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!”

Slingshot can help with any enquiries about sponsorship. If taking your sponsorship strategy seriously is of interest to you, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Bank of America restoring faith in Super Bowl mania 4th February, 2014

Ah, the Super Bowl – the time of the year that makes little to no difference to my life, apart from on Monday, whenAdweek provides us with the glory of the previous evening’s ad-off; with the added bonus of no touchdowns in between.

This year, we bore witness to a Clydesdale horse falling in love with a puppy and (to many people’s dismay) another showing of Bob Dylan selling a car.  Dylan sticking it to the man aside, the ad that struck me most was that of Bank of America.  The Bank used its prized slot as an opportunity to launch the company’s partnership withAIDS charity (RED).  The 60 second slot showcased U2 with the release of their first track in 5 years, ‘Invisible’  and directed fans to download the track for free off iTunes for 24 hours after the ad’s airing, with Bank of America donating $1 for every download (up to $2 million).

The showcasing of this partnership leads perfectly from the piece Patrick Nally wrote last week for #Synergy30.   Within the article, Nally makes the crucial argument that for the sponsorship industry to progress, it ‘needs to be directly involved in the debate and examination of the relationships between sports and the worlds of commerce, education, technology, governments and politics and society in general.’  For me, this 60 second ad did just that.  The Super Bowl had the world at their feet on Sunday (well, until the second half) and granted Bank of America, U2 and (RED) a platform not only to gain global exposure, but to raise awareness and funds for the charity.

What is emphasised through this partnership is the endless opportunity for corporates to use sponsorship/advertising at global sporting events as a platform for greater good.  Through the ad slot, over 3 million free downloads were purchased on iTunes – reaching the $2 million mark within hours, encouraging Bank of America to continue donating further into the night.  Such an overwhelming response to this partnership emphasises the influence corporates, global sporting events and even aging Irish rock stars can generate when given the right opportunity.  Of course, the Super Bowl is at the highest end of the spectrum, but what we need now is for more rights holders to offer platforms that can facilitate these partnerships, and for sponsors to recognise the undeniable value in them.

Slingshot Sponsorship signs Carphone Warehouse as Headline Partner of Award-Winning Spring Online Campaign 22nd January, 2014

After the success of last year’s partnership, Digital Unite has announced that Carphone Warehouse will again act as Headline Partner for Spring Online, one of the UK’s leading digital inclusion campaigns which will run from 31st March – 4th April 2014.

Around 7 million people across the UK have never used the internet, of which just over 6 million are aged over 55 years. Many more can’t do basic online tasks such as send an email or browse the web.

Since 2002, Digital Unite’s Spring Online campaign has sought to inspire people, particularly older people, to achieve a lasting use of the internet by supporting volunteers and organisations to hold hundreds of free internet taster events across the UK.  Last year around 1,000 Spring Online events were held helping over 20,000 people to get online.

The successful partnership between Carphone Warehouse and Spring Online 2013 saw a number of Carphone Warehouse stores actively participate in the campaign with their own Spring Online events.   One store in particular, Carphone Warehouse Billericay , received a Spring Online 2013 Best Event Award for its enthusiasm and commitment to the initiative as the in-store team hosted their event on a Sunday when the store is normally closed.  Such was the success and interest by local people that the Billericay store has continued to remain open one Sunday every month to help more people learn about digital technology.

Kesah Trowell, CSR Lead at Carphone Warehouse said “Getting to grips with technology can be daunting for many older people yet they can have the most to gain, whether it’s keeping in touch with friends and family, internet shopping and banking or finding out about community events and activities. At Carphone Warehouse we’ve been guiding people through the complexities of the connected world for 25 years and are keen to share our knowledge and experience to help combat digital and social exclusion”.

Now in its 13th year, the Spring Online campaign has been instrumental in successfully helping tens of thousands of people make technology a part of their everyday lives and helped even more so through the partnership with Carphone Warehouse.  Carphone Warehouse’s sponsorship of the Spring Online campaign will be administered by Digital Unite’s charitable arm, the Digital Unite Trust.

