It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that, because your Rotary club is run by volunteers donating their time, funds should be obtained solely by financial donations too.
Often a business is approached by a Rotarian who asks for sponsorship, but who only manages to obtain a donation.
So what's the difference? A donor is an organisation that supports your cause and asks for little in return. A sponsor is an organisation that wants business value from an association with your club and is prepared to pay for it.
In today's economics and business climate your website (and for that matter all your online presence) and its performance plays a crucial role in justifying your request for sponsorship.
Here's a handy chart to compare them.
|Likely to be associated with a cause or your club.||Likely to be associated with a significant fundraising event or project rather than your club as a whole.|
|Will expect nothing in return.||Requires a business case before investing.|
|Will make a small donation then step aside.||Will likely invest marketing resources and funds in helping you make the sponsored event succeed.|
|Entrusts their reputation and brand to that of the cause rather than your club.||Entrusts their reputation and brand to the event or your club. That in turn demands a strong club or event identity that complements their own brand and reputation.|
|Level of donation likely to be capped at hundreds of dollars.||Level of sponsorship likely to be in the thousands of dollars, capped primarily by the business value of the sponsorship.|
|Not particularly interested in any marketing effort.||Will want a marketing plan to understand how you propose to add value to the relationship and promote the sponsor.|
|Likely to be short term, possibly recurrent.||Likely to be long term as a collaboration between your club and the sponsor.|
|Donations are often little more than "go away" money.||Funds provided are considered an investment.|
|Unlikely to attract potential new members.||Likely to introduce potential new members, especially if it's an event that's being sponsored.|
|Only interested in the cause.||Interested in your target market, who will attend, how many people you will promote to, your website performance etc.|
|Requires no effort on your part other than asking for money.||May require investment / funding on your part, particularly in marketing and advertising, to improve the event's chances of success.|
|Donation is unlikely to be tax deductible for the donor.||Coming out of the sponsor's marketing budget means that the investment is most probably tax deductible.|
The key to a successfully obtaining sponsorship is to understand what you're actually offering or selling to the sponsor. The simple fact that you're a Rotary club may well elicit a donation, especially if a member already knows the donor personally. It will rarely if ever elicit sponsorship.
Equally, pleading with the potential sponsor that giving you money is the mark of a socially responsible business may be enough to obtain a donation; alone it's unlikely to be motivation to become a sponsor because there's no apparent business case in doing so.