cause marketing

The Four Missing Pieces of Your Partner/Sponsor Presentation

Partnering with a small business—is it on your organization’s bucket list? It is for many small nonprofits and social enterprises. But it also seems a little elusive, doesn’t it?

First, you have to find the right potential partner. Then, you have to do a little wooing and a little schmoozing. After that, you might just secure your invitation to present your cause to the decision-makers.

It’s no small accomplishment making it this far! But finally, you’re in the room. So, what do you say?

Whether you’re seeking funding, in-kind-services, volunteers, or something else, there could be a lot riding on this meeting, both in the short and long-term. So, you certainly want it to go well.

If you’ve presented to a small business before, I’d urge you to dust off your presentation to look for the errors below. If this is your first time, consider it a head’s up.

Avoid these mistakes to have your potential partners and sponsors jumping at the chance to say, “YES!”

The 4 Missing Pieces of Your Partner-Sponsor Presentation

Missing Piece #1: Your Potential Partner

Is it possible that you’ve gone and made the whole presentation about you? That’s a common mistake.

Maybe you’re nervous, and all you can think of is you. Maybe you think you have something to prove. Maybe you want to adequately make your case. Maybe you’re just so darn excited about your organization that you can’t wait to share it.

All of those are perfectly normal, but while you’re fine-tuning your pitch, be sure to bring your potential partner or sponsor into the mix as well.

Don’t just let them see your mission. Let them see themselves in it.

Missing Piece #2: The Customization

Building on #1, I’d encourage you not to simply cut and paste your last presentation. Sure, many of the same elements will be included. But, where possible, tailor it to the people in the room. And I don’t just mean replacing the last guy’s logo with another one.

I always think it’s good to include both a mix of stats and stories. So, is there new research to support this potential partner or sponsor being involved? Is there a story that fits with the mission of the company? Is there something you’ve seen this business say or do that should be included?

Where can you edit a presentation to make it look like it was created for their eyes only? This kind of customization shows that you value them and their time. And it demonstrates that they are the perfect partner or sponsor for the need at hand.

Missing Piece #3: Your Confidence

Are you desperate for this help? Don’t show it! I know this can be very hard. I’ve been there myself—plenty of times.

But people don’t often give to desperation, unless it’s due to something like a natural disaster or tragedy. Otherwise, it can be a little scary for those at the opposite end of the table to realize all your hopes and dreams rest on them. Unless they have a savior complex, they may run in the other direction if you let them know that they are your Plan A, B, and Z.

If their decision is the make it or break it kind, it’s a lot of pressure to put on them. And, like individuals, companies want to give where they feel their money/services will be safe and best utilized.

So, what’s the alternative? Ask out of confidence. You undoubtedly have a lot to bring to the table, so put your best foot forward. Even if you really are desperate, make a list of the ways you benefit this company, what you do well, and the people you serve. I have no doubt it’s a great list, so let it inspire you as you make your “ask.”

Cause marketing (where for-profits team up with non-profits) is only growing, and that works in your favor. It’s possible this company has been waiting for someone like you!

Missing Piece #4: The Relationship

Listen closely, because this is the most important part. Unless you are just looking for a one-off favor or check, this is the part you can’t skip: the relationship.

The key piece of your presentation is the conversation that happens before and after the projector turns on and off. No amount of beautifully-designed slides will ever replace the dialogue between you and your potential partner or sponsor.

Don’t have designer on staff? This should be great news!

Take the time to cultivate this relationship for long-term success. Get to know the company and the people behind it. How can your mission enrich their efforts? They want to make an impact, too. It just might look different.

After the check’s in the mail, how can you continue to nurture the relationship for the future?

Not only is it easier to retain previous partners/sponsors rather than finding new ones, but building an engaged and dedicated partner could have significant, long-term effects for both of you.

I’m definitely an advocate of a good-looking presentation, but more than that, I’m an advocate of building relationships.

So, don’t leave these four pieces out of your next partnership or sponsorship presentation. They could just mean the difference between a yes and a no.


