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    One of best ways to get your name out in the community is by sponsoring local nonprofits and charitable events. Your support not only offsets costs, it can also provide legitimacy or authority to an organization or event.

    Making a difference

    From a business perspective, sponsorship serves a dual purpose. First, it shows you take a serious interest in the community. Second, it’s an effective way to promote your brand. The return on this type of marketing may be hard to estimate at the outset, but over time both you or your brokerage’s contribution and name recognition will go a long way in promoting your business. And, sponsorship comes with tax benefits that can help defray some of the cost.

    If you’re a sole proprietor and concerned that you can’t afford to sponsor a little league team, not to worry. Sponsorships are generally offered in levels of participation. Starting on a lower tier is one way to test the waters. Another way to make sponsorship more affordable is by co-sponsoring. Also, depending on the type of nonprofit you’re supporting, rather than providing cash you can be an “in-kind” sponsor. This means in lieu of cash you provide services in exchange for having your company’s logo and contact information included on all promotional marketing materials.

    Depending on both your budget and commitment, there are many local nonprofit organizations and associations that would appreciate your support. Types of support include:

    • Financial Sponsorship – Choose a particular charity event to sponsor or co-sponsor annually. For example, you could sponsor a race, food drive, or an auction that supports a cause you are particularly passionate about. You could also support a local sports team or school marching band.
    • Media Sponsorship – Support local TV programing, such as financial news or underwrite a local National Public Radio program during “drive time.”
    • Signature Sponsorship – Sponsor or co-sponsor a local chamber of commerce business workshop, conference, or seminar. Add more visibility through your participation. Present on local market conditions or first-time homebuying in tandem with local lenders, title companies, or closing attorneys.
    • Location Sponsor – If you have a large meeting room, invite a local nonprofit in to present to your staff or hold a blood drive — both are excellent PR opportunities.
    • Labor Sponsor – Donate time and talent to assist with a local clean-up project. Your team outfitted in t-shirts with your logo offers another chance to get your name out in the community and makes for great PR.
    • Special Needs or Gifted Sponsorship – Sponsor an individual to participate in the Special Olympics or sponsor a spelling bee winner to participate nationally.

    While sponsorship by its very nature is a more akin to advertising where you’re not singling out a particular demographic, that doesn’t mean you can’t target an income or age-specific audience. Want to reach millennials? Sponsor a local music festival. Want to engage a more affluent segment in your area? Support a local museum, art gallery, or theater. Want to reach a wide swath of the community? Support local schools, which are always in need of basic school supplies, athletic equipment, art supplies, and musical instruments.

    Sponsorship is unique in that it’s the one form of marketing that can make a difference for your community and your business. Give consistently and often and you’ll reap multiple rewards.

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