8 Ways Nonprofits Can Refresh Their Next Sponsorship Letter 

Are you feeling dread or anxiety about writing your next sponsorship letter?  Here are some quick tips on how to find the right sponsors and fundraise successfully.  Whether you’re just starting with an idea for your nonprofit or you want to improve longtime fundraising efforts, find inspiration in others’ fundraising stories.  Below is a set of takeaways from expert fundraisers.  They provide crash courses and inspiring refreshers to anyone about to write their first sponsorship letter or about to start their 20th campaign. Take a deep breath and find inspiration in the takeaways and stories of these fellow fundraisers.  (Each video is about 15 minutes long.)    

1. Find a new framework for your fundraising plan. 

You likely have a fundraising plan, or you’ve started to think about making one.  Take a look at what other organizations do or recommend.  You can find inspiration in the strategies of simpler, smaller campaigns as much as bigger, more polished campaigns.  What frameworks have helped others succeed?  Learn (or learn again) the fundamental aspects of fundraising no matter the cause.  It starts with a game plan.  When was the last time you evaluated your plays and changed up your plan?  Any good athlete will tell you: get back to basics.

Inspiration: Fundraising 101 by Rueben Mayes 

2. Reframe the fundraising ask.   

Fundraising is about finding out what people value and giving those donors a meaningful experience. You are giving them a gift with the opportunity to give.  Think bigger than a transaction.  Listen to what people care about and do the work to match that with what your organization can do.  Think bigger and higher than the numbers and the details.  Elevate the pitch.  Donors are not giving money; they are changing the world.  A successful sponsorship letter makes it about them. 

Inspiration: 3 ways to be a more effective fundraiser by Kara Logan Berlin 

3. Find safety in sponsor numbers.  

A little bit from a lot of people is the way to minimize risk in your fundraising plan. How big is your audience?  Reducing complexity and uncertainty is the key to making an idea happen.  Let digital crowdfunding do the work for you by allowing donors to share their passion for your project with their family and friends, without much effort or time.  By sharing your project by text or social media, donors are opening up your nonprofit to the world and the millions online.  By spreading the funding across more donors, you decentralize, reduce bureaucracy and eliminate the risk of depending on fewer big donors who demand much more attention.  

Inspiration:  Why Crowdfund? To Make Your Idea A Reality by Simon Walker 

4. Share compelling data about how giving boosts donors’ own happiness. 

Mountains of social behavioral data show how people are overconsuming.  They have heaps of junk in their garages, and yet every year, despite higher incomes and more stuff, they continue to be miserable.  So what makes people happy?  Giving.   Donors feel happy when they know they have made a real difference in someone’s life.  Plenty of donation campaigns demonstrate the real impact of charity work on the output of the organization; but do we ever go back and show people the effect on the donors and sponsors themselves?  In your next sponsorship letter, show how your donors are feeling after giving and share that information with other potential donors.  We know consumption hurts happiness but contribution expands joy.  It’s time to make that part of your campaign. 

Inspiration:  How Money Can Buy You Happiness: Why Fundraising is Transformational by Scott Holdman   

5. Bring stakeholders into the planning and evaluation process.

A stakeholder is anyone involved or affected by the nonprofit. Transparency about where donations are spent and why will help stakeholders feel more connected to the mission and set the stage for them to participate more fully.  Stakeholder input will make sure resources are spent in the right places.  Embrace the scrutiny.  It makes sponsors feel closer to the work, and this only makes the organization better.  When changes need to happen, stakeholders are not only bought in, they were part of the group planning the pivot.  Make sure your next sponsorship letter demonstrates how they can be involved in the planning and evaluation process. 

Inspiration: Asking Hard Questions as a Non-Profit Organization by Gordon Decker 

6. Focus on connection first. 

Asking for money makes us feel vulnerable but connecting with people first makes the request for money an easier task.  The new relationship between sponsor and fundraiser is more intimate than it used to be.  Donations aren’t tossed over a wall.  Instead, a partnership is forged.  It’s based on shared values and mutual respect.  Connect first, and help comes next.  If the connection is strong, sponsors offer without being asked.   A thank you letter will replace the sponsorship letter. 

Inspiration: Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer  

7. Fundraiser role retention is a big problem.  Make sure your fundraisers feel seen and appreciated.  

Fundraising has ups and downs; trials and triumphs.  Talented fundraising professionals don’t stay in their roles long.  Many leave to do other work after a few years, but these fundraisers are the lifeblood of nonprofits.  We want them to stay.  Think about how you can elevate your development staff so that they are recognized more widely for their talents and skills.  Feeling valued is a top reason why people stay at their jobs.  How can you highlight the difficult and important work of your fundraiser as part of your next campaign?  Think of adding staff names, biographies, and efforts to your next sponsorship letter. 

Inspiration: The Agony & Ecstasy of Fundraising by Karen Brooks Hopkins  

8. Personal stories enhance fundraising efforts.

Your supporters volunteer and donate, but they can play an even greater role in fundraising by sharing with others how your non-profit has improved their lives or a family member’s life.  Think about how you can create a platform for supporters to easily share their personal stories of impact.  This creates the space for donors to learn how they are part of a community transforming the world, one person at a time.  Make sure your sponsorship letter tells a story.  

Your Stories Can Transform Nonprofits by Andrea Proulx Buinicki

By students Diolinda Vaz and Xiaoyu Jin 

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