Non-Profit Sponsorship: Change Your Mind


I’m preparing notes today for my upcoming webinar, Corporate Sponsorship For Non-Profits: How To Put A Price Tag On What You Do. A big piece of what I try to get across—my number one objective—is to get development staff, grant writers and the like to think about sponsorship with a different mindset than the one they use in their approach to fundraising.

I’m reminded that in the 25+ years that I’ve worked for/with a variety of non-profit organizations, sponsorship discussions were rare. And when those discussions did come up, they were usually incorrectly defined by well-intentioned development staff who used “sponsorship” as an all-encompassing term for corporate giving.

In my Foundation Center webinar, I cover four main areas:

·     The Corporate Marketing Mindset

·     Identifying and Pricing Assets

·     Building the Proposal

·     The Pitch

Having worked on both sides of sponsorship, I know first-hand that marketing department decisions are rarely, if ever, made based on the desire to “support,” “fund” or “underwrite” someone else’s event or exhibition. (And truth be told, we don’t even like allocating marketing dollars to our own internal events and outreaches.) Rather, corporate marketers are reading non-profit proposals the way they read demo sheets, ratings books, and per-cap spreadsheets: is this going to help grow the business?

I previously wrote that with my museum clients, one of my favorite techniques to get the content folks to focus on the customer was to fire three questions at them:

“So what?” “Who cares?” “What does it mean to me?”

Direct? Irreverent? Perhaps. But in the end, my goal was to get staff to think about what they do from a customer perspective. So too, I encourage non-profit staff to think like the sponsorship “customer” when trying to tap into their marketing dollars. After all, if marketers weren’t interested in their Return On Investment, they wouldn’t be putting nearly eight of ten sponsorship dollars into sports and other entertainment.

And when was the last time you attended a ball game and said, “Wow, I really love the mission statement of my team.” But marketers love your team’s fan demos, TV ratings and how much fans spend. That’s the mindset you need to have. 


Michael Savino is a marketing and communications professional with more than 25-years experience working for, and with, non-profit organizations and public attractions. He currently serves as Director of Marketing at Resorts World Casino New York City, where he leads media buying, creative, sponsorship and social media efforts, as well as overseeing the Casino’s Analytics, Audio-Visual, Database and Entertainment/Events departments.