We’ve talked about how valuable sponsors for your elementary school can be. Today, we’ll get into the nitty-gritty of finding these potential sponsors and encouraging them up to partner with your school. Here are 7 tips for long-term sponsorship success:
1. Layout the opportunities. The list of ways that sponsors can partner with your school is endless. I’ve seen logos placed on student’s folders, booth’s offered at school events, information passed out on businesses that donate to a fundraiser, logos on fields and customized messages in school-wide emails. Think of the ways that you can give your sponsors some classy visibility for the parents at your school to become squinted with them. There are too many list, but maybe that’s good fodder for another post!
2. Get a sponsor packet together. Whether you have an actual “sponsorship kit/page” to hand out, or an online equivalent, get some kind of informational package together before you even think about starting to approach potential sponsors. This is a situation where some work up front really pays off in the long run. Coming at it from a “So, what do you think you might want to do?” way will make you appear disorganized and not truly committed to a formal sponsorship program.
3. Emphasize the true investment in children. Sponsorships can be a good way for local businesses to get their name out there and attract new customers, but it’s ultimately all about helping your school achieve its mission of educating your community’s children and helping them achieve their full potential. Focusing on this higher aspect of your sponsorship program will make your sponsors feel really good about being part of this important work. Of course they may get a return on investment but that should just be icing on the cake.
4. Start with your existing families. Many schools are made up of families that are already active in the business community and you may be surprised to learn how many of them are actual business owners. The very first thing you can do is reach out to the parents at your school to see if they own or help manage a company/organization that would be interested in sponsoring your school in some way.
5. Build relationships with local businesses. Once you’ve made a list of possible sponsors for your school, focus on organic relationship-building. “Like” their Facebook pages. Stop by and say hello. Patronize their businesses (this is an important one!). You’ll find that many businesses love the idea of partnering with local schools. So after you’ve learned a bit more about the business ask for a meeting!
6. Add perks. Take a page from the museums here – and the public broadcasting networks! People love stuff. Your sponsorship agreement should specify the official exposure your sponsor will get and should also include some fun perks. These don’t have to cost much (or anything at all, in some cases), but they will greatly increase the perceived value of the sponsorship arrangement – 4 free tickets to the fall musical, a tote bag with your school logo on it, admission to a sponsors’-only appreciation dinner, etc.
7. Plan for contingencies. Nobody likes to think about things going south, but you need to plan ahead for what happens if either side breaches the terms of the sponsorship agreement – or just plain wants out at some point. Spelling everything out ahead of time helps reduce unpleasant surprises and hurt feelings later on. Because your sponsors are part of your community, it’s extra-important to preserve good relationships even if the sponsorship itself falls through for some reason.
8. Solicit their feedback. Once you get your sponsorship program up and rolling, check in with your sponsors regularly – both to express your appreciation and to get their feedback. They may have suggestions that can make your program even more successful.
Don’t forget to keep them (and the rest of your community) posted about the concrete ways they’ve helped, either: “Thanks to the generosity of Joe’s Pizza, we’ve been able to equip our computer lab with 3 new tablets this semester!” A regular announcement schedule – set up on MemberHub, maybe? – keeps these kinds of updates easy.
Does your school partner with sponsors? Would you be willing to share your tips below in the comments?