Quadruple growth after an event’s second year is a metric that would appeal to most organizations. Triple the funding would put a smile on any charitable organizations face.

That’s exactly what happened when My Hometown Heroes (MHH) partnered with Euphotoria for its second annual event in April 2017. Over 250 people attended while $7,000 in scholarships were awarded to college bound cancer survivors for the Fall 2017 semester.

The partnership began in 2016 when fellow MHH board member, Jared Lindwall, introduced the two founders to one other.  Danny Heinsohn celebrated his 10th year of brain cancer remission in 2010 by founding My Hometown Heroes. Since 2011, MHH has awarded 57 scholarships to college bound cancer survivors from across the country.

Bridget Rosscup, another Northern Nevada native, is the founder and curator of Euphotoria – Photography for a Purpose. Her platform brings photography back into the classroom. In a world of digital devices, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, Euphotoria humanizes the craft to it’s native form, print.

Bridget, Danny, and the supporting cast of My Hometown Heroes are looking forward to its biggest and brightest event yet, on April 11, 2018.  If you’re a non-profit or a business that’s seeking a more meaningful way to engage with the community, check out these 5 strategies from Danny’s playbook on partnership activation.

1. ESTABLISH YOUR VALUE PROPOSITION

Before developing your sponsorship proposal, first answer the question, “What’s in it for the sponsor and why should they support your event?” Contrary to the passion behind the mission, businesses value brand recognition, measurable impact, and visibility through community partnerships.   Do your homework and show prospective sponsors how your non-profit creates value for them.

2. RALLY YOUR TRIBE

Who do you know, and who does your board know? There is strength in numbers. Thanks to second degree connections from our board, My Hometown Heroes sold out of sponsorship inventory nearly 4 weeks before our Charity of the Night feature with the Reno Bighorns on February 2, 2018.  The depth of your board and network is critical towards developing new supporters. Build a network of business partners who believe in and support your mission.

3. CREATE ALIGNMENT

Although you may have a great cause, sponsorship is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Many established businesses have alliances with long standing local non-profits. Some may have entirely different objectives altogether. However, many of them will want to create new partnerships to access new audiences or prospects.  Lead the charge by setting up a time coffee to establish rapport and learn more about their objectives.  Always follow up with next steps after your appointment.

4. PLAY THE LONG GAME

Be patient.  Anyone you meet throughout the year could be a potential sponsor or a direct referral towards a new sponsorship 6-12 months from now. Never miss an opportunity to follow up and allow your point contact to usher in the right decision makers. I always give a prospective partner the benefit of the doubt, knowing they probably have other priorities at the time. For one of our 2018 sponsors, persistence finally off paid after 20 months.  Timing is everything!

5. DEVELOP RELATIONSHIPS WITH THE MEDIA

With less than 7 weeks to prepare for the inaugural Euphotoria event in 2016, we quickly learned that the media would be critical to future success.  In 2017 we formed 9 media partnerships across print, TV, radio, and digital distribution channels.  In fact, one of our 2017 scholarship recipients attended Euphotoria because he heard about us through a magazine article that promoted the event. Attendance quadrupled in our second year and all of our sponsors benefitted through purposeful participation.

Visit www.myhometownheroes.org/euphotoria2018 to learn more and get involved with the 3rd Annual Euphotoria event – Photography for a Purpose.

(Article written by Danny Heinsohn, published in BizNevada, February 2018)