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Stellar Partnerships

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What’s the right price for my corporate partnership proposal?

The issue that many charities struggle with is how much to ask for when pitching to a corporate partner.

Does that solve your problem? No, of course not. In my favourite sci-fi TV series, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, the travellers ask Marvin the all-knowing robot the answer to the meaning of life. His answer is 42. That’s as helpful to them as it is to your perennial problem of pricing a corporate partnership.

The real issue is that there’s no definitive answer. But there are important things you can do to make sure you have a compelling and appropriate price on your proposal.

1.      Understand what your prospective partner values

There’s no use in crafting an offer full of things they don’t value. When one of our clients sought partners for their gala ball, they created a neat package of promotion, speaking and marketing benefits for their corporate prospects. But what one partner was really interested in was more volunteering opportunities with this wonderful charity. You won’t know what your prospective partner values until you do an in-depth discovery meeting with them, backed up by some thorough research. In this case, the marketing, banners and logo placements were irrelevant to this partner, because they were looking for staff engagement. The charity would have wasted a lot of effort in providing benefits that had no value to the corporate.

2.      Understand what you’ve got to offer

This simply means compiling a comprehensive catalogue of your assets and strengths. But don’t just list the items, get into the detail. For example, if you have a database of 10,000 supporters can you describe them? Do you have demographics, locations, typical buying behaviours, frequency of their communications? You might have a very valuable audience for a corporate partner, but they won’t see the benefit if you can’t describe it.

3.      Look at comparative or substitution values

This is a fancy way of saying, how can your prospective partner get the same benefits elsewhere and what would that cost. For example, what would they pay for advertising to a similar audience? Or what do they get for supporting another of their community partners. When we worked with febfast a while ago, they pitched to a company making fruit cordials. This company were considering spending $30,000 on back of bus advertising or supporting febfast. That gave febfast some parameters around their appetite and budget, which helped to shape their offer.

4.      Remember the premium that comes with partnering with your charity

We are often asked to value an asset catalogue and give a dollar amount. The answer is likely to be as helpful as Marvin the robot’s 42. So what if we measure your marketing assets against an advertising ratecard and tell you they’re worth $50,000? It’s useless if you haven’t figured out what your corporate partner actually finds valuable. More importantly, the corporate isn’t just buying a commercial product, they’re choosing to partner with you. Anecdotal evidence from the UK and US suggests that the premium of doing it with your charity is at least twice the market rate. You don’t sell a Rolls Royce at the cost price for its components, so don’t undersell the brand, reputation and goodwill that comes with your charity.

So, if you’re struggling with how much to ask from your corporate partner, you need to do your homework. You need to understand first your partner’s priorities and what they value and be prepared to shape your pricing based on a thorough understanding of what you’ve got to offer. It’s different for every corporate, so do test their appetite and priorities.

Marvin the robot won’t be able to tell you the right price, but you’ll be able to find it for yourself with some simple preparation- and it will be different each time.