What's In It For Me?
March 7, 2008 2:28 PM   Subscribe

What could I offer my sponsors/donors in return for sponsorship?

I'm fundraising for an educational venture, and I'm thinking of different things I can offer in return for sponsorship. As I am a sole young person who's trying to get to school, I don't really have anything like free art or film credits or anything of the sort. All I can think of:

* Eternal gratitude
* Writeups on my blogs
* Thank-you events
* Regular updates
* Short-term consulting (since my are of study would be entrepreneurship and business design)

What else could I offer? I write well and like to do things to help people. I'm a novice at crafts/arts (though they aren't directly relevant to my pursuit). Whenever I ask my dad what people would like in return for their investments, he always says "Money" - which is what I don't have (otherwise I won't be asking this question!).

I've heard of people who got people to buy "shares" in their venture. Crowdfunding sounds like a great idea; however, I don't know how it'd work if you don't have a product to fund. What have other people offered in return for sponsorship/investments? Crazy is good but realistic is best.
posted by divabat to Work & Money (3 answers total)
What is your venture? If you're going to have some sort of audience, I would think that giving your sponsors brand presence or a branded email that you send on their behalf would be of value.

If it's just you and there's no audience, I think some sort of work exchange would be a good idea. Consulting or other short-term projects could work. Or an unpaid internship if you only had 1-2 sponsors.

It's hard to know what would be of value without knowing what the venture is. It could be anything from them funding your graduate degree to you opening up the "Divabat School For Kids Who Can't Read Good And Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too."

The answers are sort of dependent on learning more about what you're wanting them to fund and even who you are trying to target (so we'll know what might be of value to them).
posted by ml98tu at 2:48 PM on March 7, 2008

Response by poster: ml98tu: I'm trying to raise funds to afford being a student at the KaosPilots social enterprise school in Denmark. I'm hoping to use the skills and networks learned in my KP education towards developing youth empowerment and cultural diversity programs in my region.
posted by divabat at 3:21 PM on March 7, 2008

Best answer: I do quite a bit of fund development for different agencies. By far the hardest donations for me request are for my Team in Training events which benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. If I need to ask a corporation for $25K to benefit Children's Hospital - no problem. When I need to ask friends for a few bucks to sponsor me to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society - panic-city. When it feels as though I'm asking for me, it's much, much harder.

After years of requesting donations. I've learned that people donate for a few reasons:
- tax benefits (not going to work your need),
- guilt (don't use this) or
- because they understand the cause, believe in it AND feel connected to it (this is your sweet spot).

You asked about creating incentives to donate, but I think that's the wrong direction. With the possible exclusion of PBS pledges, people rarely donate to get something tangible. An incentive may convert someone to donate if they are on the fence, but an incentive won't get someone to donate if they weren't inclined to do so. Instead of offering incentives, make people feel connected to what you're trying to do. Help people feel your connection to the cause. You want people to understand why you think this is a worthwhile investment for your time and their resources.

Warning: I'm gonna get self linky as an example. I try to make people feel connected to the cause in two ways. First, I talk about the Leukemia & Lymphoma on my blog. This was a big decision for me, because I don't blog to milk money out of people. However, the cause is so personal for me, not mentioning it would be fake. It's why I train. An example of this is the last two paragraphs of this entry. The second way to make people feel connected is on my donation page, I talk about my Honorees. Many of my donors have followed the progress of my Honorees for over a year. You won't have Honorees, but find a way to make it personal. Talk about why youth empowerment is important to you or about a particular child you've known.

Another thing is that you want to set up a way for people to donate without handing money to you personally. Allowing anonymous donations is great too. Many people are uncomfortable with money. They would give you a donation but hate that awkward hand-you-the-check moment. Provide a way to contribute that avoids that.

Go ahead and offer consulting services if it makes you feel more comfortable asking for support. Just remember that incentive is about enabling you to ask not about encouraging them to contribute. The connection to the goal is why they'll give.

Good luck!
posted by 26.2 at 7:53 AM on March 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

« Older What Macbook Pro should I get?   |   Recommendations for a history curriculum Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.