sponsors are not being reached – except by the small percentage of charities which are attracting all the sponsorship. What is it that those charities are doing so well to attract all the sponsors? The answer lies in their online marketing and communications strategy.
After working with a charity recently regarding this topic, I’ve come up with ten unique ways you can help your charity be a corporate sponsorship magnet:
1) Make sure your message is clear. Everywhere your charity is online, your message needs to be clear, short and simple. There’s a place for details, and it’s not in the short summary section on Facebook or the homepage on your website. Businesses need to know instantly what your charity is about – ideally in one or two sentences. Images are great too, as they say a thousand words, but take less than five seconds to comprehend.
2) Sort out your SEO – On the most basic level, make sure you’re saying the right words across your website. For example, if a business does a Google search for ‘charity [doing your cause] in [your local town]’ then your charity needs to fit into those search terms. Think about what words people outside of your charity use to describe you and use their language. There is much more to Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), so go ahead and do what you can to make sure your website is SEO-friendly. Many businesses seeking sponsorship opportunities do a Google search to make a shortlist of charities to consider. Make sure yours shows up.
3) Professionalism and Up-To-Date-Ness (yes, I made that up) – even though many charities are doing great things, their websites and social media pages suggest they stopped working a long time ago. Start by doing a quick check on all your content and dates – if they’re old, update them. Then, continue updating everything regularly. A good place to start is by having a news-feed on your website and making sure you follow a plan for your social media posts.
4) Start talking about donors on social media – Demonstrate on social media that you are more than willing to promote businesses who sponsor you. This is about providing value back to your sponsors. When you thank a business for its support online, they effectively receive free endorsement and promotion, boosting their brand’s reputation and helping them reach more potential customers. That’s a deal that’s hard for businesses to refuse. In fact, many businesses are paying a lot of money in advertising dollars and could achieve the same (or better) results by donating the money to your charity instead.
5) Talk about them on your website – This is similar to promoting your donors on social media, only a website is more solid and can show up in Google searches (more so than social media posts can). Therefore the value is immense, especially if you are willing to write a news article about their support and even promote their business by listing them as a ‘proud sponsor’. And, just a hint, businesses LOVE seeing their logo in different places.
6) Be the leader in your sphere – One way to do this is through Content Marketing. Examples are blog posts, articles, interviews, podcasts and newsletters. Basically by creating content which people are interested in, your charity will build its reputation as the leader in its area of work. Being a leader, regardless of how big or small your charity is, will go a long way in positioning your charity as the desired charity to sponsor.
7) Show who else is on board – Also known as social proof, which basically means people copy each other because they assume everyone else knows what the right thing to do is. Therefore if other businesses are sponsoring you, more businesses will want to. You can show who else supports your charity through your website and social media channels.
8) Show up in lots of places – one way to do this is through Public Relations (PR). The more your charity shows up in media (even online media), the more businesses will want to support you. And of course, any media coverage you get (even for unofficial media) should be shared and promoted on your website.
9) Tell your story – This is usually an easy job for charities – showing the qualitative value in your work. The more you capture the decision maker’s heart, the harder it will be for them to say no. Make sure you have videos and photos of the work you do and of the people behind your charity (particularly the founder, if possible).
10) Give them the data – Never forget that a business needs to justify spending money, and quantitative value is therefore just as important as qualitative value. Provide statistics that businesses can show their board members or managers or put in their annual reports. These can be statistics around the work your charity does – for example, how many people you help. Also provide numbers which could provide value to their business – for example, how many people receive your newsletters, how many followers you have on social media, where your supporters live (etc). Have a look at advertising media kits to see what sort of information they provide about their readers/viewers.
Although many of these steps are basic in the for-profit sector, nonprofits have been slow to apply them. By implementing just these ten steps, your charity will be able to stand out from the crowd and begin attracting more corporate sponsors.