6 Creative Corporate Sponsorship Examples

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Published January 13, 2023 Reading Time: 6 minutes

In the wake of public health emergencies, critical social justice movements, and climate disasters, small businesses, large corporations, and nonprofits alike have looked for ways to deepen their impact in the world. For-profit and nonprofit sponsorships offer heightened value when it comes to addressing these issues.

When donations wane for nonprofits during economic slowdowns, for-profit companies like Coca-Cola or McDonald’s for example, can become potential sponsors with them to fill in the gaps with a corporate sponsorship. Simultaneously, for-profit businesses can both add purpose to their model and engage their staff and communities, as these cross-sector collaborations can increase employee engagement and retention rates by 5 to 7% and sales up to 7%.

With the bond between the nonprofit and for-profit sectors becoming stronger than ever, you may want to consider how your nonprofit can establish a partnership with a business. Below, we showcase eight examples of sponsorships. Check out how different nonprofits and for-profits have partnered on corporate sponsorships and campaigns to inspire your own outreach and collaboration.

1. Leverage Corporate Partners to Access Influencers and Major Donations

Team Rubicon is a nonprofit that mobilizes veterans to respond to natural disasters and humanitarian crises. Mountain Dew kicked off a partnership with Team Rubicon by making a generous $1 million donation. That type of large contribution can build excitement and momentum for additional giving.

Coupled with its donation, the company paired one of its celebrity influencers, professional race car driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., with the nonprofit’s cause. Mountain Dew framed Earnhardt’s role as helping “rally DEW® Nation to participate in the MTN DEW® x Team Rubicon mission.” “DEW® Nation,” the company’s consumers, could donate to Team Rubicon and receive limited-edition MTN DEW® x Team Rubicon products, such as shirts, backpacks, tents, and even an in-person race-day experience with Earnhardt himself.

Partnering with a large corporation can bring resources to your nonprofit to which you may not otherwise have access. When collaborating with a for-profit, consider the variety of ways they can elevate your cause, including influencers, products, marketing, and financial support.

2. Partner to Conduct Research and Raise Awareness

Team Rubicon also partnered with jerky company Jack Link’s Protein Snacks. This partnership was heavily framed around research and education along with broad brand exposure.

Jack Link’s supported the collection of national survey data on the long-term impacts of natural disasters to help Team Rubicon tell a data-driven story about its mission. These data also serve to educate Team Rubicon’s prospective donors on how Americans underestimate the full impact of humanitarian crises and what the nonprofit is doing to address that.

Jack Link’s framed its decision to pursue the partnership with data-driven messaging, further building a case that Team Rubicon’s value is evidence-based and donors’ money will be used effectively.

Their press release begins with:

As hurricane season begins this month, and devastating storms begin to take their annual toll on the country, new survey data from Jack Link’s Protein Snacks found that Americans misunderstand the long-term impact of these storms, and other natural disasters, on communities—many of which are still in need of relief and aid today.

It goes on to share some of the facts and figures from the survey data, as well as quotes from company leaders emphasizing the value of the partnership:

Cleaning up the aftermath of natural disasters has become a difficult reality for many Americans throughout the country—a struggle that often goes unnoticed once the initial wave of support subsides,’ said T.D. ‘Tom’ Dixon, chief marketing officer at Jack Link’s. ‘After reviewing survey data from our Team Rubicon partnership, we have a better understanding of the misconceptions that exist around disaster relief and the lack of support for local communities who continue to struggle in the wake of disaster devastation. In an effort to aid families in need, Jack Link’s is raising awareness for the cause, donating resources and harnessing the strength and passion of our team members on the front lines.

In addition, Jack Link’s leveraged “National Jerky Day” to grow awareness for Team Rubicon’s cause and increase donations through offering both an in-kind and financial match. For every bag of jerky consumers bought, Jack Link’s donated a bag to Team Rubicon’s field volunteers. They also matched consumer donations to Team Rubicon dollar for dollar on that day.

While your nonprofit may not have the resources on its own to conduct major research, a for-profit can partner with you to gather key data on your mission. Using these data can heighten people’s trust in your nonprofit and make them more likely to participate in a matching campaign.This sponsorship strategy can benefit you in many types of events as well as you introduce your cause to supporters for the first time.

3. Elevate a Shared Brand Ethos Through Profit-Sharing

The Trevor Project is a nonprofit focused on crisis intervention and suicide prevention for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) young people under 25. SoulCycle partnered with the nonprofit during Pride Month to help raise funds for its mission through profit-sharing.

