Every day, jewelers, manufacturers, designers, and retailers are asked to donate to good causes. So how do you determine what events you sponsor and what organizations you give to?
Consider corporate giving as a line item in your marketing budget. Work with organizations supported by individuals who fall into your target market. One of the first assignments I received from the late Wilfred Schein, then president of Schwarzschild Jewelers, was to attend events at all of the major museums in town to observe who supported them and if their supporters were part of our target market. Once we determined which organizations were appropriate as partners for the company, we investigated sponsorship and partnership opportunities they were offering.
Select a nonprofit partner with an active membership to benefit from an in-store event. Almost everyone has a tale of events that bombed even when a nonprofit partner that appeared to have the right clientele was involved. A case in point is a ruby promotion I once worked on for an independent jeweler. The store’s buyer had brought in an exhibition of rare rubies, including a ruby-studded brooch shaped like ballet shoes. Tying in the event with the local ballet company and its upcoming production seemed like a no-brainer. The ruby brooch was donated to the ballet company’s annual auction, and was promoted in its newsletter. The public was invited to attend the event and meet several of the dancers in costume from the ballet. Ultimately, very few people showed, and most disturbing was that no one from the board of the ballet bothered to attend. It was a learning experience.
Partner with organizations where the relationships will be mutually beneficial. I look for organizations where I can build long-lasting relationships and that have strong boards and members who come out to support in-store events held on their behalf. They aren’t that easy to find. It takes a lot of research and trial and error to come up with genuine partners.
Points to consider before partnering with groups. Will the organization provide an invitation list of key supporters for the event? Will it help promote your event through their newsletters, Web site, and meetings? Do the board members attend the events and encourage supporters to buy on behalf of the organization, and buy themselves? Is the collection you’re featuring at the event appropriate to present to the audience (for example, is the merchandise suitable for self-purchase or would a buy require consensus from a spouse)?
Corporate sponsorships and donations have come a long way since my assignment from Mr. Schein. Museums and organizations that once offered nothing in return for events now provide recognition in programs, newsletters, and invitations, and most offer sponsorship levels with different degrees of exposure and are open to negotiations and innovative ideas for funding sponsorships.