Time to Think Differently

The 2013 IEG annual survey of non-profit fundraising professionals clearly showed that most non-profits and charities across Canada and the USA still do not understand sponsorship. Yes, there are some that do-and they do well. They reap the approximately $650 million spent in sponsorship on arts, festivals, and charities each year in Canada alone. The others lose out because they are too archaic, stubborn, or just can’t grasp the concept of ongoing future success in diversifying their revenue base and increasing revenue. Those must be the ones that have all the money they need.

IEG says that group, the ones that don’t understand, accounts for 68% of the fund raisers surveyed. That group indicates that they don’t treat sponsorship any differently than they do philanthropy. Less than 33% recognize any need at all to treat sponsorship differently than donations. Over 66% of the respondents indicated they were having trouble getting in the door with corporate personnel outside of the corporate contributions/CSR department. Almost 60% of respondents had difficulty identifying marketable assets, which was #7 on the top ten list of potential obstacles to increasing revenue. You would think these signs would be an alarm bell. Guess not!

Fifteen years or so ago, people sat around board room tables chatting about whether they needed a web site or not. Then came the questions about social media and if “we” needed to get into it. The world is changing. Virtually all of us have web sites and Facebook pages. For the non-profit and charitable sector, the questions were beyond just “should we have a web site and ultimately a Facebook and other social media platforms?” to questions such as “should we now really focus and create a department for planned giving?” Or the questions like “can we take donations online and should we, or will we alienate our donors?” “Can we afford to go to an online newsletter (and save tens of thousands of dollars a year that can go to the cause) or will we annoy that 3% of our donors who are not online?” Yes we asked these questions.

The people who don’t accept donations on line, who don’t have a website or social media integration, or a planned giving program or online registrations and newsletters are in trouble. They can close this article up now because they have way bigger problems than determining if they should be in the sponsorship game.

So, the question for the group of people and organizations that still cannot, or chose not to, differentiate between sponsorship and philanthropy, what are you waiting for? Sponsorship is a viable revenue channel. You have marketable assets (or you would not be in business). You run events. Sponsorship revenue in Canada continues to grow. The Canada Revenue Agency says you need to differentiate between sponsorship and philanthropy. How long does this list need to be? Now is the time to pick up the phone (if that is your choice of communication) or visit a web site for one of the several qualified sponsorship marketing agencies in Canada such as the Partnership Group – Sponsorship Specialists™. Or attend training and development conferences such as the SMCC Western Sponsorship Congress™ to partake in networking, to learn more, and to determine whether or not sponsorship is for you (most likely it is). Or chat with an informed person in the fund raising sector at your next AFP function or event. But talk about it. Learn about it and don’t blame others for their success when you have failed even to understand what sponsorship is and can do for you, your organization, and your mission.

These are just one person’s thoughts. Yours are welcomed as well. Please add your thoughts or comments below. Thank you for reading and your feedback.

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