Less is more. Simplify your marketing materials and website.
If you are just getting started, you probably don’t need a 15-page web site, and five different sizes of brochures.
Often charities will overdo the marketing materials because they think it makes them look more legitimate. Poor materials, whether in design or lack of meaningful content, hurt more than they help. One good quality piece of marketing material is enough to show a potential sponsor your commitment to excellence and what you are capable of producing with the right resources.
Remember, your website and marketing materials are the equivalent of a job resume for your charity.
A two-page resume lengthened with fluff is quickly set aside as blustering. The same applies to a start-up charity’s promotional materials.
If you don’t have the design skills, you might consider going to a local college with a design program and asking if they have a class that could take your charity's design work on as a project. Sites like volunteermatch.com also have designers who are looking to donate their skills to a worthy charity.
Make sure you can easily update your website.
Too many charities get caught up in the initial excitement of web design and forget to consider how easily they can maintain the web site. Charities should be able to update basic content on their web sites as easily as they would type in Microsoft Word or design in PowerPoint. I’ve seen too many websites with out-of-date content because the charities don’t have the money to pay the original web site designer to update the site, or the charities don’t have anyone who knows how to use the software needed to update it.
It might be tempting to have your best friend’s niece design the site for free, but if she is using software that you don’t know, don’t expect to find the time to learn it. Learning new web design software is probably going to fall way down on your list of priorities when you are running a charity.
You can set up a professional looking website that requires no HTML or other web coding experience using one of the simple templates available online from website building companies such as Strikingly.com and Weebly.com For the most part, they offer WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) editing so if you are familiar with Microsoft Word, you’ll be fine editing your site.
Make sure you use quality photos too. If you don’t have any, you can find free or fairly cheap stock photos online. Don’t feel compelled to use your own if they are not good quality. Unless they showcase the look and feel of an event you’ve had, feature a celebrity attendee, or something else unique to your charity, your own photos probably aren’t required.
Don’t bury the lead. Expect every potential reader to skim first to see if they think your materials are worth a closer read.
If you think you have something important to say, say it as succinctly as possible, as soon as possible, and then share the relevant details. It’s easy to lose perspective when you are too close to a subject. A helpful exercise is to talk-through the main points you want a reader to take away from your materials. You might try speaking it aloud as if you are in a brief conversation with someone (a version of an “elevator pitch.”) Then revisit what you’ve written. How easy is it to skim what you’ve written and find those key points? If it’s not easy, rearrange the content so it is.
Reconsider what’s important to your audience.
Your sponsorship deck is a sales tool. Corporate sponsors are often most concerned with media coverage, employee engagement, community goodwill, and sales leads. A secondary priority is the impact their donations will have and the day-to-day work of the charity.
The United States has 1.7 million public charities, with 94,000 new charities in 2014 alone. Imagine how many charities with compellingly worthwhile causes are also looking for money. Set yourself apart by being better prepared and leading with the information that most interests your sponsor.
Charities succeed in getting corporate sponsors if they set realistic expectations and think like the sponsor they are trying to sell.
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