Fundraising Sponsorship: Hints for Harvesting the Low Hanging Fruit for Better Profits


When you need money, you might be tempted to go after big-names and high-rolling donors. Don’t. Grab the low-hanging fruit first. If you’ve already got a list of donors lined up, these are your core sponsors. Here’s how to get them to upgrade their donation and where to find new donors for your next event.

Make a Spreadsheet

The first thing you should do is make a list of all potential candidates. You will be including past and current donors on this list. In fact, put those people and businesses at the top. Even if you wouldn’t consider them “A-List” donors, put them up there anyway.

Your spreadsheet should include the name of the potential sponsor, and then several columns for contact attempts and finally a column to note the amount donated.

Approach Existing Donors

Approaching existing and past sponsors first is the real low-hanging fruit. Many organizations ignore them, however, if they didn’t contribute much last year. That’s a huge mistake. Sometimes, sponsors don’t contribute much because they don’t know your organization very well. If you let them get to know you better, you may find that they are more than willing to increase their donation. All it takes is a little finessing.

The PRe-Approach Letter

Your Pre-approach letter is really a PR letter combined with traditional marketing. You want to let potential sponsors know about your organization, what you stand for, and what they get out of sponsoring your event.

If you’re approaching past sponsors, you should start out by reminding them of all of the great things their donation accomplished. Break it down so that they can see where every dollar of theirs went. Sponsors like that because it shows that:

  • You have a budget for their donations and;
  • They’re sponsoring a legitimate organization.

You might also send them a memento or gift to get them in the mood to donate. For example, you could send them something from Ad Magic. When your donors get lumpy mail, they will open it – guaranteed.

Tell donors that you want to upgrade their sponsorship, and ask them if they’d like to support the organization with the same level of donation as last year or upgrade to VIP status with a new donation. For example, you might ask them if they’d prefer to donate $1,000 again this year or upgrade to $2,500 this year. Tell them they would get.

Ask Businesses You Frequent

Yet another good place to look for annual donations is local businesses you frequent. Many local businesses would be happy to fund your event if you reached out to them and asked. Leveraging your relationship with businesses you frequent also allows you an opportunity for free advertising for your event.

Use a pre-approach letter similar to the one you used for existing sponsors. Keeping with that theme, use lumpy mail to attract their attention and don’t forget to ask for the donation. With new donors, it’s imperative that you follow up via phone and spend some time chatting them up, building rapport, and making sure they understand that you’re a legit organization that’s worthy of their donation.

Bruce Webb is a bit of a fundraising veteran and works in a senior role in a non-profit organization. He enjoys the chance to share his insights with an online audience. You can find posts written by him across a variety of different websites.

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