Judith Graham, Operations Manager for Spring Online said: “We are delighted to have Carphone Warehouse as Headline Partner for Spring Online again this year.  The way the stores took time out from business as usual to get involved in the campaign and effectively meet the needs of local older people was terrific. We’re looking forward to building on these successful foundations with Carphone Warehouse to help even more people in 2014.”

Slingshot Sponsorship to Deliver ‘Team Boris’ for the Mayor’s Charities at Prudential Ride London 2013 9th July, 2013

Slingshot Sponsorship has been announced as the representative agency for Team Boris raising funding for the Mayor’s Charities for this year’s Prudential Ride London which is taking place across the city during the 3rd-4th August 2013.

Throughout the Prudential RideLondon campaign, Slingshot Sponsorship will be co-ordinating ‘Team Boris’ – a London-wide campaign to promote the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson’s involvement with Ride London, on behalf of his charities that aim to support London’s future.  Slingshot Sponsorship will be creating, developing and co-ordinating the Team Boris campaign with the objective of securing funding and support for the Mayor’s charities.

Developed by the Mayor of London and his agencies, Prudential RideLondon promises to be a world-class festival of cycling set in the beautiful backdrop of the capital city.  The unique event combines fun and accessible elements of a free family ride in central London with the excitement of watching the world’s best professional cyclist’s race in the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic and Prudential RideLondon Grand Prix. Amateur cyclists will also participate in the Prudential Ride London-Surrey 100 to raise money for the Mayor’s Fund for London, The Legacy List and the Mayor of London’s Fund for Young Musicians.

Jackie Fast, Managing Director, Slingshot Sponsorship expressed ‘We are honoured to be tasked with the development and co-ordination of ‘Team Boris.’ Being based in London, it is sometimes hard to believe the extent of poverty that exists throughout the capital, the Mayor’s charities are engaging in some truly inspiring work and we are excited to explore exciting opportunities around Prudential Ride London to assist this cause.’

The Mayor’s Charities run a range of projects that will create 500 apprenticeships and other employment opportunities for local young people;  deliver 3,000 much-needed music grants to inspire young Londoners; provide 5,000 free breakfasts to hungry school kids; supply 400 reading volunteers to help children who are struggling and inspired over 3,000 school children with creative education projects connected to the Olympic Park – as well as supporting the capital’s most innovative arts organisations. These schemes ensure young Londoners achieve their full potential life, education, arts and music.

Please visit for more information and follow @TeamBorisLondon on Twitter for updates.

Game, Set and Match: My Top 3 Wimbledon Sponsorship Campaigns 20th June, 2013

In a few weeks another chapter of the greatest tennis tournament in the world will be written. Wimbledon is not just one of the most prestigious sporting events in the world, but also a very unique platform for sponsors, or as The All England Club calls them – suppliers.

So what is it that makes Wimbledon so different? Watching the matches on television you will realise that unlike the Premier League for example, no sponsor hoardings and perimeter advertising within the grounds of Wimbledon itself are currently allowed. You may spot Rolex next to the clock, Slazenger on the tennis balls or Ralph Lauren outfits worn by the ball kids, but these logos are only allowed on the items and services that the brands supply Wimbledon with. Despite those restrictions, Wimbledon is still exceptionally attractive to brands. Sponsors can use the association with this traditional event across their own marketing mixes.  In light of this, I’ve put together my top 3 Wimbledon sponsorship campaigns:

1. IBM at London Heathrow (2010 and 2011)

In order to raise awareness of IBM’s sponsorship of the Wimbledon Championships, IBM ran an innovative digital advertising campaign at one of the busiest international airports. Over 70 airport screens at London Heathrow were been programmed to select match updates and players most relevant to departing flights. “On average, passengers look at digital screens 99 times during their airport stay. The campaign supports IBM’s role in delivering real time player progress to Wimbledon fans at a time when they are unable to watch the match and want to keep in touch with the action”, stated JCDecaux’ Airport Marketing Director Steve Cox in an IBM press release. Thanks to the live updates IBM’s screens would have had a fair few more glances at the screens during the Wimbledon period. Check out the video summarizing this successful campaign.

