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Last updated November 14, 2014

If you are lucky enough to have a sponsorship relationship with a local business, then it is really important that you recognise it’s value and invest in building a strong, lasting relationship. It’s not enough to accept the cheque, send a thank-you note and include their logo on your website; if you want to keep them on-board you have to make a real effort to make them feel like a part of the team.

1. Send them copies of your newsletter
Initially a business may choose to support your organisation because of what’s in it for them, but if you want to keep them involved long-term, you need to show them how their support is making a difference. Assuming you have a well written newsletter, it’s a good idea to add business sponsors to the mailing list. Be sure to use the newsletter to publically acknowledge their support also.

 2. Invite them to your meetings
Business owners have a wide range of skills that could be useful for growing your organisation. If a company is prepared to sponsor you financially, they may well be prepared to provide some skills and expertise for specific projects as well. The invitation alone will make them feel valued and demonstrate that you are genuinely pleased to have them involved.

 3. Watch their publicity and comment on it
The sponsorship relationship should be a two-way street. Just as you want your business sponsor to show an interest in your organisation, it is important to show an interest in their business as well. Keep an eye on what’s happening in their business and send a short email with a few words of encouragement from time to time.

4. Send them updates about the specific project / programme they are sponsoring
If a business is sponsoring a specific project or programme make sure you send them updates as you go along. Don’t wait for the whole thing to be finished before you provide feedback. Keep them in the loop with photos, media articles and updates.

5. Give them extra promotional opportunities for free
Most businesses get involved in sponsorship because of what’s in it for them, so it’s important that you give them what you’ve promised…and then some. It’s much better to under-promise and over-deliver, rather than the other way around. Look for extra opportunities to promote your sponsors and make sure they know that you have when you do.

 6. Shop with them
It goes without saying; if a business is giving you their support, it is essential that you give them your support in return. Make a point of using their products or services whenever possible and actively encourage your staff, volunteers and trustees to do the same. If you are referring people, make sure they say that you sent them!

7. Offer new opportunities to them first
Often organisations won’t ask their sponsors for extra support because they’re worried that they’ll appear greedy or ungrateful. Not true. If you have done a good job of showing your appreciation and demonstrating how much you value the relationship, sponsors will expect you to come to them first when new opportunities arise. It’s about being open and transparent in conversations.

How have you worked to build a deeper relationship with your business sponsors?

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