Friday, July 30, 2010

The Changing Face of Sponsorship

We often get asked to consult on the wide world of sponsorship.

Sponsorships help generate long-term health and possibility for non-profit organizations. And at its core, sponsorship is about relationships.

People talking to people, which generates people giving to people.

Stories of the work we do and who we help are the hooks that generate the emotional connections that turn into financial support. But how we continue to address these relationships with donors, cultivating them over time, is the most important work we can do.

Donors want to be more involved than just signing a check and receiving a form letter in return.

In the great magazine, Fundraising Success, Katya Andresen touches on this point when making a list of changes to make for online fundraising. However, her point reaches much farther than just online:

“Rethink and restructure your donor relationships. The biggest thing that needs to change this year is how we think about our donors. We are in the midst of an enormous generational shift that has major implications for our work. The greatest generation of older, civic-minded Americans who write checks out of a sense of duty and expect little more than a tax receipt in return is passing the torch to a far more demanding series of successors.

Boomers expect a sense of impact, and younger donors expect engagement and involvement. They are anything but passive. Think of it this way: Just as in marketing we have left the broadcast era where consumers passively take in promotional messages, we have left the low-expectation donor era.

That means it’s not enough to declare a need and send a thank-you. Today’s supporters increasingly expect engagement that makes them feel seen, heard and involved. They are not walking wallets or ATM machines. They are partners who expect relationships with the organizations they support. They want to be talked to as individuals, thanked and updated.

This is especially true online. With most of what we do online—Facebook, Foursquare, gaming, etc.—being highly personal and extremely interactive, we have to provide a more intimate and involved experience for our supporters with our technological tools. Otherwise, we will alienate nearly everyone.”

Have regular, engaging contact with donors—using the tools they do—and everyone can feel the benefit.