Need a ready-to-edit presentation perfect for your next partner or sponsor meeting?

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Partnering with a small business—is it on your organization’s bucket list? It is for many small nonprofits and social enterprises. But it also seems a little elusive, doesn’t it?  Avoid these mistakes to have your potential partners and sponsors jumping at the chance to say, “YES!”

Kristi Porter, founder of Signify

I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing and consulting services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing, and business communications. I also teach solopreneurs and small businesses how to incorporate philanthropy and giving strategies. I believe that cause-focused organizations are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.

Cause Marketing in Action: Foojee and Global Village Project

Many of the nonprofit leaders I speak to are eager to align with companies for short-term sponsorships or long-term partnerships. And many of the small businesses owners I talk with want to be more charitable. It seems like an easy match, right? Not always.

Nonprofits are more likely to target individual donors or grants before approaching companies. And small businesses aren’t always sure how to implement a giving strategy, so they may only take advantage of opportunities that fall into their lap.

More often than not, it looks like a middle school dance with each occupying their own side of the gym. But I’m hoping to help fix that issue, and one way I’ll do that is by bringing you stories of philanthropy in action. Having an example to follow on the cause marketing journey can not only show you what a for-profit/nonprofit partnership looks like in action, but give you a glimpse of the magic it can create—on both sides.

So, on the eve of International Day of the Girl, I’m beyond delighted to tell you about the successful partnership between Foojee, an outsourced Apple IT department, and Global Village Project, the only school in the country dedicated to educating refugee girls who’ve had their education interrupted.

Lucas Acosta, the owner of Foojee is a long-time friend, and Amy Pelissero, head of Global Village Project, is someone I’ve heard about for years and am glad to finally meet. They are a fantastic case story of what is possible for a local social impact partnership.

Amy Pelissero and a few of the students at Global Village Project

Amy Pelissero and a few of the students at Global Village Project

First, we’ll get Lucas’ point-of-view on the partnership, and then bring it home with Amy’s perspective. I loved reading their responses, and think you will too!

Why did you choose to partner with Global Village Project?

Amy and her team have created this education from scratch, and have proven it to be successful with hundreds of refugee girls. They’re doing such impactful work, and I wanted to be a part of it in some way.

Why is this cause important to you?

There are two main reasons why GVP is important to us. Education is near and dear to our hearts at Foojee. We feel that education has an opportunity to improve a life regardless of a child's parents, culture, or religion. Secondly, GVP is focused directly on a segment of our society that is often overlooked: refugee girls. Women, especially in developing countries, are often the last to be recognized and supported, and GVP is solely focused on them.

What are the benefits you provide to the nonprofit?

We provide all of GVPs IT services including Mac and iPad management, networking, and security, and we do it at no cost to them. Why not just give money? We could donate money, but GVP’s efforts are so close to Foojee’s values that we want to offer our strengths to their cause.

What has this partnership done for your internal culture?

We’re not here to just provide IT services. We can use our strengths for good. We’re doing IT work, yes, but we’re here to serve a bigger purpose. We can make a positive impact in our society by our work, and partnering with GVP gives us a tangible way to contribute to our purpose.

Has this partnership benefited you externally, for example with clients or other partners?

We’ve been able to partner with Apple’s volunteer program, which has been a great opportunity for all three organizations. We introduced GVP to our local Apple team and within a few months, Apple employees were volunteering at the school by helping teachers best utilize their iPads and Macs in the classroom.

What is your hope for the future of your partnership with Global Village Project?

My hope is that GVP can continue to assist more girls, and extend their reach into more communities. If Foojee can play just a small part of their success, then I’m happy to continue partnering with them.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Sign up to volunteer! The stories I hear every time I visit just send chills down my back. GVP is on the front lines of restoring hope and building foundations to an underserved segment of our society. Here’s a video we made a couple years ago about the school to learn more.

Lucas Acosta of Foojee

Lucas Acosta is passionate about Apple technology and people. If it’s got an Apple logo on it, his company, Foojee, makes it work in business and education. Lucas has been converting Windows users since 1993 (at the age of seven).

