A reader recently sent an email with the following questions:
I am working on gathering a group or pros to work with a non-profit organization dealing with go green concerns.
- Are there companies/sponsors willing to invest monthly capital for community involvement projects? How should I present the project idea to these potential investors?
- How am I able to acquire media exposure for the project w/o paying too much?
- Should incorporating be essential before approaching co’s for this projects?
This covers a broad range from finding sponsors to operating as a non-profit to marketing which I’ll cover from a topline perspective…
In response to the question about companies willing to invest monthly capital for community involvement projects, the answer is yes. Most major corporations have public relations departments that also work on community relations – their key focus is to ensure they are good partners in the communities they operate in. Many also have philanthropic departments that deal with charitable contributions. Not knowing much about your project, it may even be considered a marketing sponsorship in which case it goes through another department altogether. Since every company operates differently, you’re going to have to do a lot of cold-calling to get to the right person. It’s best to brainstorm a list of potential partners, starting with companies you think are a natural fit with your project (e.g. home improvement retailers or construction companies to tie into Habitat for Humanity). Then have a brief outline of your project developed so you can talk to the people in the companies. A few things they’ll want to know are:
What is the overall concept?
Why should they get involved?
What are the benefits to them?
What are the costs?
You may already have all of this developed. If so, great — get going. If not, then it may take a few calls for you to refine your approach based on the feedback you’re getting.
In terms of acquiring media exposure, the best way to approach this is through a targeted public relations campaign — it’s free, except for the time in creating press materials which, can be as simple as writing a press release. For a small investment, you can hire a public relations consultant (make sure they have media relations background) and they can craft the press materials and use their media lists to target the appropriate contacts in the appropriate media. You can also develop media partnerships — these media partners become sponsors of your project and help promote it in print or on the air. If you’re going to go this route, then you have to give them something in return such as signage at events, access to your database, etc. It’s such a cutthroat world out there, a lot of mainstream media will only partner with you if you’re purchasing space or time in their media.
Finally, do you have to incorporate? Unfortunately, I don’t have enough information to offer advice on this subject since incorporating takes you down a whole different path than operating as a non-profit 501C3 charitable organization.
AllBusiness has some general articles about incorporating and finding investors that will give you a little more background: