This guest post was contributed by Harbor Compliance.
Black-tie galas, fun runs, association conferences, and online charity auctions are examples of the broad variety of live and virtual events that nonprofits use to engage their supporters and generate revenue for their missions. No matter what type of event your nonprofit is planning, corporate sponsorships are likely to be key to its profitability.
Event sponsorship provides corporations with an opportunity to do more than showcase their products or services to event attendees. It provides businesses with an opportunity to generate positive publicity, improve their reputation, and enhance the image of their brand. As a nonprofit organization, you are particularly well-positioned to provide this.
Businesses understand that you have tapped into the passion and enthusiasm of your supporters. Your credibility with stakeholders and the trust you’ve earned from the general public are a large part of what you bring to the sponsorship table. This “halo” is part of your event’s value to sponsors, and incorporating it into your sponsorship messaging will improve your odds of landing the corporate sponsorships you need for a profitable event.
Wondering how to best reinforce your halo’s value proposition and win that big sponsorship? Make sure you show sponsors that you are well-positioned to protect their reputation and enhance their brand. Ready to learn the specifics? Here’s an overview of the five things nonprofit event sponsors really want to know about your event.
Event sponsors want to be certain that your live or virtual event abides by all applicable laws and regulations, including fundraising licensing. Whether you’re asking for charitable donations on your online event registration page, in event emails, or engaging in text-to-give with event attendees, you’re engaging in fundraising activities regulated under many state’s charity regulations. Since fundraising happens wherever the message is received, regardless of whether you get a donation in response, online fundraising means you may well be fundraising in every state.
Currently, 40 states and the District of Columbia require nonprofits to register before soliciting donations from their residents, and 25 jurisdictions require that special disclosure language be included in those solicitations. Appointment of a registered agent is required in the District of Columbia and several other states. A few states require nonprofits to “foreign qualify” before registering. Our online Fundraising Compliance Guide is a great resource that provides not only an overview of fundraising regulations, but state-by-state regulatory details as well.
If you’ve hired an event planner or fundraiser to help you with your event, both your event planner and your nonprofit may be required to register in one or more states, possibly states where you would be otherwise exempt from registration. You can learn more about requirements for professional fundraisers of every type, and the nonprofits who work with them, in this online professional fundraiser guide.
Sponsors want to be certain that your event will be safe. Tell them your organization and your vendors will meet your risk management responsibilities. Tell potential sponsors that you have confirmed that your insurance policy has adequate coverage for the type and size of nonprofit event you are planning and that you have obtained any recommended supplemental coverage.
If your event is live, then let sponsors know you have developed an emergency plan for your event, and have discussed safety protocols with your event venue. If your event is virtual, inform sponsors that you have discussed security and privacy with your virtual event app developer. Make sure your sponsors know that you share their concern that the event be as safe as possible.
Event sponsors know that auctions, raffles and other types of gaming are fun and entertaining ways to drive engagement at your event, as well as support for your mission. Sponsors also know that whether these gaming activities are live or virtual, they often require state licenses, local permits, or both. Inform sponsors that in addition to securing all required state fundraising registrations before your event, you will obtain all special licenses needed for any games of chance you’ll conduct. Harbor Compliance’s Charitable Gaming Compliance online guide offers state-specific detail that can help you make sure your event’s gaming is compliant.
Event sponsors want to know that you have both the resources and the team in place to execute your live or virtual event professionally. They expect your event software will perform well on the day of your event. They also expect that both your nonprofit staff and the specialists you’ve hired will conduct themselves professionally at all times.
Inform them that both your event technology and your event specialists have been carefully vetted and chosen. Let event sponsors know that you’ve trained your staff thoroughly and have established a clear chain of command. Make sure to provide sponsors with details on your event app and offer a training session on its use.
Nonprofit event sponsors expect your event will deliver its promised return on their investment. Compile a list with event details, audience demographics, and sponsor deliverables. Make sure to provide sponsors with specifics on planned event engagement too. Let them know your event app is equipped to engage your online attendees with polls, virtual meetups, and interactive education sessions.
Be sure to show your gratitude to your nonprofit event sponsors by thanking them both privately and publicly. Make it a habit to provide sponsors with an unexpected additional deliverable, like a one-day banner ad. This bit of extra value will distinguish you from others competing for sponsor dollars. Finally, follow up with your sponsors after the event by sending a fulfillment report with detailed proof of performance and a survey to see if your performance measured up to their expectations.
What do sponsors really want to know? They want to know that your virtual or live event will both minimize business risk, and maximize their marketing objectives. Make sure your event budget includes the professional technology and services required to make it successful. Invest in a quality event app, a professional event planner, and managed fundraising compliance services.
Remember, sponsorship is just the beginning of your relationship with your nonprofit event sponsors. Businesses have many more dollars available to support the right nonprofit partner in other ways like cause marketing campaigns, also known as commercial co-ventures. Make sure you have demonstrated to your event sponsors that you are the right nonprofit partner!
Harbor Compliance does not provide tax, financial, or legal advice. Use of our services does not create an attorney-client relationship. Harbor Compliance is not acting as your attorney and does not review information you provide to us for legal accuracy or sufficiency.
About the Author:
Sharon Cody, JD is the partnership manager at Harbor Compliance. Since 2012, Harbor Compliance has helped more than 25,000 organizations apply for, secure, and maintain licensing. Sharon’s passion for educating nonprofits on the value of compliance stems from three decades spent as an attorney, foundation executive, charitable fundraiser, and nonprofit board member.
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