When he’s not building Foojee, you’ll find him reading about tech and business, crafting fine coffee, running, catching up on his favorite TV shows, or hanging out with his wife, Cristina and their daughter, Emilia.

Website I Twitter I Facebook I LinkedIn

Here’s what Amy had to say.

Other than simply getting your IT needs managed, how has this partnership benefited GVP? What makes Foojee a good partner?

GVP was connected with Foojee in 2014—just as I was finishing my first year as Head of School—and I feel certain that our partnership has been foundational to the tremendous growth we have seen over the past four years. When we met, GVP was tightly strapped financially, and the pro bono work Foojee provided allowed us to broaden our services and our capacity across the board at a time when we could not otherwise afford to do so.

We were able to invest in new laptops, interactive whiteboards for our classrooms, online assessments and learning platforms for our students, and a STEAM and Career Exploration program because of what they were providing.

Foojee also acted as a powerful connector. They introduced us to Apple Education support services, Apple Store volunteers, and new potential friends and donors through their strong social media presence and the powerful promotional video they produced highlighting our partnership.

In addition to allowing us to expand and strengthen our services and our capacity to do the good work we do, Foojee provided us with knowledge, skills, and leadership that we desperately needed around IT and education.

Our partnership with Foojee has allowed us to build and develop a model STEAM program for refugee teenage girls with limited English and schooling and to enhance our program’s impact. GVP would not have been able to integrate and take advantage of technology in so many powerful ways without Foojee. They have provided invaluable support for our staff and students and directly and positively impacted the lives and learning of our students.

Foojee’s partnership has strengthened GVP in so many ways, including adding strength to our voice, our mission, and our vision of ensuring that refugee girls have the education they need to pursue their dreams. They believe in the work we do, stand beside us, and support us. We know that our strong collaboration allows us to join together to create a bigger impact in our community and dream a better world.

How do partnerships in general benefit both your internal and external culture at GVP?

In August we started our 10th academic year at GVP! Founded in 2009 by a handful of visionary volunteers with big dreams and a very brave first class of 30 students, GVP has become a place where we make a difference and dream a better world, one girl at a time.

Since our inception, we have served 225 refugee girls with limited English and interrupted formal schooling in our all-day academic program. Currently, 37 of our graduates have gone on to graduate from high school and 26 are enrolled in or have graduated from college.

Given that 75% of older newcomer refugee students do not complete secondary school and only 1% of refugees access tertiary education, we are proud to report that 96% of GVP alumnae who completed our program continue their education beyond our school. We depend on partners like Foojee to turn our dreams and our students’ dreams into a reality.

GVP’s founders understood the power of a strong community of support and imagined and created a place where a village of support enabled them to start and sustain a brand new school for refugee girls. GVP is the only school in the nation dedicated to educating newcomer refugee teenage girls.

We are certain that we have been able to make a difference for almost a decade now due to the strength and support we have found in our friendships and partnerships. We rely on our connections and relationships to influence our ways of thinking and doing, and are incredibly humbled by the opportunities our partners have opened to us. Together, we are transforming lives, our work, and our world.

What is your hope for the future of the partnership with Foojee?

I hope that our partnership will continue to develop and deepen with time. I see a future where we generate more recognition for the good work both organizations are doing, where we can help each other increase connections and meet new potential partners, and where the relationship is more evenly balanced.

Foojee has done so much for GVP, and we aim to give back to them in all the ways that we can. Specifically, I hope that we can continue to work thoughtfully and strategically to increase brand recognition and media coverage, to increase sales and funding, to attract new donors, volunteers, and clients, and to inspire change.

What do you wish more for-profit organizations knew about partnering with nonprofits?

Positive collaboration allows organizations to join together and make even bigger strides in bettering their community and improving the world. The end result of this kind of collaborative partnership is that both organizations are stronger.

Working with nonprofits can provide for-profit employees and leaders with a stronger sense of purpose, engagement, and create recognition for the good they are doing. Nonprofit partnership is a worthy and wise investment of resources.

