Sponsorship & Underwriting Campaigns

Sponsorship and underwriting campaigns are in the parlance of fundraising designated gift campaigns. The money they bring in is promised to a narrowly defined aspect of a nonprofit organization’s good works. Gifts to these types of campaigns meet specific needs of a nonprofit. Donations are made to them for a variety of reasons, but it would be a rare donor who made a gift to a sponsorship or underwriting campaign who didn’t have an interest in the specific he or she was supporting.

We would argue that any donation which carries with it naming rights of any type is in a broad sense an underwriting campaign. Thinking about sponsorship and underwriting as belonging to the same family as naming rights points us to how such an incentive can be used to appeal to specific donors. That, of course, brings us back to how knowing your donors is a key to soliciting them.

And that brings us full circle and back to how fundraising for specific sponsorship and underwriting opportunities can be a strategy used to increase the gifts of individuals and grant-making organizations for whom visibility is an enticement.


Articles about Sponsorship & Underwriting Campaigns

Sponsorships and Underwriting Campaigns: Would You Please Fund Our…?

Sponsorships and underwriting are different labels for basically the same thing: funding donated for the support of a project, program, event, initiative, activity, or even a salary. In general, foundations are identified as underwriters and corporations as sponsors. Individuals can be either, but in most instances underwriters and sponsors will be foundations and corporations. The amount of publicity and recognition also helps answer the question of whether a funder is an underwriter or a sponsor. The word sponsor connotes a higher level of participation and consequently higher visibility than does underwriter. If one of the benefits a funder is seeking in exchange for support is publicity and recognition, then that funder is best identified as a sponsor. In very low visibility situations such as the funding of a position -an executive director, for instance—we would probably refer to the donor as an underwriter, even if the donor was a corporation. In the end it doesn’t really matter whether you call a funding opportunity underwriting or sponsorship. Do what seems natural, what is usual within your community, and always do what the funder wants. If a corporation would rather be named an underwriter than a sponsor, then it’s an underwriter. For the purposes of this discussion, I will use the labels sponsor and sponsorship in instances where we could be talking about either a corporation or foundation. Only when I wish to restrict the application of what I am saying to a foundation will I use the labels underwriter and underwriting. “Package” Your Programs, Services And Events Sponsorship, especially corporate sponsorship, is a relatively recent fund-raising strategy compared to other... read more

The Name Is the Game:
Memberships and Named Gift Opportunities

In the nonprofit world, when it comes to “memberships,” we seem to be of two minds. On the one hand are memberships that convey benefits in exchange for a fee, and on the other, those that recognize donors for gifts made. Fee-Based Memberships In fee-based memberships, a patron of The Metropolis Museum can “join” that institution and become a member by paying a fee of $25 or $50 and receive a monthly magazine, free admission, a discount at the museum shop, special event invitations, etc. To my way of thinking, this type of membership is actually an earned income opportunity and is better left to the museum’s marketing department. Those fee-paying members have more in common with a performing arts organization’s season ticket holders than its donors, and their real value to a development effort lies in their potential to contribute to fund-raising campaigns, rather than the fee they pay for their membership. Philanthropy-Driven Memberships Recognition-based membership programs are tools used to convert prospects into donors and to increase the size of gift. They are one of the most useful tools fund-raisers have. Donors giving at a certain level to the annual fund become Friends of the organization. If they give at increasingly higher levels they have the opportunity to be recognized as Contributing Friend, Supporting Friend, or Sustaining Friend. Then there are those who give more that one could ever expect from a friend and enter the rarefied air of Benefactor or even Founder. Perhaps they become members of the President’s Circle. What matters is the concept, not the name. The idea is to tastefully and properly recognize... read more