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How to Get Sponsorship for Your Nonprofit

Whether it's finding funding for female entrepreneurs or greening your neighborhood, you know your nonprofit is doing important work for others.

But the corporate sponsors you depend on for funding are primarily interested in what you can do for them.

Before you yell "scrooge," think of it this way: If sponsors based their sponsorship decisions solely on a nonprofit's good-cause pitch, they'd be throwing business sense to the wind.

What's In It for Them?

Nell Merlino, founder of the nonprofit organization Count Me In For Women's Economic Independence , walked into the office of Susan Sobbott, president of Open, the small business division of American Express (AXP - Get Report), armed with a goal to help 1 million women entrepreneurs reach $1 million in revenue by 2010.

But Merlino's noble plan wasn't the primary reason Open became the founding sponsor of Count Me In's Make Mine a $Million program in 2005. "The nonprofit needs to be supporting our business strategy in order to warrant a financial relationship," says Michelle Thompson-Dolberry, director of advocacy marketing for Open.

For many nonprofits, supporting a company's business strategy means granting them direct access to the nonprofit's demographic and the marketing opportunities that result.

Open, for example, uses information from Count Me In's focus groups to gauge how business owners are using products such as Open's business line of credit.

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