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For most nonprofit organizations, there is only so much you can get done without good partners. While your loyal supporter base is the best place to start when it comes to driving donations, procuring auction items, and finding volunteers, the most successful nonprofits need branch out beyond individual donations. This is where corporate sponsorships come in to play.
Corporate sponsorships are a partnership between a business and a nonprofit that benefit both sides. For nonprofits, corporate sponsorships provide a go-to source of financial support as well as a network of business or community leaders. And, for corporations themselves, sponsorships can help underwrite initiatives, create new funding streams, and open the door to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs.
Corporate sponsorships don’t appear out of thin air, however. In order to find, engage with, and procure long-lasting corporate sponsors, nonprofits must be able to reach out effectively with a compelling message to grab attention. After all, most corporations receive dozens of inquiries about potential corporate sponsorship relationships.
This guide walks through the five steps of writing a compelling corporate sponsorship letter to ensure your nonprofit can stand out from the crowd.
As a bonus, we’ve also included a few examples of corporate sponsorship templates for your team:
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Before starting to write your sponsorship letter, you need to research the organization you’re reaching out to. Take time to understand their history, their current philanthropic partnerships, the board, leadership team, and their mission. This will help you find commonalities between your cause and their business!
Once you have the research done, take time to hone your message. It’s critical to have the answers to these initial questions because they’ll help inform the direction and messaging of your letter moving forward.
Ask key clarifying questions, such as:
In this first stage, make sure you have a clear idea in place of what you’re going to be asking potential sponsors for. Forging a relationship solely for financial reasons or donations requires a different message than one focused on finding new volunteers or long-term supporters. Knowing what you’re looking for before you start writing will help you better articulate your needs down the road.
Once you have a clear idea of the direction of your letter, it’s time start writing. As in any professional letter, the greeting comes first. If your organization has a history with the person you’re writing to, make sure you spell this out and let them know why you’re reaching out. If they might not know you or your organization, introduce yourself and include a brief overview of what your nonprofit does, its mission, and its value to the community. Highlight any shared connections your team might have with the corporation or why this corporation should be interested in your mission.
Now it’s time to come out and tell your potential sponsor what you’re actually looking to achieve. There are a few best practices to keep in mind during this step:
In this section, your team should emphasize the importance of this sponsorship for the corporation. Highlight CSR trends and best practices and mention the impact this sponsorship could have on the corporation’s reputation in the community.
If possible, include case studies or success stories of your other sponsors (as long as they’re not business competitors with your potential sponsor!). Your nonprofit has unique donor attributes and segments that are valuable to a business, so be sure to add information to showcase donor demographics and outline who their brand will be seen buy. Lastly, be sure to mention any additional details and benefits the corporation stands to receive as part of the sponsorship.
Overall, a corporate sponsorship letter should make a strong, compelling case for why a business should want to sponsor your nonprofit. In your conclusion, make a clear final statement and include the appropriate valediction.
Re-read your letter and makes sure there aren’t any confusing statements or messaging that could come off as ‘desperate’ or ‘needy’. Be confident! Remember, this letter should be proposing a partnership that will benefit your constituents and their brand. Finally, end with a handwritten signature from the author or a leader in your organization.
The corporation you’re reaching out to likely has many competing priorities, so it’s important to clearly articulate your follow-up plans and dates so that their internal review team knows when to expect to hear from you.
With this in mind, you should expect to hear back from a potential sponsor within several weeks of the letter arriving, depending on their internal processes and approvals. If you haven’t heard anything after a few weeks, it’s okay to follow-up with a phone call or email to see if you can answer any questions or provide further context.
Once you hear back, regardless if the sponsor turns you down or not, it’s appropriate to acknowledge their time and recognition. Send a letter, email, or small token (such as something with your nonprofit brand) to thank them for their response.
Writing strong, compelling corporate sponsorship letters is critical for nonprofits to drum up financial donations and build long-term partnerships.
Here are corporate sponsorship letter templates your team can use for your next sponsor appeal:
Dear [Company Name],
At [Nonprofit Name], we [brief introduction to the mission and vision of your nonprofit]. [How we serve the community and how corporate partners can help us reach this goal].
We are reaching out to [Company Name] today because [background on the company’s history with corporate philanthropy]. This involvement in social good makes your team the perfect partner for [Nonprofit Name].
We would like [brief outline of what you’re looking for from the company] and in return we are ready to do [something in return for the organization].
[Closing statement on why this partnership is a good idea.]
At [Nonprofit Name], we [brief introduction to the mission and vision of your nonprofit].
[How we serve the community and how corporate partners can help us reach this goal]. We are currently planning [an event that does x, y, and z]. [Outline the event and how you’re going to raise money].
In order to deliver the highest impact with this event, we think [Company Name] can help our efforts go further. In exchange for providing [whatever service or donation you’re asking for], [Nonprofit Name] would highlight your team as the corporate sponsor for this event.
At [Nonprofit Name], we [brief introduction to the mission and vision of your nonprofit]. [How we serve the community and how corporate partners can help us reach this goal]. We are currently planning [an auction geared towards raising money for this cause or mission].
In order to raise the most money for our beneficiaries, we would like to ask [Company Name] to provide or sponsor an item to include in the auction. In exchange donating an item to the auction, [Nonprofit Name] would include your information on all marketing and promotional materials.
This year, [Church Name] is working to raise money for [the goal of your fundraising mission]. We are able to reach these goals thanks to the generous donations of our congregation and sponsors like [Company Name]. Would you consider being a part of this exciting campaign
We came across [Company Name] when researching organizations with similar values as [Church Name].