Anything else you’d like to add?

We strongly believe in the power of collaboration and community—and in the power of each one in a partnership to positively influence and impact the other. We are deeply grateful to Foojee for their strong support and for the impact they are making in our school and in our students’ lives each and every day.

Amy Pelissero of Global Village Projec

Amy Pelissero is the Head of School at Global Village Project, a special purpose school for newcomer refugee teenage girls with limited English and formal schooling. She has more than 20 years of teaching experience with students from preschool through adulthood, and strong ties to the refugee community.  

Amy lives in Decatur, GA with her husband and two daughters, and loves reading, writing, travel, live music, and time with family and friends. 

Website I Twitter I Facebook I Instagram


Here’s a behind-the-scenes peek at a cause marketing partnership. Having an example to follow on the cause marketing journey can not only show you what a for-profit/nonprofit partnership looks like in action, but give you a glimpse of the magic it can create—on both sides.

Kristi Porter of Signify

I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing and consulting services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing, and business communications. I also teach solopreneurs and small businesses how to incorporate philanthropy and giving strategies. I believe that cause-focused organizations are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.

What You Need to Convince Potential Sponsors and Partners

Whether you're a nonprofit or for-profit social enterprise, chances are that you're on the hunt for a corporate sponsor or investor. It could be for a long-term initiative, upcoming event, or special campaign. 

And why wouldn't you be? Corporate sponsors and partners bring in new revenue, as well as a new audience that is potentially untapped by your organization or cause. Their benefits to you are crystal clear.

However, have you stopped to think about what you bring to the table? There's plenty in it for the companies you're asking as well. Never sell yourself short.

These kinds of collaborations are called "cause marketing," and friends, I have really good news. There is no better time for it, and I'm about to tell you why. The bad news is that you may have the wrong approach.

What you need to convince potential sponsors and partners to work with you

So, what do you need to convince potential sponsors and partners that they should work with you? While I might not actually call it easy, it is probably a little simpler than you think. And it begins with two things: some basic information and knowing your own value.

What is Cause Marketing?

The simplest definition for cause marketing is when for-profit corporations team up with nonprofit organizations for a mutually-beneficial purpose. This is the traditional mindset for us folks from the business world. 

Some examples include when you donate an extra dollar at the grocery store for a feed the hungry campaign at Thanksgiving, or the local car dealership sponsors a nonprofit event, or when many companies display pink ribbon products every October with proceeds going to breast cancer research.

But as with so many things these days, I think the lines have become a little blurred. So, I'm going to introduce two other options. The first comes with the new-ish model of social enterprises. (I love that they have disrupted business in this way!) In this vein, a form of cause marketing could be baked into the business model. One example is that Warby Parker partners with VisionSpring to provide glasses for those in need. It's the now famous one-for-one model pioneered by companies like TOMS. Warby Parker doesn't own VisionSpring, but that is the only nonprofit they partner with.

The second is more of a lateral sponsorship or partnership. This would be when similar companies or organizations partner for a greater purpose, either long- or short-term. One example is when various organizations create a coalition to further a cause. There are various anti-trafficking coalitions around the country, with members offering complimentary services to both survivors and the community. They can do more together than each would on their own. Another option might be when nonprofits or social enterprises combine efforts to host an event, and split profits.


Who Are Your Potential Sponsors and Partners?

1) The first place to begin to answer this question is by considering your goals. Is it to make some additional money? Greater awareness for your organization or your cause? To build a long-term relationship with a company that can help sustain you? As always, you need a strategy behind your ask. This will help get you a lot further, and whether you're aware of it or not, it will also come through in your conversations with the would-be sponsor or partner.

2) Next, consider existing relationships. It's tempting to shoot for the stars and go after the biggest dog around, but that may not be the most productive use of your time and effort. And it may just leave you more frustrated.

No matter how big your operating budget, relational capital is your biggest asset here. Relationships are everything, and you can't manufacture them. After all, if you owned a company with piles of money lying around, and knew of a worthy cause you could get behind, wouldn't you put your dollars there first? Yes, you would. (And can we be friends?)

