Fundraising - how to gain more sponsorships using marketing

In our previous articles we have established that now is the time to take stock and adapt to ways of operating in our ’new normal’ world. Our advice was to engage in an effective charity planning process, to help gain a greater understanding of your vision and core values, thereby creating a clear and concise plan for the future.

Time to read: 6 mins

Having a clear direction in times of uncertainty is paramount and this involves setting solid and realistic goals and defining strategies for achieving them. Click here to read more about the 90-day action plan we recommend addressing immediate and critical issues.


Types of funding available

Charities have many types of funding sources, for example; revenue from the government to provide goods or services, revenue from investments and revenue from donations and grants. Some charities are active fundraisers and hold annual events that are well established and have a huge profile, making them a large amount of money and helping to raise their brand profile. But for those charities that don’t have a head start in fundraising initiatives, how can you gain much needed revenue in such a competitive marketplace where sponsors just aren’t able to give as much as before?


How has the fundraising landscape changed?

With the likelihood that a full economic recovery could take years, many businesses are struggling and those that aren’t are being cautious with their spending. Therefore, getting handouts from business sponsorships is going to be tougher than ever.

Here are some tips from our Taranaki Marketing and Communications Manager, Sarah Ellem, to help increase your brand visibility and improve your brand in order to be noticed by potential sponsors. Use these tips to demonstrate that they have something else to gain from being a sponsor other than just the warm fuzzies.


Revise, adjust and reconsider your marketing messages

Economic uncertainty makes everyone reconsider where their hard-earned dollars will go. Many will save, many will be wary of public face-to-face interaction; and many of us have found a new love for online interactions. There’s also an up swell of commentary around supporting NZ businesses, events, people, charities, ‘keeping it local’. These ‘intentional spending’ behaviours should all be central to your decision making as you create marketing content

e.g. are you targeting messages to those who currently sponsor international charities or initiatives? ‘Keep your charitable donations in NZ, and support our work doing XYZ’.

Like all NZ businesses, charities have also been forced to postpone meetings with donors, cancel events, and figure out how to continue raising funds in an era of social distancing. So, now’s a good time to look at your overarching marketing strategy and revise it if necessary.


Improve your communications strategy

To help you communicate efficiently and effectively, and to be ready for another potential COVID-19 enforced lockdown or restrictions, you must consider using all the available communications channels you have to enable clear and important communications get through to key stakeholders, the wider community and potential sponsors. A few things to consider:

  • Update your website and social media pages; make sure everything’s up to date. Maybe now you can try out Facebook or Instagram stories or try the ‘Donate Now’ button on Facebook and learn how Facebook can support NFP fundraisers.
  • Communicate via email but maintain a personal approach as we can often misinterpret people’s tone of voice in an email. Do you have an e-newsletter? When was the last time you refreshed it? Is the language still appropriate?

    E.g. Are you asking people to donate their daily cup of coffee spend/cost of their commute, but they’ve lost their job or are working from home?
  • If you run direct mail campaigns have you adjusted your standard letter to fit today’s environment? Are the images still relevant?

    E.g. people hugging, large groups at an event not social distancing?
  • Have you tried new technology, like apps or text-message based donations super quick and really easy for the public to support your cause?
  • If you’re lucky enough to have an advertising budget, have you considered spending some on online marketing methods? There are lots of options depending on your target audience.
  • If you often host events/meetings, consider using webinars, online meetings or chats.


Share your stories with the media

Potential sponsors will be looking to raise their profile now more than ever, so sharing the news of a new sponsorship deal with local and national media and across all your communication platforms will help to support them and give them more reason to spend their sponsorship dollars with you. If you improve your marketing efforts and your media coverage, it will help your valued sponsors be seen by their target audience. Community Comms Collective website offers a wonderful email list of NZ media outlets.


Tell your unique story

People are overwhelmed with information right now, so your message might struggle to cut though the noise. Take some time to adapt and consider what you’re saying people might need a little empathy, humour, gentle language, less confusion, more facts, or something else”¦ and they need you to be honest with them on your needs and your vision. And make sure it’s really clear and easy for them to donate. Share your stories, your ideas, plans, your people, your community, tell your stories and remain true to your charitable purpose.


Focus on your existing relationships and retention marketing practices

Give some love to your long-term sponsors. Treat them with respect and let them know what you’re up to and how their sponsorship is helping.

Sending a thank-you note, and donation receipt is not only good practice but it’s also beneficial to building relationships with your donors and supporters and can alleviate some of the pressures of non-stop fundraising.


Do your research

There are organisations and online resources you can tap into for marketing support to your NFP. For example in Taranaki there is an organisation called The Wheelhouse, that aims to help community organisations with training and development. They currently provide two-hour sessions focused on the nuts and bolts of good marketing for board members, committee members, volunteers and staff looking to improve their skills. Maybe there is something similar in your region?

Help Tank is a NZ based website that connects marketing (and other specialisations, like websites, IT, event organisers, funding coordinators etc. ) experts with not for profits seeking help.

Community Comms Collective offer a helping hand to all community groups who need marketing or communications support and can also match you with a volunteer.

Facebook offer a range of marketing and advertising courses for non-profits via their ‘Social Good’ virtual training sessions. And have a host of ideas if you need to shift an event from physical to virtual.

LinkedIn offer a free webinar on how to use the channel for social fundraising and using your wider networks/stakeholders to help your fundraising efforts through building relationships and opening doors.


Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

Need some new fundraising ideas? Take a look at what your contemporaries are doing overseas. What marketing are they doing right now for their fundraising? Their restrictions might be tougher than ours, and so their fundraising efforts might have had to be rapidly and creatively adjusted.
A quick google search will generate a host of articles, ideas lists and clever fundraising ideas you can borrow and make your own. But do make it your own!

This article provides some tangible advice to adapt your marketing approach and offers ideas to help you raise your profile, refine your messaging and find support and ideas within the community to assist you raise funds in the current climate.

We wish you all the best of luck as you navigate the new landscape and adjust to what could well be our ‘new normal’ for years to come.

DISCLAIMER No liability is assumed by Baker Tilly Staples Rodway for any losses suffered by any person relying directly or indirectly upon any article within this website. It is recommended that you consult your advisor before acting on this information.

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