At ZipSprout, we specialize in micro-sponsorships, meaning most clients who come our way aren’t looking to be the title sponsor of a nonprofit fundraising event. They’re doing local good, but they’re working with multiple organizations in each region.
We get a lot of clients asking how much to budget for local sponsorships, and we also speak with a lot of local organizations who are flexible with prices, or who aren’t sure how much to ask for in donations. The ultimate purpose in donating to a nonprofit is to do local good, so if it takes a team more time and effort to process and fulfill a sponsorship than the cost of the sponsorship itself, it’s wise to up the sponsorship level. In fact, in our ongoing survey of local organization leaders, 64% said that they come up with sponsorship levels simply by comparing prices with their organization’s peers.(1) But looking at the numbers at scale can tell a different story, for donors and for organizations.
How to Budget for Local Sponsorships
We don’t recommend ZipSprout clients, or ZipSprout blog readers, to stick to any one price range. As you’ll see below, each price range opens up opportunities in new cities, or with increasingly better-known organizations. But donating a few hundred to a smaller organization in a less busy metro area can be just as beneficial for local ranking and branding. It all depends on your target goals and budget. At the same time, limiting a budget too much when aiming for a larger metro area can mean a lot of missed opportunities.
When searching for local sponsorships, we recommend establishing an “average cost” budget, meaning that the average cost of all sponsorships will hit, say $700. This opens you up to potential $1200 sponsorships, as well as smaller, $200 little league donations, to balance out the bigger donations. Seeking an average instead of targeting for a particular dollar amount with each sponsorship gives donors flexibility to meet their target market where it lives.
The Under $200 Sponsorship
20.32% of the opportunities in ZipSprout’s database have sponsorships in this range. 20.32% of ZipSprout’s partner opportunities have their lowest sponsorship level in this range.
For most organizations, such small-scale sponsorships just don’t make sense from a logistical perspective; it’s simply not worth their time.
There are some organizations, typically youth sports teams, who do offer sponsorships at this level. These teams, run by volunteer parents, are often happy to receive extra money for t-shirts, sports supplies or the end-of-season party. However, because the organization is run by busy parents, it can sometimes be more difficult to touch base with these organization leaders, especially during business hours.
So, while there are a decent number of sponsorships at this level, we’ve learned there is also an increasing time investment on the part of the sponsor to touch base and ensure fulfillment.
The $250-$499 Sponsorship
33.66% of the opportunities in ZipSprout’s database have sponsorships in this range. 19.79% of ZipSprout’s partner opportunities have their lowest sponsorship level in this range.
Sponsorships at this level are a bit more common in smaller cities. Small hyperlocal nonprofits may offer their lowest sponsorship level in this range, as a general donation, or as part of a fundraising event. Sponsorships at this level may come with a link & logo on a web page, maybe a social media shout-out, or even a logo on an event sign. The branding is minimal, but for enterprise businesses looking for web presences in middle America (i.e. – a city where rent prices are still at least somewhat affordable), this range is do-able.
The $500-$749 Sponsorship
52.44% of the opportunities in ZipSprout’s database have sponsorships in this range. 18.32% of ZipSprout’s partner opportunities have their lowest sponsorship level in this range.
This price range is a typical starting point for local sponsorships in large cities (NYC, LA, SF, Chicago, Dallas), or for larger, and perhaps more prominent, organizations in any city.
In smaller cities, this could be where you get into the second tier sponsorship level, especially for some smaller organizations. With this level could come free tickets, a booth, or the opportunity to hand out literature at a fundraising event, in addition to a website presence. This opportunity for branding provides businesses with a true-local presence in their target region.
The $750-$999 Sponsorship
12.79% of the opportunities in ZipSprout’s database have sponsorships in this range. 3.18% of ZipSprout’s partner opportunities have their lowest sponsorship level in this range.
This is a funky zone. While not many local organizations have starting sponsorships at this level, as an “average price,” we find that $750 per opportunity works pretty well. It allows businesses the flexibility to sponsor organizations at the $1000 level, as long as they’re balanced out by some $500 sponsorships. This zone should be considered an average to aim for, but not a sponsorship level to look for in particular.
For local organizations, this info may inspire some price restructuring. For organizations whose sponsorships start at the $1000 level, knowing that there’s a dearth of sponsorship opportunities at this level opens up the room for courting sponsors looking slightly under the $1000 budget range.
The $1000-$1499 Sponsorship
54.56% of the opportunities in ZipSprout’s database have sponsorships in this range. 12.54% of ZipSprout’s opportunities have their lowest sponsorship level in this range.
There are quite a few organizations whose minimum event or general donation sponsorship level is $1000. Typically, these are well-established organizations, or events, with significant reach. Or, they may be organizations located in cities like NYC or Los Angeles, where operating costs are too high to ask for anything less.
The $1500-$2200 Sponsorship
31.13% of the opportunities in ZipSprout’s database have sponsorships in this range. 7.48% of ZipSprout’s opportunities have their lowest sponsorship level in this range.
Local sponsorships in this range typically mean organizations in larger metro areas and full-time staff members dedicated to donor concerns.
Sponsorships above $2201
71.61% of the opportunities in ZipSprout’s database have sponsorships in this range. 18.2% of ZipSprout’s opportunities have their lowest sponsorship level in this range.
Yes, this category is a catchall. Sponsorships can range from the low thousands up to the hundreds of thousands. Firmly established organizations with a secure donor base are less more concerned with maintaining their current sponsor list than with finding new sources of funding, and rightfully so – the adage that retention is easier than acquisition is as true in the nonprofit world as it is in marketing. Sponsorships above the $2200 range are beyond the level of hyperlocal sponsorships, and while we do curate them in the ZipSprout database, they are not frequently a part of micro-sponsorship campaigns.
Conclusion – There are many patterns, but no rules
There’s no one size fits all. Local organizations vary as greatly as the people who run them. Some focus on corporate donors, others on individuals, and still others see grants as the best funding option. But most are not expecting to hear from potential business donors; usually, chasing happens in the other direction. If local giving is part of your brand’s mission, then pursuing hyperlocal sponsorships with a budget range in mind can help set expectations across the board.
(1) From a SurveyMonkey.com hosted survey of local organizations who have worked with ZipSprout.