Network, network, network!
Preparing the homefront
- Spread the word - Let people know about your organization and your goals.
- Talk to your elected officials - MPs, councilors and others . Write letters to explain your group, and invite them to come see the area you are concerned with.
- Get letters of support. A letter of support from a politician will put your sponsor's mind at ease when it is time to hand over the money.
- Establish relationships with other groups that can help you, depending on the activity you are planning. If you are planting trees or naturalising a municipal park, maybe the local gardeners club or a scouts group can help.
- Find out about awards, and get yourself nominated for anything relevant. A few plaques will make your group look competent and well-established!
- Release press statements to the local newspaper. If you don't have anything newsworthy to tell them, invent some news - arrange a tour of your site or give a talk to your local high school (and don't forget to invite your elected officials to these too).
- Find other ways to get your information spread around. Most local radio, TV or cable stations have time slots set aside for community events, and are looking for ways to fill them.
- Create a binder with press clippings and a video with interviews that will make you look active and credible.
Do your homework
- Appoint a contact person and have a clear a mailing address. Having a group spokesperson who can answer questions and provide more information will help in media relations
- Establish an executive or advisory board - appoint a chair, a treasurer, and a secretary, and have the secretary keep notes of meetings.
- Look at your group members and put together a list of skills - sponsorship is complemented by the time, skills, and expertise of the volunteers. This will help explain to a potential sponsor what value-added services you bring to the table.
- Set-up a web presence - this will help provide information that you cannot transmit orally or through PR materials
- Carefully look at who you're approaching, research your target sponsor to find the right fit
- Look at the sponsor's previous philanthropic activities and its programmes/projects, and align your request around them
- Put a case-for-support paper together, something that shows where there is a role for the sponsor to play
- Remember volunteer initiatives run on persistence, enthusiasm, and community spirit. Sponsors run on numbers. Sponsors want to see a measurable benefit, and are ultimately accountable themselves.
- Look for ways to establish a stronger, more permanent presence in your community.
- Explore procedures to become a registered nonprofit group.
- Decide to register your own domain name on the internet. Much like a mailing address, a permanent domain name lends a certain credibility to your venture.
- Develop brochures, posters, and interpretive books as an effective way to raise community awareness.
- Seek support for information and ideas with NGO networks and coalitions - nationally and internationally