2. Evian ball hunt (2012)

In 2012, Evian used its social media channels to engage with tennis fans offering them the chance to win VIP Wimbledon tickets. In their ‘Evian ball hunt’ campaign, which was supported by tennis star Maria Sharapova an Evian ball boy regularly revealed clues on the water suppliers Twitter and Facebook accounts. Followers chased him throughout London and once caught, the ball boy gave them a numbered Evian tennis ball. Each day one lucky number was chosen giving tennis fans the chance to be part of the action.

3.  Lavazza’s ‘We are the queue’ (2011)

Due to the aforementioned restrictions within the Wimbledon grounds, the famous Wimbledon queue, where people wait for up to 8 hours to get tickets, has become an increasingly important area for sponsors to showcase themselves. In 2011 Lavazza got it right. Through their ‘We are the queue’ campaign, the official coffee brand was not only serving coffee to patient tennis fans, but also made their queuing time worthwhile. Lavazza converted the area into a huge playground and relaxation bubble, where queuers could interact with games. A dedicated website and Facebook page as well as a smart phone application gave Lavazza the opportunity to engage with this key audience further. Check out the video footage of this amazing campaign here.

Slingshot Helps Digitally Excluded People to Spring Online 29th April, 2013

On Friday 26 April, Slingshot hosted our very own Spring Online event, “Slingshot’s Online Skills for Beginners.”

Spring Online in association with Carphone Warehouse takes place every year between 22–26 April and is an award-winning campaign that provides a unique platform to help people understand, explore and enjoy digital technology. The campaign encourages residents to throw open their doors and hold free digital taster events for their local communities; all with the aim of helping thousands of older people and other less confident users take their first steps online.

The Slingshot team worked together to get people down to our Spring Online event. The team visited local care homes, housing associations and doctor’s surgeries, posted flyers in coffee shops and publicised the event via Spring Online’s media partner Streetlife, an online platform for local communities.

On the afternoon of Friday 26 April, Slingshot’s offices were bursting at the seams with attendees learning how to set up their own email accounts, exploring the wonders of shopping online and singing along to their favourite artists such as Tony Bennett and One Direction on YouTube!

One attendee, who had been given an iPad by her Grandchildren but had little knowledge of how to use it, enjoyed the event so much she asked whether she could attend every Friday and nearly all of the attendees asked where they could buy a computer.

My Grandchildren gave me an iPad for Christmas and I have hardly used it. Today I have learnt to shop online, download cooking apps and I am so excited to go home and play games. I can’t thank you enough Slingshot!

Slingshot is the exclusive sponsorship agency for Spring Online which is supported by Headline Sponsors Carphone Warehouse and Supporting Sponsors BMI Healthcare and Marks & Spencer. To find out more about Spring online and its sponsors click here.

Big Brands Do Small Sponsorship 11th June, 2012

Brands become involved with sponsorship for a variety of reasons – to create awareness, to raise credibility, or to improve people’s perceptions of the brand as a whole.  The most notable sponsorship deals grace the front covers of our national papers providing the appearance that global brands only sponsor large properties such as the Olympics, UEFA, and Premier League Football.  However, this is not always the case.

Brands such as Adidas and Orange supplement their larger sponsorship properties with community partnerships helping them solidify their positioning and also strengthening the potential for advocacy through closer engagement.

Adidas Women’s 5K Challenge

The Adidas Women’s 5K challenge although still a relatively large event with 20,000 participants is a great example of a smaller partnership intended to raise perceptions of the brand through focusing on the female consumer. Although unisex, Adidas as a sports brand is more readily associated with a male audience particularly because of its association with male-orientated events highly publicised in the news such as UEFA.

