Muyiwa Akande: Before Sending that Unsolicited Proposal

My role as Head, Corporate Communications of a large corporation with a responsibility that includes Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Sponsorship Management gives me the opportunity of receiving tons of both solicited and unsolicited proposals seeking my company’s partnership and sponsorship of one project or the other.

Receiving a huge number of proposals is unexpected as my company, SIFAX Group, has a reputation of supporting causes that impact the society in a practical way.

While the solicited proposals are usually responses to official requests and are less problematic to deal with, the unsolicited ones are a different ball game. There is nothing wrong with unsolicited proposals, particularly when you are desperate and many doors have been closed in your face, but there are some due diligence to be done before sending those CSR and sponsorship documents.

I will share 5 Key Factors.

1. Align Proposal with Company’s Objectives – Due to reason of strategy, various companies have different thematic areas or focus for their CSR and sponsorship initiatives. These could include climate change, health, education, economic empowerment, girl-child advocacy and entertainment, among others. It is therefore incumbent on those seeking sponsorship or partnership to research targeted companies in order to acquaint themselves with issues that will easily attract their attention.

Having this understanding will help tailor proposals in the direction of what will interest such companies. Corporate organisations are more favourably disposed to proposals that align and advance their sustainability objectives rather than random ones.

2. Be Clear on the Outcomes – Either a CSR or sponsorship programme, sponsors are always interested in outcomes and impact. A key part of the proposal must state in clear terms the accrued benefits to the company or how funding being sought will positively affect targeted audience. That’s why the proposal should be explicit on the objectives it seeks to achieve. Ensure you also build measurement metrics into the proposal to aid evaluation down the line.

3. Budget Cycle – Companies maintain different budget cycles. While some do January – December, others do April – March. You must understand the budget cycle of the company you are targeting for funding. This will help you submit your proposal at the appropriate time for it to be captured in the company’s approved budget. Not many corporate organisations are disposed to extra-budgetary provision for such projects.

4. Capacity to Fund – Especially for big-ticket projects, capacity to fund must be taken into consideration before proposal submission. You must be able to profile the companies you are targeting and be sure they have the financial muscle and will to fund your project. It might be difficult for a company that hasn’t gone beyond a N50 million sponsorship to be presented with a N1 billion project.

5. Aesthetics Matters – Make sure the aesthetics of your proposal is top-notch. Use of images, infographics, good colour combination, diagrams etc. would make your proposal appealing and distinguish it for attention, especially when there are many proposals to be considered. Ensure it is error-free as well. Error-riddled proposal would give you away as a sloppy person not good enough for any serious business relationship.


Muyiwa Akande is the Head of Corporate Communications at Sifax Group


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