It’s easier to understand the power an intentional and well-designed brand has on a business. It is also easier to create a clean brand for a business that has one logo and one entity involved.
But what about a non-profit hosting a fundraiser with 20+ sponsors? The branding and marketing just got more complicated. How do you create a cohesive brand with so many logos and people involved? How do you evenly promote each sponsor? How do you do this on a limited budget so you can give as much money back to the cause?
I don’t claim to have all of the answers but I can share what we are doing the 3rd Annual Auburn Chili Cook-Off to benefit Storybook Farm. I have been apart of successful fundraising events in the past but this was the first time I was able to donate my time and talent in the form of branding, design, and marketing. This example may help you as a non-profit, a non-profit event planner, or a sponsor of a fundraising event.
First, what is Storybook Farm? Storybook Farm is a magical nonprofit ministry in Opelika, Alabama where courageous children faced with a variety of physical, emotional, social and cognitive challenges embrace and celebrate life through interaction with horses, dogs, cats, goats and other animals, as well as activities on the Farm!
Second, what is the Chili Cook-Off? Guests will have a fun day of sampling chili, listening to live music, competing in a corn hole tournament, playing in the kid’s zone, enjoying food trucks and drinks, and taking pictures with Aubie the Tiger. The sponsor cook teams also have fun by competing for the best chili recipe and team building!
Let’s dive into the 3 questions from above:
How do you create a cohesive brand with so many logos and people involved?
1. Establish a brand and personality for the event first.
I did not create the logo for this event because this is the 3rd year for the event. What I needed to do was evaluate the current logo and see how we could establish a color palette, fonts, and “look” for the event through graphics and images. While doing this, I needed to take into account the logo of the non-profit that was associated with the fundraising event - Storybook Farm. A couple of easy ways to incorporate the logos is to turn your logos white, use them in different areas, or put them side-by-side with a vertical line between them.
2. Identify all brand and event assets/deliverables
Though this sounds simple, it is very important to identify ALL of the items you need to design from the beginning so you can be strategic about logo placement, account for expenses that could be covered by sponsors (see last question for more on this), and reduce last-minute design needs that could incur more expense. This step can include everyone so they feel invested and aware of the marketing.
3. Create cohesion across print, social media, and website
In my experience, it is best to have 1-2 people design the assets you need for print, social media, and the website. The more people involved in the design, the more variation. If your planning committee or board was involved in step 2, they will have shared ideas so that you the creativity of many but the consistency of 1-2 people.
How do you protect the quality of the brand while promoting the sponsors evenly?
1. Make sure you receive the sponsor logos as a PNG (no white background). Ideally, you want an eps (vector) file of the logo to ensure resolution and ability to turn white if needed. You will need someone with design skills and Illustrator to fully use the eps file.
2. If you get logo files with white backgrounds, only place your logos on white backgrounds. People want to go to good events. The impression of a quality event is in the details. Don’t let your promotional materials look sloppy!
3. If you are able to turn all of your logos white, place them on a colored background. Just make sure that colored background is one of your brand colors!
4. There are times you need to place all logos together like a banner. Just make sure they are spaced evenly and size consistently. I try and limit putting 20+ logos together because they are no longer effectively promoting the businesses. This is why I recommend specialty sponsorships because you can create promotional materials that promote the sponsors more effectively. See more below.
5. You don’t always have to promote with a logo. Remember you can take pictures of your sponsors and post about them. You can include them in a video. You can talk about them on the radio. It takes a little thinking about it is more effective!
How do you brand an event well when you have a limited budget and need to give as much as money back to the cause?
While securing sponsorships is imperative (and hard work!), you also have to reduce your costs of the event. This is how I have helped other fundraisers increase their profits from the event. We created SPECIALITY SPONSORSHIPS to cover costs of the event. This benefits the cause but it also provides sponsors a creative way to promote their business before and during the event. They can potentially gain more exposure for their investment. And its a lot easier of a sale IF you can find an event need that relates to the sponsor’s business (Example: a kid’s zone for a pediatric dentist)
Each of the sponsors below have their logo on each of the items they are sponsoring. Some have custom signage created at the event, others have their branded vehicle at the event, all of them are promoted before and during the event on social media and encouraged to reshare.
For the Chili Cook-Off we secured the following specialty sponsorships.
This list may inspire you and how you can connect a business to an event need.
T-shirts sponsored by Ashley Miller | Remax Agent
Entertainment Sponsor (live music) sponsored by Auburn Network
Kid’s Zone sponsored by Liles Pediatric Denistry
Prize/Awards sponsored by Opelika Rotary
Breakfast for Cook Teams sponsored by Butcher Paper BBQ
Hydration Station sponsored by Anytime Fitness of Opelika
Cleaning/Napkins sponsored by Auburn Opelika Lifestyle | Prestige Properties
Cook Team Tents sponsored by Jackson Thornton
I hope this blog post helps other non-profits as they execute events. If you want others to invest in your cause, you need to invest time and effort into quality branding and marketing. The budget can no longer be the reason for a poor first impression.
RECAP OF NON-PROFIT FUNDRAISING BRANDING & MARKETING PROJECT
THE NEED #1: branding and marketing materials that would attract and become memorable
THE SOLUTION #1: create a cohesive brand across print materials, social media, and website
THE NEED #2: Promote sponsors well and uniquely
THE SOLUTION #2: Get creative with specialty sponsorships