If you’re calling for sponsorships in the next few months, and you’re scared, I feel you.

I’ve gotten a lot of sponsorships, but I’ve gotten lots of rejections too. It’s scary to get rejected, even if it’s happened before. Even if you prepare yourself for it.

That’s why I’d like to confess to you what motivates me, as a sponsor. I hope my confession will help you start to understand what goes on behind your sponsor’s eyes.

How did we start the conversation?

I saw a nonprofit that I wanted to sponsor. It took me five calls and emails just to get someone to get back to me. And I had to say I wanted serve on the board just to get that meeting. Does this sound weird?

I had to hunt down the people at this nonprofit just to start to have the sponsorship conversation.

So we finally met, and the person I met with stuck a big long sponsorship description in front of me, with different levels of things I didn’t want. I looked it over, and then I looked her in the eye and said,

“Can we make a customized package?”

And she said, “What do you have in mind?”

I told her. She said, “It sounds reasonable, I’ll talk with the rest of my team and get back to you.”

So I sponsored them, and it was still hard. I got in front of their audience, but getting my message and the right links in each email? That was a bit of a nightmare. They got my links/message wrong in several emails and it took them a long time to get back to me.

Why did I call them? (My big fat motivation for sponsorship):

The reason I wanted to sponsor this nonprofit was because they had an audience that I really wanted to get in front of. I talked with someone else who had sponsored them and they told me it was good because it accomplished their marketing goals.

The customized package that I asked for (and eventually got) was a good marketing deal for me. I got my message emailed to the audience I wanted to reach. I was able to get more people to come to my free webinars. And when I went out to networking events in Portland, people started to recognize me. They said, “Oh, hey, I’ve heard of you!”

That was an unexpected bonus! And it made me feel pretty good as a sponsor.

Did I sponsor again? Nope. Here’s why.

Well, they were hard to work with, but also they asked me to sponsor again afterwards and they doubled the price of the sponsorship, without offering anything better. So I declined.

Your ultimate guide to a bigger sponsorship

Want more sponsorship advice?

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It has three recorded webinars, tons of worksheets, research about what your sponsors really want, and much more!

See a free sample of the course here.

6 lessons you can learn from my story

1. What your sponsor mainly wants is a marketing opportunity.

2. If you want a sponsor to work with you, be easy to reach.

3. If you have a big long sponsorship package, survey your former/current sponsors and ask if this is useful to them. (Chances are, it’s not.)

4. When you’re fulfilling the sponsorship, be easy to work with. Be easy to reach. Show the process step by step, and get clear about metrics so the sponsor can feel like it was a good use of their sponsorship money.

5. When you’re looking to get a multi-year sponsorship, bring it up in the meeting. Offer them the same price if they buy a sponsorship next time.

6. If you double the price, tell them why this sponsorship is worth more for their marketing and sales now.

Bonus lesson: If you’re a small nonprofit, talk with small businesses. The owner can decide right there whether or not they want to sponsor you. Big companies have so many chains of command and processes that it can take months to find the right person to talk with. This approach can save you a lot of time.