I suggest actually creating a spreadsheet of your personal capital, and having any employees do the same. You may not need it right away, but you will at some point. Find those relationships that may be great funding, spreading the word, making introductions, or some other benefit to your particular organization. (Think: Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point.)

3) Next, make a spreadsheet of prime candidates for your sponsorship or partnership. This can include those in the relationship capital category, as well as others that come to mind. This will help you look at everyone objectively and all at once.

4) Finally, do your research. Does that company already have a charity or social mission partner? Do they have upcoming deadlines, or deadlines that have passed? Do they work with your cause, or have their own focus that's not a good match? For any companies that make the cut, this info will come in handy later for your presentation.

The Magic Bullet for Your Sponsorship or Partner Presentation

If the information above was a bit of a review for you, you'll need to hone in on this section. What you need to understand is that there has been a major shift in marketing the last few years—that directly relates to your presentation. 

Websites, emails, social media, and even presentations all used to be focused on you, the organization. No matter who you were, you could visit a website and the entire thing would be about them. That's not the case anymore. Everything is now "customer-focused." Meaning, even the language on your about page should include the person visiting your site. 

You have to repeatedly assume that someone who is reading your website, interacting with you on social media, listening to your podcast, or sitting in on your presentation is asking themselves, "What's in it for me?" You need to confidently be able to answer that question in everything you do. 

So, please don't skip that step when you talk to potential sponsors and partners. If you can make a compelling case for how working with you benefits them, you're almost there. 


The Secret Sauce is YOU

It's easy to think that whomever you're meeting with is the prettiest girl at the dance, and you're the awkward one standing in the corner trying to decide whether or not to ask her out on the floor. But, really, it's you! This is the really good news I alluded to earlier.

According to Cone Communications 2017 CSR Study, "consumers are no longer just asking, 'What do you stand for?' but also, 'What do you stand up for?' In today's tumultuous society, Americans expect companies to not only improve their business practices and invest in social issues that are aligned with the company, but to be a force for change in broader society."

And, guess what? That's where you come in! They also discovered that:

  • 87% will buy products and services based on their values, and 76% will boycott for the same

  • 78% want companies to address important social justice issues

  • 63% of Americans are hopeful business will take the lead to drive social and environmental change forward, in the absence of government regulation

Download the full report here. (And, by the way, these are great stats for your next sponsorship or event proposal!)

What all this adds up to is that you are the prettiest girl at the dance! These companies need you! Why? Because their customers want them to be involved in doing good, and they want to stay in business. Your organization is just as valuable to them as it is to you. It would be truly a mutually-beneficial relationship, and that should come through in your communication with them. Time to tango!

However, in your excitement, don't forget about the section above. Yes, companies might be actively looking for a "do good" organization to partner with, but you still need to show how you can benefit them. Expect to give as much as you take.


Additional Sponsorship Presentation Tips

  • It needs to look good. I hope this goes without saying, but as you are walking into a room to ask for something, your presentation needs to look professional. Keep it clean and simple with key thoughts and lots of white space. That doesn't mean, though, that you have to pay to have it done. There are tools that can help any novice look more professional.

  • Obey any guidelines. Many large organizations will have guidelines posted on their website, so be sure to look out for these. For example, they may not sponsor events. If that's the case, they may still be a good long-term partner and should be targeted for that ask later.

  • Watch for deadlines. Same as above, there may be specific deadlines you should adhere to. Or it may be that your campaign, initiative, or event doesn't line up with their budget year. For example, one client that I work with always hosts their benefit dinner in the fall. But some of the sponsors we solicit are already tapped out by that time. In that case, you should ask for a preferred timeframe to contact them again for consideration. You may be have to be more creative in your ask if details are scarce at that time, but if it's potentially a good fit, they'll be more willing to work with you.

  • Include stories and facts. Both are compelling. And people will invest when both their heads and their hearts are in it. Additionally, this will allow you to speak to what matters most for different kinds of people. We are all naturally drawn to stories, but facts help making a compelling argument.