For this reason, Adidas’s sponsorship of the Women’s 5K Challenge was a successful sponsorship strategy for the brand for a number of reasons:

  • The focus on a solely female audience helped position the importance of women as consumers
  • It created an emotion tie-in, touching on the heart strings of the female audience through the event’s charity support of Breakthrough Breast Cancer
  • Exclusive naming rights ensured that Adidas stood out from its competitors

Orange Sponsors Swanswell’s Football Kit

Swanswell is a charity that works to help people overcome drug and alcohol addiction. Quite different from sponsoring one of the days a week – Orange Wednesdays – Orange supported the Swanswell five-a-side tournament by sponsoring their football kit for the season.

Trevor Bedford operations manager for Swanswell in Birmingham said:

We’re delighted that Orange has been able to sponsor our new kit, giving people an added incentive to do well and feel well.

Orange’s support for a charity such as Swanswell is beneficial to the brand for various reasons:

  • Small gesture, but creates association with Orange as a brand that cares about the individual as well as community
  • Larger issues that are important and relevant to society as a whole through affiliation with the national charity Swanswell
  • Orange becomes a more approachable brand from a consumer’s perspective –  not just focused on targeting a mass audience
  • Brand differentiation and a change from their typical film sponsorship

Orange and Adidas are a few of many examples of big brands doing small sponsorship well.  We hope to see more of it!

Mencap Announces ASUS as Headline Sponsor of Little Noise Sessions 2011 6th October, 2011

Mencap’s Little Noise Sessions
curated by Mencap ambassador Jo Whiley, will see its first year partnering with new headline sponsor, ASUS – a deal which was secured by Slingshot Sponsorship.

Having been dubbed some of the most ‘sought-after tickets in London’ by Clash magazine, the sponsorship is an exciting prospect for Asus customers, with promotions set to include an impressive range of exclusive prizes.

Mencap’s Little Noise Sessions 2011

Mencap’s Little Noise Sessions are back with a bang for the 6th year running – and there’s definitely nothing little about 2011’s lineup!  Taking residency in their new home, the iconic church St John-at-Hackney, this is going to be an unmissable set of shows!  Kicking off the opening night with an almighty headline performance are Mercury and BRIT award winners Elbow.  Join Mencap from 22 – 27 November to celebrate a week of simply stunning gigs in aid of learning disability charity Mencap. Tickets go on general release from 10 October with an exclusive presale for subscribers from 7 October. Sure to sell out fast so subscribe NOW at

Elbow front-man Guy Garvey said:

We are dead proud to be added to the list of amazing bands that have done the Little Noise Sessions for Jo Whiley and Mencap. In fact we have organised a warm up tour of Europe before the show to make sure we are in tip top condition when we play!

Additional headliners throughout the week will include Marina & The Diamonds, Goldfrapp, Example and Sinéad O’Connor plus a whole host of established and up and coming supporting acts.

Mencap ambassador Jo Whiley said:

Mencap’s Little Noise Sessions are back for the 6th successful year and we’re excited to be moving to St John-at Hackney – a venue that in its 700 year history has never played host to a music gig like this! Each year we aim to surprise and inspire the audience, with a week of unbelievable shows coupled with a simply stunning backdrop. See you there!

Ellie Gray, Mencap’s Director of Fundraising said:

We are delighted to have such a great line up for Mencap’s 6th Little Noise Sessions and we are really grateful for all of the artists who have given their free time for this really important cause.  The money raised will help Mencap support people with a learning disability, who are amongst the most marginalised in our society.

Subscribers to the Little Noise Sessions website have exclusive access to a host of great content including; priority ticketing, backstage footage, audio, photos and all the latest news from the Little Noise backstage blog, for just £6 for six months. Subscription fees will go directly to Mencap – helping raise vital funds for the 1.5 million people in UK with a learning disability.

To keep up to date with all the latest information on Mencap’s Little Noise Sessions follow them on Twitter @Little_Noise or check them out on Facebook.

