As part of our guide on accessing funding for your community project, we mentioned that a local business or organization could potentially sponsor your project. All businesses, from sole traders to corporations, want to see the communities they work in thrive. You can take advantage of their desire to support the community and seek sponsorship for your new project. Although it may seem daunting at first, with the right guidance, you and your team can partner with a local business to get the necessary funding to start your new community initiative!
To put this guide together, we spoke with Adrian Whelan from Brown Brothers Harriman for tips on getting sponsorship from businesses. Adrian is Senior Vice President of Regulatory Intelligence at BBH and believes he should use his platform at a global level to empower others and be a role model for disadvantaged communities. Community engagement is most important to him and he is involved in various community development initiatives such as Protect Accent and Inspire Project.
Who could sponsor your project?
The amount of funding you are looking for will be a good indicator of who to target when looking for sponsorship. If you are setting up a project that doesn’t require too much funding, such as a Poetry in the Park or a Neighborhood Network, then you’ll have a lot more options and you can approach smaller businesses for support. However, if your project has more associated costs, like a Men’s Shed or Community Garden, then you may need to look for larger businesses. Whatever the case, Adrian advises you should be able to find a business that matches your needs.
“Given the current economic and political events of 2020 so far, access to funding is harder than ever before but opportunities will still exist for businesses to support impactful community projects”.
When looking for who is most likely to sponsor your project, Adrian suggests looking for businesses whose focus aligns with yours. For example in Ireland, one of KBC Bank’s pillars of sustainability is health and wellbeing, so they sponsor WellFest and the Dublin Marathon. So, have a look at the businesses in your community through social media and their websites to see their missions and values, and see which one suits your idea best.
Prepare your story
“If you’re going to be dealing with businesses, you’ll need to use a business brain”, says Adrian. Your story should be a slide show or booklet for your client, it includes how and why this project started and pictures of the team. It should also include what’s in it for the sponsor, and a breakdown of what the sponsorship will be spent on, which we will elaborate on later in this guide.
Start with your contacts and network
The people you know are the best opportunity you have to get sponsorship. The business you work for is a great place to start looking. They already know and trust you so that’s half the work done! You should also think about where your friends and family work as they may be able to help you get a meeting with the person responsible for sponsorship in their company. A foot in the door is all you need and then you can show them why your project is worth sponsoring.
Make it clear why they should sponsor you
What’s in it for the sponsor? As mentioned before, businesses love to see the communities they work in thrive, but there are plenty of other reasons for them to sponsor you. If they’re funding the project, that means they’re a part of the project too. They’ll want the community to know that and here are a few ways you can do this:
- Branding on equipment – if you need to purchase equipment or attire for your project, the business can get their name or branding featured.
- Social media plan – you can offer them a schedule of social media posts that will be associated with their business and give their brand exposure.
- Cutting the ribbon – once sponsorship is sealed and your project is about to launch, you can have a grand opening and invite your sponsor to cut the ribbon and thank them in front of the community.*
*If hosting any community events, make sure you are following the government guidelines in relation to COVID-19 restrictions or consider doing it virtually through Facebook / Instagram Live etc.
Get an ambassador for your project
Adrian believes that an ambassador is a great way to give your project exposure and authenticity and this will appeal to potential sponsors. Think about people who have influence in your community, such as local councillors, celebrities or sport stars. Get in touch with them and ask if they will endorse your project or become a project ambassador. However, make sure that they are committed to your idea. “A good ambassador should feel and believe in your project, and should ideally promote it for free”, tells Adrian. A good ambassador will help give your project awareness and credibility and businesses will like that your project has powerful support.
Have a budget and forecast
Now that the business knows why they should sponsor your project, give a breakdown of the funding required and all of its associated costs. Adrian emphasised the importance of a budget as businesses won’t sponsor you if you don’t know what you’ll do with the money. This budget doesn’t have to be formatted or calculated professionally, but a simple breakdown of all the estimated costs for setting up and maintaining the project should be included.
Don’t be afraid to ask.
Adrian thinks that a lot of people are under-ambitious in what they are asking for.
“If you think small, you’ll be small. Don’t be afraid to think big and ask big, you have absolutely nothing to lose! There are very little resources during these times so you’ll have to shout and fight for them. So don’t be afraid to ask, but be prepared when the opportunity comes.”
At first, getting sponsorship for your project may seem like a huge obstacle, but a passion for your project will allow you to overcome any amount of money being asked for. By combining your enthusiasm for the idea with a business approach, you will have no problem getting the funding to get started in your community.
Do you have any other tips for getting sponsorship? Or do you know any businesses that are offering sponsorship? Let us know at [email protected]