  • Think past, present, and future. Show where you've come from, the current need, and how things could be different with help. Allow them to see not only what is, but what could be.

  • Be creative in your approach and tactics. While you may simply Google, "sponsorship presentation" or "event sponsor proposal" for ideas, don't just copy and paste. Remember to customize everything to your unique cause, organization, and abilities. In the "What's in it for me?" category, this could include simple ways that you'll make the process easy, like taking care of all the design work or providing a single point of contact. Or it may be more along the lines of specific holidays associated with your cause or specific to your geographic location.

  • Don't ask out of desperation, but confidence. I have a friend working on a short-term campaign, and she is struggling with her funding. She sent me the info that she intended to send out to some influencers, in hopes they would help promote. Frankly, it sounded desperate. People do not give to desperation unless it's a tragedy or natural disaster. So, she reworked her pitch with the magic bullet and secret sauce above, and it came out sounding much more like something people would want to be involved with.

  • Get help, if you need it. If you work solo, at the very least, get someone else to look over the proposal. That can be a peer, employee, intern or a friend with a good eye and understanding of what you're trying to accomplish. And depending on the size of the ask, you may want to hire a professional. This may include someone that specializes in sponsorships, a graphic designer, or a writer (<-- shameless plug). Here are some of my recommendations. And don't forget, you'll likely be able to use or adapt this information and resource multiple times—instant bang for your buck.

  • Include what makes you unique. As we talked about above, show off what sets you apart and makes you special. This could be a determining factor in their answer.

  • Include the company you're talking to. Don't save this for the Q&A at the end, Answer their question, "What's in it for me?" early on so it doesn't become a distracting thought in their minds while you're pitching your heart out.

  • Be specific in your ask. Everyone, both for- and non-profit, holds tightly to their funds. So, if you're asking someone to fork over their hard-earned cash, tell them exactly what it will be used for. If that part is still up in the air, offer some examples or make it clear that you're open to discussing what's best for the sponsor/partner. Don't make them wonder.

  • Hone the slide deck and presentation. Take a less is more approach, when possible. No one wants to sit through a long presentation, 200 slides, or even worse, someone just reading all those slides to them aloud. I'm falling asleep thinking about it. You don't have to be the best orator in the world, but hit your key points, back it up with only the slides needed, and let everything else be part of a conversation, not a presentation. Talk with them, not at them.

  • Follow up at an appropriate time, and in an appropriate way. Before you leave the meeting, ask if there is a preferred timeframe or method of communication for following up. Make it easy for them! And again, when you follow up, don't sound desperate. Even if you really are desperate, fake it till you make it ! :-)


One Final Note

We've talked about doing your research and some key pieces for your presentation, but there's a huge element I don't want to overlook: the human element. The best partnerships and sponsorships have a strong, relational component. Therefore, before you wow anyone with your snazzy presentation, you should begin with a conversation.

It doesn't matter if you already know the person or company that you're pitching to or not. Take someone out for lunch or coffee . . . maybe even on your dime. Get to know them and the organization. Don't start with your ask—start with their needs. 

After that, you'll begin to see where you can meet those needs, and consequently, become a huge asset to them, not just another charity. And, guess what, if you nail this aspect, it's also more likely that you won't have to be dependent on a razzle dazzle presentation to make your case. The presentation just becomes icing on the cake.


My friend, Mary Frances of Wellspring Living, is so good at this she could teach a class. Here's what she had to say.

Mary Francis Bowley quote, Wellspring Living

What has helped you secure a sponsorship or partnership? What else is a "must" for the perfect presentation. Tell me in the comments!


PSST: We’ve also built a sponsor presentation template if you need help getting started!

It’s customizable and easy-to-use, so all you have to do fill in your info and schedule the meeting!



The great news is that now is the best time for soliciting new partners and sponsors. The bad news is that you may be doing it wrong.

Kristi Porter, founder at

I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing, consulting and strategy services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing, and business communications. I believe that cause-focused organizations like yours are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.