[Author’s note: The entire article, “Getting Corporate Sponsors for your YPO” was available for free to all visitors through Sept. 21, 2009. The entire article is still available to Members in our Library. Why should I become a Member? If you’d like to be the first to know when new articles are posted for a limited time, subscribe to What’s Next (email) or follow @nextgenconsult on Twitter.]
Does this situation sound familiar?
Your YPO has launched successfully, and you have awesome ideas for future programs, but no budget. You face a choice:
- You can “bootstrap” each event, finding new sponsors and in-kind donations for each
- You can pursue corporate sponsors, who’ll make an annual commitment to your YPO in exchange for a package of benefits
- You can do a hybrid of the two
Many young professionals organizations (YPOs) rely on a mix of memberships, corporate sponsors, and grants to keep their programs humming. In this article, we talk about a strategic 5-step approach to take you from Zero to Hero in developing corporate sponsors:
1. Think like Santa: Make a list of prospects and check it twice.
Who should be on your YPO corporate sponsor list?
Sit down with some of your most entrepreneurial and connected members and supporters and ask:
- Who benefits most from our YPO? Who would cry themselves to sleep at night if we didn’t exist?
- Which companies have - or need - a lot of younger employees? Note: School districts, fire and police departments are often overlooked.
- Does our membership roster include multiple members from a single employer? For example, if you’ve got five YPs from Amazing Life Insurance Company (ALIC), but ALIC is not a sponsor, put them on your list.
- Which companies consider young professionals their target market? Real estate professionals (especially with the current first-time home-buyers credit), telecommunications and cable companies, cell phone companies, insurance agencies, financial service companies, daycares, colleges, retailers, bars and restaurants may all be on the prospect list.
- You should also consider requiring or at least encouraging your board and/or council members to ask for a contribution from their company or at least help get you in the door. We are starting to see more YPOs require a monetary contribution from their board/council members (much like the
big boy boards).
2. Switch seats. Get on the same side of the table as the prospect.
Many person-to-person interactions, e.g. checking in at a hotel, meeting with your boss, opening a checking account, are arranged so that the two parties are facing each other with something (a desk, a table, etc) between them. This puts a physical barrier between you, and may create a subtle sense of being in “opposition” to the person on the other side.
Looking at your list of prospects, think about how to (metaphorically) be on the same side of the desk with them, rather than sitting across from them. This is a subtle but important difference. Rather than approach the prospect trying to sell your YPO, slide over to their side of the desk and look at the pitch from their perspective. What’s in it for them?
For each prospect on your list, identify two things: why should they become a sponsor, and what’s in it for them.
To determine why they should become a sponsor, dig up some facts about your YPO and about the potential sponsor. For example, if you’re trying to woo a real estate company, look back on your Global Impact Survey, and find out how many of your members are renters looking to buy their first home. If you know that the potential sponsor has a lot of young employees, develop talking points about the importance of getting new employees connected to their peers, in order to retain them, and plan to ask if there are any challenges the employer is facing in attracting or retaining young talent. Corporations understand the bottom line. You may want to even ask how much it cost to train new employees, connecting that to how your YPO can help in their retention efforts.
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