The Line-Up So Far

  • OPENING NIGHT – Elbow, Maverick Sabre solo performance
  • WEDNESDAY 23 NOVEMBER – Marina & The Diamonds, Icona Pop, Spark
  • FRIDAY 25 NOVEMBER – Goldfrapp, Alpines + more
  • SATURDAY 26 NOVEMBER – Example, Ed Sheeran, Birdy, Fenech Soler
  • SUNDAY 27 NOVEMBER – Sinead O’Connor, King Creosote + more

About Mencap

Mencap supports the 1.5 million people with a learning disability in the UK and their families and carers. Mencap fights to change laws and improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities, supporting thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want.  We are also one of the largest providers of services, information and advice for people with a learning disability across England, Northern Ireland and Wales.

See for more information.

About ASUS

ASUS, the world’s top 3 consumer notebook vendor and the maker of the world’s best-selling and most award winning motherboards, is a leading enterprise in the new digital era. ASUS designs and manufactures products that perfectly meet the needs of today’s digital home, office and person, with a broad portfolio that includes motherboards, graphics cards, displays, desktop PCs, notebooks, netbooks, servers, multimedia, wireless solutions, networking devices and mobile phones. Driven by innovation and committed to quality, ASUS won 3398 awards in 2010, and is widely credited with revolutionizing the PC industry with the Eee PC™. With a global staff of more than 10,000 and a world-class R&D team of 3000 engineers, the company’s revenue for 2010 was around US$10.1 billion.

“We Have a Great Cause, Why Aren’t We Securing Sponsors?” 4th April, 2011

Charity Sponsorship: Top 3 Reasons Why You Aren’t Selling

I am often asked to provide consultancy to charities on how they can make their sponsorship propositions more attractive to brands.  The charities are often well known and have great causes – with well-planned and well-attended events.  Understandably, it’s difficult to understand why more brands aren’t getting involved. 

After experience and investigation with a number of our charity clients, I’ve discovered that there are some very simple tips to help make charity sponsorship proposals more attractive to secure sales.

1.  Is your sponsorship package worth what you are asking? 

Just because you need a certain amount, that doesn’t mean that your package is worth that amount.  Far too often I see sponsorship proposals that are clearly not valued based on their tangible benefits.  Of course there is a certain amount of association with the charity that is ‘priceless’, but this is not the sole (or even usually the key) reason marketing directors will align their brand to your cause.  However, the weight of sponsorship investment is assumed to be the majority of the charity association with media assets such as PR and print ads ‘thrown in’.  This is definitely not the approach to take when putting together your sponsorship proposition.  Marketing directors are a savvy bunch and they want to see tangible benefits to prove effectiveness.  Which brings me to my second point…

2.  Marketing directors are busy

Marketing directors receive thousands of proposals, opportunities, and ideas that they can choose from to promote their brand.  Your sponsorship proposal is not only competing with other charity proposals, but also all the other available marketing platforms that the brand can align themself to.  It is a cluttered market and you have to be clear and transparent.  Although beautiful powerpoint presentations with great pictures tend to look great – they make for impractical sponsorship proposals. 

Of course the sponsorship proposal will depend on your programme as this format can be effective for selling emotive campaigns.  However, more often than not, it is rarely the most suitable option.

3.  Make more time

Charities tend to work with limited resources and find it difficult to put all the plans in place well in advance.  As such, they don’t start approaching sponsors until they have all of the event information confirmed – typically 3 months before the event takes place.  This is typically the time they think it is appropriate to approach sponsors.

Although the event could be absolutely ideal for a brand’s positioning and objectives, very few brands have spare funds within their marketing budget or the additional resource to make use of the opportunity.  Marketing budgets are typically planned at least 1 year in advance.  Regardless of how much they may want to get involved, they will not have the budget to do so. 

As such, charities need to either:

a) start working on the events plan earlier,

b) start approaching brands earlier, or

c) aim to only secure sponsorship for the annual events that have a clear direction and plan in place.

We have recently signed some great charity clients (such as Mencap) and will be blogging more charity sponsorship tips throughout the year.  Make sure to check back often or subscribe to our newsletter so you don’t miss anything!