Sponsorship & CSR


Whilst Sponsorship and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) may seem like the same thing, it's very important to understand where they are similar but also where they differ.


Understanding Sponsorship

At Heaward Solutions, we are experts in getting the best from sponsorship for both businesses and community organisations receiving sponsorship.

Sponsorship and Businesses:

There is a real risk that sponsorship can be ineffective and at best represent an ‘accidental donation’ especially when fairly small scale sponsorship is offered.

Given this, whatever your sponsorship expenditure, developing a clear plan for how any budget you commit to sponsorship will generate a clear commercial return is vital, as is finding a suitable community partner who understands the need to provide a return on investment and has planned for how they will do this.

Sponsorship for Community Organisations:

Sponsorship is a fantastic way for community groups to secure valuable unrestricted funding however far too often it's done badly. The key to building a mutually beneficial commercial sponsorship based relationship with local businesses is developing a clear plan before asking for sponsorship. This should start by identifying which businesses you already have links with, what you are able to offer a potential sponsor which will deliver them meaningful commercial outcomes and most importantly how you will manage any sponsorship once it is secured to ensure that your sponsors receive the expected benefits, remain engaged and become long term supporters.

The following three topics define what makes for effective sponsorship:

Business Relationship

Sponsorship should always be an entirely commercial transaction where the sponsor receives benefits directly from the organisation they sponsor in exchange for a payment. This payment can take several forms but is normally financial in nature but may also include things like services, premises, or equipment at a reduced or nil cost.

Finding sponsorship is one of the hardest tasks in the fundraising world and can be incredibly frustrating especially for smaller community groups who have less of real commercial value to offer a sponsor. There are several things that can be done to reduce this frustration and provide the best possible chance of success. Heaward Solutions can help you identify and implement the strategies that are best suited to your needs.

Working Together

It is vital for organisations seeking to attract a sponsor to establish the expectations of their potential sponsors and work hard to meet these. Ensuring a professional approach is adopted is vital, as is making sure that the sponsor feels valued and respected. Of paramount importance is to ensure that the agreed return on investment for your sponsor is delivered. This can only be achieved by maintaining regular contact with the sponsor across the agreed term of any deal.

No Two Sponsorships Are the Same

Sponsorship benefits can be extremely varied and what is important to one sponsor may not be to another, common elements include:

  • Staff benefits
  • Media exposure
  • Corporate hospitality opportunities
  • Brand awareness and exposure
  • Positive PR
  • Marketing opportunities, especially where these are focused directly on a desired customer group

CSR and Your Business

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is an area of running an ethical and socially conscious business that has become increasingly important in recent years. In essence, it recognises that businesses which value and embrace sustainability and who understand the importance of connecting with and supporting their communities, are likely to see an indirect commercial benefit from this. In this context ‘community‘ can be defined by location or common interests.

Unfortunately despite the growing engagement of businesses and especially SMEs in CSR, all too often this can be ineffective in delivering business outcomes. Equally, CSR and commercial sponsorship, which are different but related activities, often get confused leading to disappointment at all levels, poor outcomes and even negative reputational impacts.

What is CSR?

In comparison to sponsorship, CSR is rooted in a more general understanding from a business that supporting their community in some way, be that a geographical community or a community of interest, is valuable in itself and may also bring with it indirect benefits.

The benefits of CSR are often things like goodwill and an improved perception/profile within the community, of course, CSR may also have a less obvious direct return as a result of the community feeling more positive towards a business.

Whilst not unknown, it is less common for CSR to take the form of a direct financial contribution, instead, it often includes things like the loan of staff from a business to offer their time and skills to support a community group or project, or help with a specific fundraising activity.

The gift of either free or reduced-cost goods, services may also be offered or permission to use a business’s assets such as premises or vehicles. In many cases, CSR also connects closely to considerations for a business around sustainability.

We have an excellent understanding of this process and can help businesses and community groups maximise the benefits from both Sponsorship and CSR. We can help by produce sponsorship and CSR policies, develop sponsorship proposals and provide a bespoke sponsorship and CSR research and matching service.

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