January 18, 2011

events, more events, and sponsorships, oh my!

As the Development and Communications Officer here at the Literacy Coalition, I am always thinking about how this organization can creatively bring in more income.  As many of you know, we are seeing a huge expansion this year!!  (For those of you that didn't know that, here are some details: We are bringing two national programs to Austin! The Learner Web and Literacy*AmeriCorps!)  But, in order for all of that to go smoothly and eventually stabilize, our income must grow, and that's where I come in.  Today, I'm going to talk a little about events & sponsorships and how those things can bring in money for your organization.

1) Events.  Back in October, I blogged about the Literacy Coalition's events and gave you all some practical questions to ask yourselves before you and your organization embarked on a new event.  It was all good advice and we actually thought through the events we had in place and have changed some things up.  Our Happy Bees have taken off and are still going strong every 1st Tuesday of each month, however our monthly 'get to know us' events have been put on hold.  A lot of factors played into those decisions, and the biggest one for you to consider should by 'Who are you trying to reach?'  Without knowing this, you'll embark on a huge project and end up disappointed when you don't get the results you want.

Right now, our focus is on our Great Grown-Up Spelling Bee for Literacy on April 28th!  (If YOU are interested in participating, reply to this blog post!)  But it's not just the event itself that we're planning for... we are slaving over securing sponsorships!

2) Sponsorships.  Sponsorships are a great way to earn money for your cause while also connecting with local businesses!  By offering some sponsorship benefits in return, you can provide a business with great visibility.  For example, we choose to recognize our 'presenting sponsors' by placing their logo and a 'thanks' on the front page of our website.  (*Very Important: Make sure you know the rules and UBIT laws about what you can provide tax-free in return for sponsorship dollars!!  Consult an attorney to make sure you are abiding by the laws!) 

Also, don't think soliciting sponsors will be a piece of cake... just like a grant proposal, you will want to approach sponsors with the mind-set of getting them involved with your organization/cause/work.  Some businesses won't see your sponsorship benefits as that great of a deal, but it's not really all about that.  Sponsorship is a chance for a business to put their name on something for a good cause - you still have to cultivate and steward those relationships!  (Hint: Businesses don't want to contribute to an event that only yields 15% profit... they want to know that their money is actually going to help your organization, not just pay for the event!)  And follow-up is a must - let those sponsors know what you are doing with their money and how it's having a positive impact on the community!  By keeping them in the loop, you'll keep them coming back for more sponsorships in the future.

My advice to you is to get creative!  Do you have any stories to share about events and sponsorships? Reply below and let us know!  I'd love to hear your personal stories!

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