The Trevor Project and SoulCycle, while different in one being a nonprofit and the other a for-profit, share a similar brand ethos around the themes of acceptance and support. This facilitated a partnership that felt organic in its branding, with SoulCycle introducing the partnership under the tagline, “Ride as you are. Love as you are.” The spin business also created a fun video to showcase the collaboration and celebrate Pride, providing greater audience reach for The Trevor Project’s work and a successful event. When looking for corporate sponsors, take a deeper dive into the marketing strategy of brands that already align well with your values as a wonderful place to start.

In addition to the marketing element, SoulCycle created a special class pack for Pride Month where 10% of all proceeds were donated to The Trevor Project.

When considering a partnership with a for-profit business, look for companies that share a similar brand and mission to your nonprofit. This will allow you to tap into an audience that is likely already more receptive to your message and ready to join in to support the partnership’s goals. Also, think outside of the box; one might not think immediately of pairing LGBTQ services and cycling, but consider how you can still create a mission-aligned partnership with a company that shares similar core values and can open you up to a new audience.

4. Curate Limited-Edition Products That Support Your Mission

The Trevor Project also partnered with clothing company Abercrombie & Fitch during Pride. The company provided a $200,000 donation to The Trevor Project and worked directly with the nonprofit to design a limited-edition, gender-neutral clothing line in support of Pride and The Trevor Project.

The website includes language affirming the partnership and The Trevor Project’s mission, acknowledging the company’s desire to remember that Pride started as a protest.

Partnering with a for-profit to create limited edition products serves as a way to raise money for your nonprofit while also increasing your brand awareness and potential media coverage. Supporters seen wearing your clothing line or other swag around town can use that experience as a conversation starter with others about your mission.

5. Design Creative Giveaways in Support of Fundraising Goals

Feeding San Diego is a nonprofit addressing hunger in San Diego by connecting those in need with nutritious meals. Perfect Snacks partnered with the nonprofit to add incentives for supporters of its campaign. For every $100 a supporter donates, they receive a raffle ticket for a variety of perks and prizes, including gift cards to DoorDash, Crate & Barrel, and Trader Joe’s, as well as protein bars from Perfect Snacks and a new TV.

For-profit partners may be able to more easily round up support from other businesses looking to partner on a cause. Consider using your for-profit partnership to gather raffle prize donations to encourage supporter participation in your campaigns.

6. Improve Services and Opportunities for Beneficiaries Through For-Profit Linkages

Heifer International is a worldwide nonprofit with a mission to sustainably end hunger and poverty by supporting local farmers and their communities. Its United States programming works “to connect farms to markets and to integrate them into a short, profitable, direct-to-consumer supply chain.” To accomplish this, Heifer USA explores sponsorship opportunities with for-profit businesses, including Cypress Valley Meat Company and Grass Roots Farmers’ Cooperative.

Grass Roots Farmers’ Cooperative uses an e-commerce platform to sell pasture-raised meat directly to consumers. Its approach to livestock production aligns with Heifer International’s values. Through this partnership, Heifer USA’s farmers are able to obtain buying and price guarantees, receive business support, and qualify for loans to purchase equipment and livestock. The partnership ultimately helps Heifer International fulfill its mission to connect small-scale farmers to markets, while Grass Roots Farmers’ Cooperative concurrently builds its commitment to purchasing and selling small-batch livestock grown using regenerative farming.

Since the farmers Heifer USA works with also need access to high-quality, affordable USDA-inspected meat processing services, the nonprofit partners with Cypress Valley Meat Company. All small-scale farmers that produce for Grass Roots Farmers’ Cooperative are guaranteed access to Cypress Valley Meat Company’s inspection services. By offering this service, the company elevates its standing as a business of integrity while highlighting its commitment to supporting rural economies.

This type of partnership model ultimately centers a nonprofit’s beneficiaries. By doing so, both the nonprofit and for-profit are able to make progress toward their missions and receive positive exposure to and promotion of their products or services. Think about ways you can leverage support from your for-profit partners to directly improve the services your beneficiaries receive. See if there are connections to businesses you can make on behalf of your beneficiaries that will provide for their long-term success.

Increase Your Impact Through a For-Profit and Nonprofit Partnership

The economic and social climate of the past several years has ushered in increased interest in meaningful for-profit and nonprofit partnerships. Use these cross-sector collaborations as opportunities to reach new audiences with your mission, secure needed resources, and, ultimately, further your impact.

Before you go: Remember to start thinking about how you’ll frame your sponsorship proposal and what sponsorship packages you’d like to offer as part of your upcoming fundraising strategy. Will you accept in-kind sponsorships, or can a media sponsorship support your virtual events? The more clear you are in what you need, the more likely sponsors are to hook onto your mission.

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