Yes, you can apply for corporate sponsorships. Sponsorships are payments made by businesses with no expectation of receiving any substantial benefit in return for the payment, with the exception of brand promotion. Corporate sponsorship is a definitely a type of fundraising worthy of exploration.
How do we find corporate sponsors?
Corporate sponsors tend to focus on geographic areas or target populations that are relevant to their business mission and brand. Search for businesses that are local to or directly relevant to your community, or that could have a connection to your issue area (i.e. a program that teaches coding could reach out to a computer company.) While you may look to large, national corporations (such as Target), don't forget to add local, independent businesses to your list.
Some corporations give directly while others provide sponsorships through a corporate foundation. Others might manage sponsorships through a corporate affairs division, a community outreach program, office of corporate social responsibility, or marketing department. Keep in mind that not all corporate sponsors give monetary sponsorships. It's a good idea to approach some for financial support and others for in-kind giving.
As with all fundraising, relationships are often key in obtaining corporate sponsorships. Some of the best connections can come from advisory board members, volunteers, clients, or friends of your project who work at a company that does corporate giving or can provide cash or in-kind support.
How do we apply for corporate sponsorships?
Applying for corporate sponsors is often similar to applying for a grant. There may be an application or a form that needs to be completed. If you are submitting a proposal, please follow the same procedures as if you are applying for a grant. If an application or a form is required, please inform your program liaison so they are aware you applied.
What do we need to know about corporate sponsorships?
Sponsorship dollars are not subject to unrelated business income tax (UBIT). It is typical practice for a corporation to request brand promotion in return for their contribution, often through the placement of logos, name credit, product display and distribution. It's important to remember that the project - not the corporation - should decide how the brand is promoted. It's probably best to establish that as part of any agreement.
One example of a sponsorship arrangement is when a business fundraises for your project by donating a percentage of their sales of certain items or from sales on certain days. This could be promoted on your website, via direct email, or on social media.
Please keep in mind that Community Partners does not allow fundraising through the sale of advertising. Revenue from advertising is subject to UBIT, unless the activities involved are substantially related to your project’s tax-exempt purpose. The IRS defines advertisements as including qualitative or comparative language, price information, or other indications of savings or value, and endorsements or inducements to buy, sell, or use products or services. Contact your program liaison if you have questions about this or other forms of sponsorship.