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NPD Sponsorship Information and Guidance

May 10, 2008

Sponsorships are an increasingly important part of chapters’ revenue streams, especially for their National Philanthropy Day® (NPD) celebrations.

In response to chapter inquiries, AFP International Headquarters has collected the following guidance and tips from chapters and other sources that can be helpful as chapters develop sponsorship strategies for their events. While this guidance is focused on NPD, it can be applied to other events as well.

In addition to the guidance below, AFP has collected samples of various chapter sponsorship materials. Click on the links below to see these samples from each chapter (all in PDF format).

If you would like to submit your chapter’s materials for inclusion on the website, please email documents to paffairs@afpnet.org.

AFP Ohio, Greater Cleveland Chapter

AFP California, Silicon Valley Chapter

AFP Pennsylvania, Eastern Chapter

AFP Florida, Big Bend Chapter

Sponsorship Guidance and Tips

Don’t underestimate the value that AFP and its chapters bring to the sponsor. Chapters add a lot of value, especially with regards to the positioning and branding organizations gain from partnering with the largest association of fundraisers in the world that is dedicated to ethical and effective fundraising. In addition to local awareness and publicity that sponsors may receive, AFP IHQ conducts a significant amount of public relations and marketing with regards to NPD. For example, the NPD international website (www.nationalphilanthropyday.org) is an opportunity for local sponsors to gain more recognition, and AFP’s international media efforts also increase visibility. These are benefits that chapters should explain and include in the value of the sponsorships they offer.

Identifying possible sponsors. Know who is in the community, and take a comprehensive inventory of everyone the chapter interacts with or knows in any capacity: vendors, associates, banks, foundations, etc. Some chapters are unsure about contacting previous award winners for money and sponsorships because they do not want to be perceived as rude or ungracious. However, most chapters with successful sponsorship programs have approached previous winners in some fashion (perhaps not immediately after winning, but a couple of years down the road).

Multi-year sponsorships. AFP IHQ now only offers multi-year sponsorships, and most chapters are moving towards this as well. It can be difficult enough arranging sponsorships, especially with NPD and sponsorship chairs changing annually, without having to go back to sponsors every year to get their support. Multi-year sponsorships ensure consistent support and encourage continued and strong partnerships, while annual sponsorships are often subject to short fluctuations in the economy or other factors. Three years seems to be a standard amount of time, although some chapters and AFP IHQ offer five-year sponsorships. If sponsors are reluctant to commit to multi-year agreements, make sure your one-year pricing option reflects the additional work that will be required.

Sponsorship naming. There seems to be no consistent naming convention when it comes to sponsorships, especially with regards to awards. Some chapters use the “AFP Award Name, sponsored by” format. AFP IHQ has moved to a format whereby the sponsor’s name is included in the award (e.g., Campbell and Company Awards for Excellence in Fundraising). Because the award is given at an association event that already contains sufficient AFP identification and branding, and is always referenced in relation to AFP's own awards programs, including the sponsor’s name is a way to give the sponsor greater value and awareness while not diluting AFP’s own marketing efforts.

Conflicts between chapters and members’ organizations approaching the same sponsor. One chapter avoids this problem by identifying its key NPD sponsors at the beginning of the year and informing members of those potential sponsors. Members then can approach them later in the year after NPD. Another way to avoid the problem is to focus on the brand of the event. NPD is not just a chapter event, but a community event celebrating philanthropy that involves every group. NPD does not pit chapters against charities, but rather seeks to be inclusive of everyone. All organizations (for-profit and nonprofit) should get involved because it is the event for celebrating philanthropy in the community. In several chapters individual charitable organizations are encouraged to market their own brands during NPD events by purchasing tables; honoring their own volunteer or donor of the year; or making a commitment to always nominate someone affiliated with their organization and host that person regardless of whether they are the final recipient or not.

Program ads: A few chapters offer the opportunity for organizations to place ads in their NPD program, and several have raised significant revenue this way. These ads are not the typical commercial appeals, but rather are positioned as a way the advertiser can say “thank you” to particular donors, volunteers or the entire community. One chapter refers to their ad program as “Expressions from the Heart.”

More Sponsorship Ideas—Nuts and Bolts

  • Invite corporations and local businesses to not only buy and/or sponsor tables, but offer to recognize a special guest of their choosing for his or her charitable work (usually an employee or board member of the company).  This type of “corporate table” program has resulted in large increases in attendance for some chapters.
  • Run a similar table program for charities, associations and other nonprofit organizations.  Offer to recognize one of their guests (often a volunteer or trustee) in a special “honor roll of philanthropy” or other list that can be promoted in your event program, chapter newsletter, website and/or NPD materials.
  • Invite a company or organization to sponsor one of the awards that the chapter is presenting during the event.  The sponsors would be on stage with chapter leaders and help present the award. 
  • If a foundation is interested in sponsoring the event, offer to allow them to announce one or two of their grant awards during the presentations.  This is can be especially exciting if the grant is related to an important community issue.
  • Organizations that have relationships with your award winners should be targeted for sponsorships and/or special table packages.
  • Previous award winners, especially corporations or philanthropists, may be interested in sponsoring your NPD event.  They should always be invited back to your events and briefly recognized, if time permits. This may increase interest in sponsorship opportunities in the future.
  • Consultants and vendors that serve the nonprofit sector may be interested in purchasing vendor packages that provide them with space to promote their services to your audience.
  • Many chapters have their events sponsored by a local media outlet, typically a newspaper or business journal.  Chapters can receive a lot of free publicity through these types of partnerships. However, the amount of publicity chapters receive, and what chapters have to do as part of the sponsorship deal, can vary greatly. AFP encourages chapters to let the staff at AFP's International Headquarters review potential sponsorship deals with media outlets, as we have helped several chapters receive better deals. 

All chapters, regardless of size, are encouraged to submit their sponsorship program or other materials for AFP to post on the association website. Email materials to paffairs@afpnet.org.

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