New Series (kind of): Selling Local Sponsorships for Nonprofits

johnhancockNote: While cause marketing can seem out of reach for many nonprofits, selling sponsorships for events and programs is a necessity for almost every size organization. That's why I'm reposting my Selling Local Sponsorships for Nonprofits series from last year with expanded and updated content. When it comes to selling sponsorships, here's how I think I can help.

AP course in sponsorship sales. This isn't Sponsorships 101 where I define terms like "in-kind" and presenting textbook case studies. With over 15 years of experience of selling sponsorships for nonprofits, this will be an advanced placement course in identifying, selling and closing sponsorships. Don't worry, I'll go easy on you. I've never taken an AP course in my life!

Delivering a pitch that sticks. I'm fortunate that I've always been fascinated with two things that I'm also really good at: presenting and selling. I gave up teaching public speaking and working on a doctorate in rhetorical criticism and theory at Penn State so I could put all the great things I had taught and learned to work in the real world. I've developed my public speaking and sales skills a lot since I left the classroom, and am eager to share with you what really works with prospects.

The cause marketing twist. A real shocker, huh? Since 2004, I've been director of cause marketing for a Boston hospital and have developed initiatives that have taken traditional sponsorships to new levels. This has made sponsorships easier to close and renew, more lucrative and better event drivers. Whenever I deliver Selling Local Sponsorships for Nonprofits, my section on the cause marketing twist is always the most popular and generates the most questions.

But before we get started on these three tracts, I want to briefly mention just how "local" my career selling local sponsorships has been and just how sponsor-centric my current work is.


In this map of Massachusetts the red line is Route 128, a major state highway. About 90% of the sponsorships I've sold over the past 15 years have been within that red line. That's local sponsorship sales!

In addition to being very local, my current position is incredibly sponsor-centric. And with good reason. At the safety-net hospital where I work 50% of the people we care for make less than $20,000 year, which means that unlike most hospitals we have no affluent patient "alumni" to target for fundraising. Consequently, the recipe I've followed for fundraising has been a pound of self-interest and a teaspoon of idealism that suits the taste buds of company sponsors.

Last year my team sold well over 200 corporate sponsorships for athletic events, golf outings, dinners and attractions.

In the next post we'll look at some of the advanced strategies for selling sponsorships, and how every effort really must begin by Working Inside Out.