Creating corporate partnerships can be a big job but, if you do it correctly, it can be a major difference-maker for your Dance Marathon program. We asked some of our network’s own leaders for advice they’d share to programs who are working to make their partnership pitch to new businesses.
Preparing Your Pitch:
Knowing who you are approaching is key. You have to anticipate what they will want from you and approach them knowing exactly what you have to offer. However, it’s important to keep in mind that you are proposing a partnership, and you need to benefit from it equally. – Casey Berry
Ask that company/organization what their primary objectives are as a business. Bonus points if you can find/know that information ahead of time. This will help to tie back into your pitch and why it’s a smart business decision for them to partner with your organization. – Elyse Meardon
When making presentations to company representatives, be sure to rehearse beforehand. If you’re presenting with a partner, decide how you want to break up the components of the presentation ahead of time. – Hannah Chi
Provide some type of visual for your event and use it at the beginning – preferably a video, if possible. This offers the audience an image to refer back to throughout the presentation and it helps them picture how their company will fit in at your event. – Jacob Logeman
Having a connection within the business you are approaching is imperative. During one of the Corporate Partnerships Workshops, we learned the importance of having a way in and working through that door to open up others. – Casey Berry
Explaining “Why” (& it’s not just For The Kids):
Lead with your why. It is important that these companies and businesses not only know about the organization, but more importantly, why do YOU (student) believe in the cause so much? Why do you volunteer the hours that you volunteer? Etc. – Elyse Meardon
Connect your pitch back to the kids in the end. Obviously mention it in the beginning along with your mission statement, but circle back to it by the end of the presentation because their decision will immediately follow. Play up the emotional connection that DM has to offer. – Jacob Logeman
Don’t just sell them on the cause. A pitch that is solely cause driven is nice, but it’s mostly ‘fluff’. Help the organization or business that you’re pitching to understand why it is a SMART business decision for them to partner with your organization. Most sponsorship dollars don’t come directly from their charitable giving pot, but rather from the company’s marketing department. – Elyse Meardon
Making the Ask:
Suggest a specific dollar amount for them to invest in your program. Do your research ahead of time and come up with an appropriate offer for the size of their company. – Jacob Logeman
Putting a figure amount on your ask will make it easier for companies to truly grasp your sponsorship proposal, and to quickly decide if a partnership is feasible at this time or not. For example, you could ask for a $40,000 donation to pay for the salary of a part-time child life specialist. – Hannah Chi
Knowing What You’ve Got to Offer:
Do not undervalue your own assets. Greg Hill (Managing Director, Partnerships at CMN Hospitals) gave our team great advice about realizing and accentuating the influence of our social media reach and advertising mediums, among other assets. Use those assets to demonstrate that joining our movement is a decision that they will not regret. – Casey Berry
Know how you will measure value and provide a wrap report at the end of the year. Before a company ever says yes to your pitch, you must know if you can 1. Make good on anything you’re pitching to them 2. How will you measure your success in what you say you’ll do and 3. How will you translate that success (and lessons learned) back to the company? This can yield long term investments and really show a company/organization that your DM program is invested in a lasting relationship – not just bolstering year-over-year totals. – Elyse Meardon
“Learn How to Lead with your Why” from Maureen Carlson, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Senior Vice President, Strategic Partnerships.
“Sponsorship 101 & the Multi-Year Sell,” – Slides from Maureen Carlson’s presentation at the 2016 Dance Marathon Leadership Conference.
A great example of a corporate partner impact report from Terp Thon at the University of Maryland sent after their Color Run campaign, with photos of their booth at the event and specific numbers that demonstrate the reach their business received.