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Before you read the helpful tips and tricks in the Sponsorship section of this blog, it’s important that you’re clear about what sponsorship is – and what it isn’t. Many organisations confuse sponsorship with grants or donations, so it is important we clarify any confusion before you get too far down the track. While all three of these things result in your organisation receiving money, they are quite different types of relationships, with different processes and expectations from those involved. Let’s have a closer look…

Grants are given to you by a trust or organisation whose primary purpose is to support the community sector. The funding body has money which is distributed to meet specific community needs and your organisation needs to apply for funds based on a set of specific criteria. The amount of money you receive is directly related to the cost of the project, programme or service you are offering.

Once you have spent the money provided, your organisation must account to the funding body, and prove that those funds were used for the purposes they were granted. Some funding organisations request public acknowledgement or promotion in return for the funds, but this is not always the case.

Donations are defined as anything given as ‘a gift’. By definition that means the donor expects and receives nothing in return. The size of the gift is not relevant; the defining point is the expectation of the giver. Donations can come from individuals, businesses or organisations, and include gifts of money, time, services or resources. While donors may be interested in the cost of your project, programme or services, their gift is not necessarily related to any specific costs.

Donors do not expect promotion in return for their gift; however you should always show appropriate appreciation and acknowledgement.

Sponsorship is the act of sponsoring. By definition, sponsorship means to ‘assume responsibility for’. That doesn’t mean a sponsor takes responsibility for your whole organisation or even your entire programme, but it does mean they are investing enough time, money or resources that they are genuinely interested in its success. Sponsorship is a partnership where a commitment is required by both parties.

Sponsorship is usually offered by a business or corporate body. While some businesses offer sponsorship for philanthropic reasons, for most it is largely a commercial decision. For them ‘to assume responsibility for’ an aspect of your organisation, it must provide obvious benefit to their business as well.

Sponsors are less interested in what your project or programme costs, and more interested in what they are getting for their money. They do not require an operating budget or accountability of how the funds were spent, but they do expect something in return. Exactly what they expect should be identified in a sponsorship contract; most often it includes specific marketing and promotional opportunities.

Sponsorship can be a great way to generate untagged funds for your organisation and is definately worth exploring.