Charity Sponsorship: Change your mindset – change your fortunes
21st August, 2018
Charity partnerships have shown they can be extremely effective when done right; you only have to look at partnerships between LEGO and WFF, Pampers and Unicef and the I am Shaquem Griffin video, which shook the internet to see this. But for many years, there has seemed to be a reluctance to maximise charity sponsorships.
In the digital age, modern high-level sponsorships have formed a crucial component of the strategic marketing mix, but it could be argued that CSR focussed sponsorships have seemingly been behind the curve. Although in recent times there has been a noticeable shift in CSR sponsorships, Slingshot believes that more can be done so that brands and charities can harness each other for a greater mutual gain.
Charities have the potential to offer brands so much more than CSR alone. In many cases, charities can offer everything that a normal rights holder can: brand awareness, experiential opportunities, direct sales, digital marketing and access to high-profile ambassadors. On top of this, CSR partnerships offer great client hospitality opportunities, and are generally linked to internal stakeholder and employee satisfaction. However, for more charities and brands to take advantage of these benefits, attitudes to these types of partnerships need to change.
Changing the Charity Mindset
Firstly, the charities themselves need to realise their commercial potential. Historically, charities have fallen into the trap of leading with a philanthropic pitch when in-front of brands rather than showcasing the value of a sponsorship deal. Charities are so unique and varied that they have assets and activation opportunities that many properties cannot offer, so charities must invest in the understanding of their audience, realising their USP and harnessing this for their commercial benefit. Additionally, we stress that charities need to be proactive! To get sponsors, you can’t wait for the proposals to come to you, you need to make them yourselves.
Changing the Brand Mindset
Attitudes of brands need to adjust too. There’s generally a timid behaviour towards charities: ‘we have to do this for goodwill, but we can’t use this as a commercial opportunity’… Of course, you can! Charities want to work with relevant brands to create value for their audience just like a music festival or sports team does. Being actively involved in a sponsorship that has a strong fit with your demographic will create value for the charities consumers and help your brand reach a more holistic set of objectives. This will lead to a more authentic long-term relationship, which will be far more effective than simply donating to a goodwill cause.
One charity that is following our approach is Muscular Dystrophy UK (MDUK). We spoke with Ramon Smits, the charity’s Business Development Manager, to understand what they think sets them apart and what their advice for other charities is: “MDUK understands that charities usually represent an opportunity for corporate philanthropy, but in recent times we have realised the commercial value of our own brand. We are the leading charity for muscle wasting diseases, which is a great title for partners to align themselves with! Through Slingshot, we have understood how to use our unique assets to boost our sponsorship revenue. We believe that other charities can benefit massively from truly understanding who their audience is and what they could offer potential partners; knowing that is vital to showcase your value and attract sponsorship!”