Nonprofit organizations carry a huge social burden. If they’re not effective in their efforts to raise money, the individuals who depend on them for their services get left out in the cold – oftentimes quite literally. Although these nonprofit organizations tend to be experts in fundraising, there is one area of development that remains mostly untapped, and that is the area of digital media marketing sponsorships, especially among small to medium-sized businesses.

When considering which businesses and corporations to target for funding, it seems logical for nonprofits to go straight for the big guys. After all, these are the companies that are most likely to hand over tens of thousands of dollars without giving it a second thought, all in the name of good PR and an attractive tax write-off. While this is certainly not a bad approach – it has worked for many organizations for many years – there are new avenues to consider (namely, social media sponsorships), both within these same companies and outside of them.

With the explosion of social media and the valuable advertising and marketing opportunities presented along with it, digital media marketing has long been a tool used by nonprofit organizations to not only build relationships with their notoriously loyal followers, but also to establish and promote their own brands. And now, these nonprofits are turning their social media platforms into even greater assets by leveraging them into sponsorship opportunities.

How does it work?

The idea is simple: By opening up their own social media platforms as a means for promoting their sponsors, nonprofit organizations can sell their posts as advertising space – an approach that offers multiple advantages:

  • Because of the marketing benefits this strategy offers to the sponsoring businesses, nonprofits can tap into a whole new set of funds from already existing donors. When a nonprofit approaches one of those aforementioned large businesses for the big bucks donation, that money typically comes from the corporation’s public relations or community budget (and when that budget is gone for the year, it’s gone). However, that money is a completely separate entity from the corporation’s marketing budget, which is what would typically be used to fund this type of joint marketing/sponsorship opportunity. As a result, the nonprofit can approach two arms of the same company and benefit from two separate pools of sponsorship dollars.
  • Digital media marketing sponsorships can be offered at a much lower cost than other types of sponsorships and marketing opportunities, which makes them accessible to smaller businesses that may not have the ability to donate large sums but do have a marketing budget to play with. Where it may cost upwards of $5,000 per month to advertise with a traditional digital media source, a $500 monthly digital sponsorship can go a long way in drumming up a significant number of impressions.
  • Because digital media sponsorships come with a clearly measurable ROI (social media impressions, website clicks, email opens, etc.), these small to medium-sized businesses can clearly see the marketing value in this type of investment and are therefore more likely to spend the money on it, as opposed to spending those same dollars on an event sponsorship, for example, which may cost the same amount in the long run but is likely to produce no significant return.
  • With so few nonprofit organizations currently approaching small and medium-sized businesses for donations (compared to large corporations), the market is significantly undersaturated and wide open for solicitation.
  • Because this type of sponsorship falls under the charitable contribution umbrella, it is likely to qualify as a tax-deductible donation, which means that at the end of the year, sponsors are essentially receiving a tax break for this portion of their marketing budgets.

Integrating a successful media sponsorship plan

For any nonprofit interested in launching a digital media sponsorship plan, success hinges primarily on two key steps. The organization must:

1. Invest in establishing its own digital marketing strategy, which includes a strong independent social media presence

2. Fully commit to delivering on the promises made to sponsors, whatever they may be

A truly effective digital media sponsorship strategy requires more than simply sharing a few posts about a sponsor and calling it a day. These sponsorships come with a real responsibility on the part of the nonprofit to provide real results accompanied by detailed monthly reports so sponsors can clearly measure their ROI and understand exactly what they are getting out of their contribution and why they should continue to invest in the organization.

For any nonprofit organization that is able to successfully launch a digital media sponsorship program, there is a lot of money to be had. As seen with some of the better-known nonprofit brands, the larger their social media following, email lists and website hits, the more they can charge for ongoing sponsorships. Ultimately, it is a self-serving strategy that has the potential to be incredibly lucrative because each year – as long as a clear marketing plan remains in place – the nonprofit’s numbers will continue to grow, and along with that their brand awareness will increase, bringing in more donors, volunteers, advocates, etc. As the organization’s own marketing value continues to climb, the value of the sponsorship program also increases, and more and more dollars can be generated.

Considering that the average nonprofit charges anywhere between $250 and $1,000 per month for a digital media sponsorship, and there is no limit on the number of sponsors any one nonprofit can have (as long as their calendar is properly managed), the potential for development is seemingly limitless.