I’m regularly approached by charities for sponsorship of shows and other events. I’ve been trading since 2007 and, eight years on, I have developed a sense of what I will and will not support.
Let me explain.
Sponsorship, from the smallest company to the largest, must match the goals and values of the sponsor and the receiver. Where there is a mis-match, either one party or the other loses out.
Dog shows, for example, are often looking for products for their prize packs. It’s an ‘easy win’ for a large company to provide bags of food and get their name onto a show program and in front of dog owners. The recipients of these prize packs get something for free and there’s little loyalty involved. They may never buy from the company involved again and the large corporate sponsor doesn’t mind because their goal was simply name recognition.
The same is typically not true for products and services provided by smaller businesses. These businesses need something reciprocal in order to grow and to afford sponsorship in the future. These businesses may donate to a cause one year, but if they receive no response from your members during the year, they are unlikely to consider sponsorship of benefit to them.
For my business, as an example, I am looking for an on-going link to the groups I support. I am happy to provide my time and services if I feel that people will direct their business to me in the future. I have a keen interest in helping rescue dogs, for example. I get great personal satisfaction from helping dogs in need and when they are adopted, some come back to me as clients.
I rent space from a local training club, for example. They give me a good rate but in return they get advertising by me bringing other dog owners to their property. I also acknowledge their support when promoting the workshops I hold there. Win-win.
This weekend, I sponsored a garage sale. I did all of the promotion for the event and took time out of my business to seek donations of goods from my clients and from like-minded businesses I deal with. The benefactor was Greyhounds as Pets (GAP), a charity that works to re-home retired racing greyhounds.
I believe in this cause because my Izzy is a greyhound who came from GAP just over a year ago. But, more importantly, I get support from the other volunteers in this group. They recommend me to friends, buy products from my company, and some have registered for a special massage workshop for greyhounds that I am holding. It’s another case of win-win.
So my plea to rescue groups and other charities is to think about the owner-operated businesses in your area. What can they do for you but also what can you do for them?
Corporate sponsorship is a different model when dealing with a smaller business and it’s based on relationships. Please don’t approach us for ‘free stuff’ without offering anything in return.
Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand