Guides & Resources

How to Secure Corporate Sponsors for a Nonprofit Auction

Stewardship & Marketing: Cause-Related Marketing/Sponsorships
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Nonprofit Auction

Imagine this: The venue for your charity auction is fully furnished and decorated. Table centerpieces are in place and your item catalog is complete with a variety of enticing auction items. You have access to every marketing tool you need and a wide audience receptive to your event advertisements.

This ideal auction situation is easier to attain with the help of a corporate sponsor. Support from a corporation can have a significant impact on your fundraising efforts, especially when hosting an event like an auction. That’s why we’ve created this guide!

Use the following steps to secure corporate sponsors for your next auction:

  • Develop sponsorship levels
  • Promote the opportunity
  • Find potential sponsors

Your job is not only to secure sponsorships but to cultivate relationships with these sponsors to guarantee long-term support. Let’s take a closer look at how you can obtain and make the most of corporate contributions. 

Develop sponsorship levels

According to ClickBid’s auction planning guide, the first step in planning is to determine your auction’s goals. This will help you define what you’re looking for in a partner and what you’re willing to give in return. After all, how can you move forward with a sponsorship unless you know the goal you’re trying to reach and the help you’ll need to get there?

Sponsors will be willing and able to contribute in different ways, depending on factors such as the size of the organization, their available resources, and their affinity for your cause. By offering different levels of sponsorship, you’ll make the opportunity to give appealing to a wide variety of potential corporate donors.

These levels may include:

  • Tier-style sponsorships: These popular sponsorship levels are based on donation size. For example, you might create a silver-tier sponsorship package worth $1,000 and a gold-tier sponsorship worth $5,000.
  • In-kind sponsorships: The type of contribution you’ll need most for your auction is the donation of goods and services! In-kind donations can cover your need for auction items as well as supplies you may need for the event itself, such as sound equipment or tablecloths.
  • A la carte options: Offer miscellaneous add-ons to your larger sponsorship packages so that corporations can have some flexibility in their contributions. For example, corporations could add an extra $500 to their donation and receive an additional advertisement at the event in exchange.

The sponsorship levels you create will be unique to your auction’s needs. Don’t be afraid to create more specific opportunities, such as a media sponsorship through which engaging videos are created to show at your event.   

Promote the opportunity 

After establishing the details of the sponsorships you’re looking for, get the word out by promoting the opportunity on the following channels:

  • Your website: Use your charity auction software to create custom event pages with all of the most important information about your fundraiser. Then, link to the event page on your website to direct sponsors to more information about the event.
  • Social media: Posting content about your sponsorships is an easy way to get the word out about the opportunity, especially if you’re already posting about the auction! Be sure to differentiate your event promotion from sponsorship information so that you effectively grab the attention of your varying audiences.
  • Direct messaging: Text or email previous constituents who might have corporate connections you can leverage for your event. For example, if a donor or volunteer works for a company with a corporate giving program, they might be able to advocate for your nonprofit and help you secure a sponsorship from their employer.

You can also reach out directly to potential sponsors with a sponsorship proposal letter. Write a letter that makes a connection between the corporation and your nonprofit, explaining the potential for impact through sponsoring your auction. Be sure to include information about your sponsorship levels and a clear plan for how their contributions would be used.  

Find potential sponsors  

While developing sponsorship levels and promoting the opportunity can help establish support for your auction, your efforts won’t be as successful unless you target potential sponsors and make direct asks. Lean on your nonprofit’s network to find sponsors, such as:

  • Board members: Look to your nonprofit’s leaders for corporate connections. In their personal lives outside of your organization, they might interact with countless corporations that would be willing to contribute. For example, a board member’s spouse might work for a company that is actively looking to expand their corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative.
  • Long-time donors: As you retain donors throughout the years, you’ll learn more about them and their other affiliations. These individuals are great resources for reaching out to corporations, such as donors’ employers, self-owned businesses, or friends’ establishments.
  • Beneficiaries: As your nonprofit impacts the lives of those in need, your beneficiaries will likely want to return the favor and give back in some way to your organization. These individuals could share their stories with corporations, explaining how your nonprofit made a difference in their lives and how sponsoring your auction could help more people in need.

Ask staff members and friends to recruit sponsors on your nonprofit’s behalf to expand the number of corporations you’re able to reach. Plus, companies are more likely to sponsor your event when they have an existing connection with the person requesting their sponsorship.

When looking for corporate sponsorships, get creative and bold with your requests. You never know who will be willing to give their support, so don’t be afraid to reach out to every company you can, even if you have no direct connection with it!

More than simply securing sponsorships, your nonprofit should cultivate relationships with these corporations to secure their long-term support. To do this, remember to thank your sponsors at the end of the auction for their contributions. Showing your appreciation can help strengthen the relationship between your organizations, and those sponsors could potentially return for your next auction!

Matthew Burnell

Matthew is a 1999 graduate of Grand Valley State University with a degree in film and computer science. He has more than 20 years of experience working with nonprofits to boost the efficiency of their fundraising efforts. As the founder of ClickBid — an all-in-one event fundraising platform that makes raising money simple — Matthew's goal is to provide nonprofit leaders with the tools they need to use their valuable time effectively. From critical fundraising mistakes to the million-dollar milestones, he’s seen it all. When not blending media with software he is at home playing video games with his son or denying that he’s too old to learn a new tech stack.

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