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Funding your Pride: Sponsors 101

Leading a nonprofit organization can be a rewarding and meaningful experience. But don't let the "nonprofit" moniker fool you — nonprofit organizations, like any other, require funding to be successful. Securing sponsors is one of several ways to ensure your organization has the necessary funds and resources required to fulfill your mission.

Pride groups are most often organized as nonprofit organizations, and just like all other nonprofits, raising money and securing sponsorships can take time. If done right and with thought and intention, you can grow your resources to better serve your local community.

If you've never reached out to get sponsor support or you're still new to the game, working with sponsors can feel daunting or intimidating. Fundraising, either through event-based fundraising or though sponsorship, is like an art form. The more you practice the craft of sponsor recruitment and engagement, the better you will be.

USAP has pulled together some tips and ideas as you explore ways to fund your Pride:

Identify potential sponsors:

Start by sitting down with your team and making a list of local businesses and organizations that might be interested in supporting your event or organization. Consider businesses that align with your mission or values, or that have a history of supporting LGBTQ groups and other nonprofits in your community. (Check out the Human Rights Campaign's Employer Database to review larger companies' track record on LGBTQ equality.) The types and sizes of businesses that make it on your list will vary from city to city. Some communities have very large, corporate businesses. Smaller communities may have to rely on locally-owned and small businesses. Once you have an idea of what kinds of businesses you might solicit, you'll be better able to identify what kind of sponsorships you will offer.

Create a sponsorship package:

Once you have identified your potential sponsors and have a general idea of what kind of support they can offer, you can then create a sponsorship package that outlines the benefits of supporting your event or organization. Your sponsorship package can be designed into a simple Word document or made into a sleek slide deck or brochure. Your sponsor package should include basic information about your organization, your group's mission, the purpose of any event(s) you host, and the various ways sponsors can support you. Be sure to highlight the benefits of sponsorship, such as exposure to a targeted audience or the opportunity to support a worthy cause.

Offer strong sponsor benefits:

Many businesses are interested in sponsoring events as a way to promote their products or services. Consider offering marketing opportunities to potential sponsors, such as the ability to distribute flyers or samples at your event, or to include their logo on promotional materials. If you're hosting a Pride festival, you can also include complimentary vendor spaces or booths for sponsors at a certain level or higher.

Offer different levels of sponsorship:

Speaking of sponsor benefits: Get creative and think of a wide variety of sponsor levels with different benefits depending on a sponsor's generosity. For example, you might offer a platinum level for larger sponsors, a gold level for mid-sized sponsors, and a silver level for smaller sponsors. Offering differently priced and sized sponsor levels can help you appeal to a wider range of businesses.

Personalize your outreach:

When it comes time to start reaching out to your potential sponsors, be sure personalize your approach. Offer to meet with them in person to discuss the details of your event and the benefits of sponsorship. Try to find what motivates your potential sponsor and explain how their support can be translated into supporting their own goals. For example, does your potential sponsor value face-to-face interactions with potential new customers? If so, explain how their sponsorship will enable them to have a complimentary vendor or exhibit space at your event.

Utilize your network:

Don't be afraid to reach out to your personal and professional network for help finding sponsors. Share information about your event and the benefits of sponsorship with friends, family, colleagues, and any other connections you have. If you're reaching out to larger corporations, identify friends and colleagues who might be involved in a larger company's LGBTQ employee group, which might be able to connect you with the right folks who can talk about sponsorship.

Be persistent and patient:

Don't be discouraged if you don't hear back from all of your potential sponsors. It can take time to secure sponsors, and you may need to follow up multiple times. Be persistent, but also be respectful of their time and decision-making process. You should also be patient with and grateful for new sponsors coming in at lower levels. Show them care and appreciation and, over time, they may grow their contributions to larger levels.

Look for in-kind sponsors:

In addition to monetary sponsors, consider looking for in-kind sponsors who can donate goods or services to your event. This could include food and beverages, decorations, printing, or other items that you would otherwise need to purchase.

Partner with other organizations:

Consider partnering with other non-profits or community organizations to co-host your event. This can help to broaden your reach and potentially attract more sponsors. Be mindful that partnering with other organizations also means you will also split any funds raised as a result of that partnership. Be sure to discuss the plan for splitting revenue with your partnering organization before beginning planning.

Turn event attendees into "sponsors":

Consider offering "sponsorship" opportunities to attendees who may be interested in supporting your event. For example, you could offer a VIP package that includes exclusive access to the event, merchandise, and other perks. This is a great way to raise additional funds from individuals, who likely don't have the same resources as small businesses or larger companies. In some circumstances, you may already be offering some kind of VIP package to your sponsors, so opening VIP ticket purchases to the public can not only raise additional funds, but also assist with offsetting the cost of the VIP activities you've already planned.

Follow up with sponsors:

Following up with your sponsors is among the most meaningful ways you can leave a long-lasting, positive impression with them. After you have secured a sponsor, be sure to follow up with them to thank them for their support and keep them updated on the progress of your event. Sponsors who feel like a part of the team will be more likely to continue or increase their support in the future. Be sure to follow up with sponsors after an event is over, too. Provide them notes of thanks and a follow-up report on the impact of your event or other activities/programs they have supported.

Are you a Pride organizer?

Are you a new Pride organizer? Or, perhaps you're a seasoned Pride veteran, but you've never heard of USAP or InterPride? Learn more about the benefits of membership with the premier national organization serving Pride organizers in the United States. One application. One fee. Two memberships. Join a national and international family of Pride!

Portions of this article were generated with the assistance of AI, with additions, revisions, and editing performed by a human writer.


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