Image for Engaging sponsors with s’more and cookie making

Engaging sponsors with s’more and cookie making

Learn how Real Food Real Stories secured 18 high caliber sponsors for its fundraiser.

We attended Real Food Real Stories’ year-end fundraising party in 2016. We were blown away by the number of great, well-aligned sponsors they secured - 18 to be exact for an 80-person fundraiser. They marketed the sponsors really well, which is probably why their sponsors keep on coming back. We got Pei-Ru’s advice to share with you all.

Pei-Ru Ko is the founder of Real Food Real Stories. Their mission is to humanize the food movement and inspire cultural and social change for a connected, healthy and just food system.

How far ahead did you start looking? 2 months!

How did you pitch to sponsors? Since we are a nonprofit that works to uplift changemakers in the sustainable food industry, we make sure to connect that with the food sponsors we are approaching.

How did you connect with the sponsors? Most did not have formal application process. Even if they do, we have been developing relationships since even further back. We almost didn't have one cold call.

Do you have any tips on how you arranged your gift baskets? We made sure they all had enough retail value, so you can raise enough money to make it make sense to organize the gift baskets. And we made sure they were things people would want for the holidays.

How did you choose to have a home as your venue for your event? We generally find home-like environment or transform a commercial space into one that is warm and cozy, because that is our brand and the environment we want to create for our community. It’s also a way to create safe spaces for authentic storytelling.

You had so many fun activities centered around your sponsors. Can you tell us about those activities? What advice do you have for others? We had a s’more making station with chocolates from Dandelion. The founder of Nana Joe’s granola also came and made cookies on site with her product. Smitten came and made ice cream live too!

I think many sponsors appreciate that, so they can actually have meaningful engagement with your audience. But some don't as well. Some are too busy to come to your event. But even if they don't show, if you can demonstrate ways that you'd have your audience really engage and get to know the product, usually sponsors would appreciate that.

Do you have any other tips for people seeking in-kind donations?

Relationship. And be sure to thank them online, offline, and through direct contacts. Everybody wants to be appreciated. People especially appreciate long term relationships, versus if you just "use" them once.

Photo credit: Real Food Real Stories.

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