Contribution by Allen Davidov, Vice President, Business Consulting and NFP Sector Lead, Environics Analytics.

During an unprecedented period, such as the one we are all experiencing relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for immediate results is putting a lot of pressure on the not-for-profit sector. No different than it is on many small businesses across the country. Only being magnified by the notion that many of the revenue streams not-for-profits had been so reliant on, such as events that bring in sponsorship revenue or cause marketing partnerships, need to be cancelled due to the circumstances of the covid-19 virus.

With many struggling to keep their doors open or put contingency plans in place for these unchartered waters, the question of how to deliver on the fundraising needs, and over the long term manage the sponsor relationship are two of the many important questions being asked. 

Being in the charitable sector for nearly 15 years, I have experienced the pressure to manage and maximize sponsorship partnerships for events and cause related programs, and, find unique and innovative opportunities. Including during the last recession.

Now, having worked alongside hundreds of not-for-profit clients across Canada in my role here at Environics Analytics, I can see just how new learnings can be applied for the greater good.

What is Audience Data?

In many instances I am asked what Audience data is, and why would it be so valuable to my not-for-profit? Especially when I may be a fifth or tenth of the size of the well-known brands that have funds to market themselves or have a top of mind cause. How could I ever compete?

Simply put, Audience data is information about the constituents associated with your cause or not-for-profit. All your volunteers, donors, partners and staff. Whether that be 25 people, 250, 5000 or 500,000. The data would be information that you know about them. Not how much they have donated, or how many times they have volunteered, but demographics or brand related information that can be evaluated and leveraged to align with a corporate partner. Including volume, but I’ll get to that point in a minute, and the answer may surprise you.

Coming back to your audience, the question is always how much you know about them. What do they like? Or conversely what do they not like? How engaged are they and if they are, what is their behaviour like across different mediums or channels?

Lots of questions, but all that can help you position and utilize the “audience” you have associated with your not-for-profit, and how you capitalize on this. Some of this can be captured through surveys; whether at events, online or through e-blasts. Some of this can be provided through a partner like Environics Analytics. Who based on postal code level data, provide brand preferences across 14 categories such as Automotive; Grocery; Technology; Consumer Package Goods; Travel and so forth. 

How can I leverage Audience Data?

There are two types of sponsorships, one that is cause based where a corporation wants to get involved with a cause that important to them, or their workforce, and the secondary sponsorship is marketing based.

The audience data that I had mentioned earlier supports marketing sponsorships, where the corporate partners with a charity to leverage its constituents, or audience, to sell its product or service to those that most likely already purchase this type of product, or do so with a competitor.

That information and direct access to their target market is valuable to many companies, who already are spending quite a lot of marketing dollars to either acquire or conversely retain customers.  

Does size really matter?

While audience size or volume for cause partnerships can matter, for marketing partnerships it relates back to your corporate partner’s goals. If you are an automotive company or dealer looking to sell 5-10 cars, the audience you need to reach will be a lot smaller. Especially if the audience is either looking for your type of vehicle, or already is potentially a loyal brand customer potentially ready for an upgrade or change. By focusing their efforts on the highest potential prospects, they could save themselves thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars and be more targeted.

Now, that I know, what should l do?

In short, in many ways. 

I’d start by speaking to Heather Nelson at BridgeRaise about what you need to get started and to help you consider your options in this area, or Chris Baylis at the Sponsorship Collective who can help with valuation of your assets. Both have tremendous experience that could support you. Both by helping you put a value on your properties that can translate to customized proposals and opportunities based on your audience data and abilities to execute. And by assisting you with putting together your package and coming up with the right strategy and approach with your corporate prospects.  

And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Environics Analytics, who has access to over 30,000 data points at the six-digit postal code, that includes demographics, psychographics, brand consumption and behaviour data.  These data sets can help your organization crystalize who your audience is, and the corporations that would be the most viable to approach. Essentially providing you with a roadmap or corporate prospect list.

With the outlook for the Canadian economy now much blurrier than it was merely weeks ago, and many corporations projected to be increasing their spend to fight for the same limited consumer dollar, this is a great time to reimagine your sponsorship program as well as reposition how you will bring in additional revenues that can make a difference in your organization in the short and longer-term.

Allen Davidov leads Environics Analytics’ Not-For-Profit Practice. He has more than 15 years of experience helping charities of all sizes use #DataForGood to achieve their fundraising goals.

Allen Davidov, MBA, CM. is Vice President of Business Consulting and NFP Practice Lead at Environics Analytics.

With nearly twenty years of experience, he is responsible for helping charities and foundations apply EA’s products and services to attract and retain donors, corporate partners and volunteers. Prior to joining EA, Allen successfully led marketing, annual giving, leadership giving and event initiatives at a number of organizations, including Sinai Health Foundation, Habitat for Humanity GTA, Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation Ontario Region, St. John’s Rehab Hospital Foundation at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and North York General Hospital Foundation. Allen is also an active member of the Canadian Marketing Association Not-For-Profit Council and a member of Seneca College’s Marketing Advisory Council. He holds a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Liverpool, a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Ryerson University, a Creative Advertising diploma from Centennial College, and a Chartered Marketer certificate from the Canadian Marketing Association.