3 Great Reasons Companies Should Sponsor You

Sponsorships can make the difference between an event being successful and an event being a failure.  Sponsorship dollars are critical.  Fortunately, sponsorship dollars are something that are easy to raise (yes, you read that right) – easy because they are a win-win. Companies receive several benefits from sponsorships:

  1. Corporate sponsorships provide companies benefits with their customers
  2. They increase employee productivity and loyalty, and
  3. They offer traditional marketing benefits like name/brand recognition in the community.

As the Cause Marketing Forum and the Cone Report  have helped us to understand, nonprofits are not the only beneficiaries of sponsorship dollars.  9 out of 10 moms, for example, want the opportunity to make a purchase that benefits a cause and the majority of all Americans would switch brands (80%), try a new or unknown brand (61%), or try a generic brand (40%) if price and quality were roughly equal and the product was associated with a cause they care about (Cone, 2010).

Now, several studies point to evidence that corporate giving may also improve employee productivity. 

The most recent study is actually an online experiment conducted on 300 university students conducted by Mirco Tonin and Michael Vlassopoulos. Because the study has students for subjects, the results may not be representative and might not be generalizable to the workforce in general. However, in that study, students were divided into several different comparison groups.  In these groups, the students were given compensation for entering data; then, they were given compensation with bonuses tied to performance.  Some of the experimental groups were offered compensatory bonuses in the form of charitable donations to charities of their choices or they were offered opportunities to split their bonuses with a charity of their choice (keeping some for themselves). 

For most, the charitable donation options were as motivating as the cash bonuses being paid directly to them and those that had the choice to give or not give? Most chose to share their bonuses with charity when offered a choice, with women more likely to give than men. (See the Conversation for a synopsis of the study  or The Management Science Journal for a full-text version of the article).

Of course, because the participants were university students and most likely younger than the typical corporate population, one might wonder if this was a generational effect since the Millennial Impact Report (2014) and other studies on generational differences among age cohorts have consistently shown that the Millennials are more interested in and motivated by corporate cause work in career decisions than earlier generations although, interestingly, cause work with Millennials is as likely to mean investment of time and talent as investment of money.

While the current study’s results may be a little clouded by the age bias of its research subjects, the study’s authors cite survey evidence from 261 leading US companies, including 62 from the Fortune 500 list who have contributed more than $25 billion in total giving in 2013, equivalent to around 1% of pre-tax profits, or more than $600 per employee affirming their belief in a correlation between worker productivity and corporate philanthropy, as supporting evidence.

From the worker’s perspective, this may be troubling, argues Jessica Leber, because the study may herald a shifting of “corporate” philanthropy from the company to the worker, with the corporation benefiting and the worker paying. 

In a wonderful post written in 2013, Truist addresses many of these arguments by discussing the psychology of corporate social responsibility, employee engagement, and the work of Wharton Business School Professor Adam Grant.  In an acclaimed book, Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success, Grant writes that corporate giving helps employees see themselves and how they fit into the company and the community more positively. This, in turn, results in a more caring personal identity and, therefore, in greater connection to the company and increased productivity.  

We also all know with sponsorships that there are tremendous marketing benefits for our sponsors.  They get their names printed on our banners and signs.  Their logos are printed on our t-shirts which are worn for centuries (okay, maybe only for decades).  Their logos are hyperlinked to our websites for months.  We tweet out the love to them and give them their props on Facebook.  We mention them in our eNewsletters.  They couldn’t buy those kind of imprints anywhere else for what we sell them for.

With their being strong evidence that there are benefits to the company of corporate partnerships—both with their customers and with their own employees, we now have a new argument for corporate sponsorships.  This gives businesses another reason to get behind sponsorships and gifts to your organization. And, don’t forget the traditional marketing benefits.  Because sponsorships are so critical to the success of events, this is great news to all you fundraisers out there selling sponsorships.  Win-win!  Don’t you love it when that happens.  Why should anyone say no?!?