What is a sponsorship?

Any cash or in-kind service provided to a property, such as a race, sports, or non-profit event, in return for access to the potential commercial assets associated with that property.

What does that mean?
Corporate sponsorship is essentially a means of marketing for the sponsoring company. Unlike other charitable contributions, a corporate sponsor is usually motivated by a desire to receive a public acknowledgment in exchange for its support. Sponsor funds will often come from their marketing budget rather than their philanthropy budget. According to IEG¬ís Complete Guide to Sponsorship, "Sponsorship should not be confused with advertising. Advertising is considered a quantitative medium, whereas sponsorship is considered a qualitative medium. It promotes a company in association with the sponsee."

Some reasons companies sponsor events is to increase brand loyalty, add credibility, create awareness & visibility, showcase community responsibility, differentiate their products from competitors, or to change/reinforce their image, just to name a few.

In the case of the Out of the Darkness Walks, we are selling a partnership with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, leaders in the fight against suicide, in exchange for promotional assets, which may include things such as logo placement and links on our website, mentions in email newsletters to walkers, verbal acknowledgement at our events, product distribution at events, logo placement on t-shirts, signs etc... 

Why should a company partner with AFSP's Out of the Darkness Walks? (Elevator Pitch)

Suicide is one of the leading causes of death, and yet suicide prevention doesn't get anywhere near the research funding given to other leading causes. We need to create a culture that's smart about mental health.

In the last 10 years, AFSP has grown from a grassroots network of researchers and volunteers into a national movement of 75 chapters across the country. AFSP is also the largest private funder of suicide prevention research, and because we've built the infrastructure to deliver evidence-based programs to local communities across the country, our work impacts millions of people. We are consistently ranked one of the best charities for mental health, and we are powered by everyday heroes like our walkers, volunteers, donors, and sponsors.

Getting Started With Sponsorships:

  • Create a sponsorship committee (see People Power section of manual for tips about developing volunteer committees)
  • Start with your existing networks - make a list of existing and previous professional and personal connections to reach out to.
  • Research and understand your targets (previous and new) - your proposals should be customized to your sponsors - find out who they are sponsoring, at what levels, what they like/dislike or will/won't support, understand what your participants will/won't support, visit them to get a sense of if it will be a good fit. Make sure their name is always spelled correctly.
  • Start with a personal visit or phone call - bring some "swag" (brochures, promotional goodies, etc)
  • Be enthusiastic and persistent
  • Don't apologize for asking

Key Points to Note:

  • Agreement before Activation - It may take a while to get a signed contract, so be patient, but if you don't have a strong verbal agreement to follow up on, don't proceed. Benefits will only be activated once the signed contract is provided.  Not only does the signed contract provide verification that the sponsorship is valid, but it also grants permission for logo use.

    For this reason, we cannot post a sponsor logo to the walk website or on the walk t-shirt without first having the signed sponsor agreement.  

  • Pay attention to activation costs. Make sure you don't spend more to meet sponsor expectations than the sponsorship provides you. Promotions cost time and money. All sponsorship types (in-kind and monetary) should be at your minimum sponsorship level (which should be $250 or more) in order to qualify for sponsor benefits. For example, if your minimum sponsor level is $300 and someone is donating a product such as food or water to your event, they must donate at least $300 worth of product in order to qualify for sponsor benefits. If their product donation is valued below the minimum sponsor level, you should still have them complete the in-kind donation form (linked below) so we can provide them with a tax receipt, and you can still publicly thank them, but they would not be considered an event sponsor and will not receive logo placement on the walk website.
  • Make sure you're able to execute and fulfill all of the benefits you are offering. You should work closely with your AFSP Division or Area Director to customize the template below to come up with a sponsor packet that is right for your market.
  • Sponsorship revenue can be applied to the event only - not to an individual participant or team. Since the sponsorship is an exchange for promotional assets that are owned and provided by AFSP, the revenue must be applied to the event. If an individual or team plays a role in helping to secure an event sponsor, you should certainly thank and acknowledge the individual/team, and we are happy to discuss options for doing so on a case-by-case basis.

Resources and tools to reach out to corporate sponsors:

Sponsor Cover Letter TEMPLATE
Tweak this letter with information about your walks, chapter, community, etc. If you would like to include national statistics, you may note that in 2014, the AFSP Out of the Darkness Community Walks Campaign took place in 330 cities nationwide with more than 165,000 participants walking and raising over $12.5 million. 

Sponsorship Packet TEMPLATE
Use this packet as a template for getting started. Please discuss appropriate levels for your market with your AFSP Division or Area Director and make proper adjustments to your packet before soliciting potential sponsors.

Tax Information for Donors:

AFSP is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization incorporated in the state of Delaware with primary offices in New York City. All AFSP chapters are considered local offices of the parent organization.

Our Federal tax ID # is 13-3393329. AFSP's Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) number is 10545. All donations to AFSP are tax deductible.

Downloadable AFSP Tax Information and Forms can be found at http://www.afsp.org/about-afsp/financial-information
View AFSP's Annual Report 

Additional Resources:

In-Kind Donation Form
This form should be completed by a business donating a service or product valued below the sponsorship level so they may receive a written acknowledgment from AFSP for tax purposes. The form MUST include a value and MUST be signed by a company representative in order to receive tax credit.

Offline Donation Form
This form should be completed by an individual or business wishing to make a general offline contribution (non-sponsorship) to the event or an event participant. Please mail a copy of the form with the payment (check or money order) to AFSP, Attn: Data Entry, 120 Wall Street, 29th Floor, New York, NY 10005