Ken Goldstein, MPPA

Ken Goldstein has been working in nonprofits and local government agencies from Santa Cruz, to Sacramento, and back to Silicon Valley, since 1989. He's been staff, volunteer, board member, executive director, and, since 2003, a consultant to local nonprofit organizations. For more on Ken's background, click here. If you are interested in retaining Ken's services, you may contact him at ken at

Monday, January 22, 2007

More on corporate sponsorship: Good news and a warning

Last week, I reported about how mergers and changing corporate priorities can put nonprofit funding at risk. Today, I've got some good news to help you retain those corporate sponsors.

There's new data that demonstrates that businesses that donate to charities earn back $6 in sales for every $1 they contribute.
The businesses that are more likely to enjoy this return are those that sell directly to consumers, such as retail, financial institutions, and electronics manufacturers. This is likely because these companies can and do advertise their giving to the general public. Wal-Mart Stores, for instance, is planning to broadcast a national TV ad that touts its charitable contributions.
Yes, this is good data to bring to your meetings with potential sponsors. And, yes, companies should not be afraid to brag about the good works that they contribute to (don't fight it, this gives your nonprofit additional free publicity). But, it's not without ethical questions.

Because when you post a companies banner at your event, or place their logo on your website or annual report, you are essentially advertising for them - and when they advertise their good deeds they are strengthening the perceived link between you and them - all nonprofits must consider the company they keep, not just the dollars they raise.

What I mean is, you really have to consider how compatible your mission is with their product. Many organizations have already made strong points of refusing tobacco or alcohol money, but there may be other, less obvious compatibility issues you should consider.

Before you accept sponsorship from that building development company for your job training program, have you checked on their labor practices or history of labor disputes? When the grocery store supports your drug treatment program, do you look into their marketing of alcohol?

I'm sure I've written about this before, but this is a conversation your management and board should have before the question arises. Have a policy on what types of companies you will go after, and what types of companies you will refuse. And then, when you go after the ones that fit, let them know about that 6 to 1 return on their investment.


  1. Ran across this while searching for corporate event planning. Interesting facts and figures . . . thanks for sharing.


  2. I agree with your ideas and recommendations. The policies also should include guidelines about what is acceptable and appropriate for activation and what would cross cultural lines of acceptability. Anyone selling sponsorship, non-profit or for-profit, has a responsibility to create conditions and environments that not only fit culturally but also that frame the corporate partner in the best light.

    Gail Bower, Bower & Co. Consulting LLC
    Helping non-profits increase visibility, revenue and impact.