Advice about asking for money for a non-profit
November 14, 2017 2:30 AM   Subscribe

I need some help figuring out how to ask people I've never met at a certain company for money.

I work for a small arts festival. We are looking for community sponsorship, and I want to approach a small company that makes a product in a closely related field to see if they might be interested in sponsoring some fellowships. These fellowships would cover festival tuition specifically for students from a underrepresented group. One of the founders of this company is a member of this underrepresented group, and so I think it would be a good fit, sponsorship-wise.
I don't have any experience, really, with asking people and/or companies for money. I'm not sure what are important talking points in this situation, nor do I really know how to get started. Email? Phone? Ask for an in-person meeting? Should I offer some means of promoting this company at the festival? If you were the CEO of Small Company X that makes B Widgets, what would make you excited about giving money to artists working with B(1)? I am generally really bad at selling things, even things I care about deeply, and so any advice is most welcome.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (6 answers total)
As the CEO of a small company, I don't expect that sponsoring this festival would generate any addditional income for me nor would I necessarily be interested in your particular cause because there are already so many. So my initial response would be no.

However, if the person selling the project can convey the passion and enthusiasm that made them espouse the cause in the first place, or if someone I knew recommended you, then I might be swayed.

As for how exactly to do it, just Google "how to raise money"
posted by Kwadeng at 2:46 AM on November 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

Are you a member of this underrepresented group? Is there a group member who is friendly and smart who is able to approach this person for you?
posted by amtho at 3:23 AM on November 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

This type of thing is usually accompanied by a formal sponsorship request - i.e., some document that includes how much money is being requested and listing the benefits that the sponsor might get.

This would potentially include:

- Logo inclusion on all promotions/signs/websites/etc.
- Speaking opportunities for the sponsor to get some exposure for their donation on stage.
- # of free tickets/festival passes.
- Opportunities for photo ops/meet-and-greets with any key people in the festival.

Typically, orgs receive a lot of pitches if they're of a size/scale so looking like you have thought out the partnership past "this makes sense for you" will help you secure their involvement.
posted by notorious medium at 7:47 AM on November 14, 2017

I work parallel to the people that do this type of asking in my org. If one of your board members or a major donor knows the CEO, I would use that connection to get a meeting. If not, I would email the CEO and ask for an in-person meeting to talk about sponsorship of small arts festival. Are the people attending the festival the company's customers? If so, that's really great and I would highlight that too, along with whatever recognition opportunities that are available for the company at the meeting. And have an idea of how much you need from the company: 'If we have x amount, we could do x. If we had x*2, we could then do x*2." Good luck!
posted by pumpkinlatte at 8:19 AM on November 14, 2017

One thing to keep in mind as you go through this process -- companies generally do not donate out of the goodness of their hearts, regardless of individual proclivities. Donations to non-profits by for-profit companies are essentially a marketing expense. (See notorious medium's answer above).

They want the benefits of their logo / branding being seen by people (who will hopefully become customers), plus other perks. If you can demonstrate that your project will get them in front of their target audience, that helps a lot. Even better if you (or a coworker) also have a personal connection to a high-level executive who will be a supporting voice when they confer with their board of directors about spending that money.
posted by ananci at 12:17 PM on November 14, 2017

One of the founders of this company is a member of this underrepresented group, and so I think it would be a good fit, sponsorship-wise.

I am not in your line of work and thus no expert, but I would be leery about tying this in unless the founder himself/herself brings it up. Presumably you don't know how the person in question feels about being a member of this underrepresented group or how relevant the founder considers it to be to his/her work or sense of self. I think it is unwise to make any assumptions about this.
posted by honey wheat at 10:03 AM on November 16, 2017

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