How Tony added WOW factor to a £50,000 ask – the Chelsea trick

Chelsea Football Club’s latest shirt sponsorship deal is the largest they have ever had, and the second largest in Premiership history.

Whether you are a football / Chelsea fan or not, if you are in the business of fundraising, their innovative, award-winning strategy contains several neat techniques worth emulating.

Their approach was different to anything they had ever done:

They sent a personalised package to the CEOs of 250 successful global companies. If you were one of those chosen Chief Execs, in the package you would have first found a Chelsea shirt in your size, with your name and company name on the back.  You would also have found a laptop, pre-loaded with a film which helped you experience an alternate reality in which your company had become Chelsea’s sponsor. The bespoke film included fans celebrating with you on the street, cab-drivers gossiping with you conspiratorially and Chelsea stars scoring spectacular goals, with your company name on their shirt.

As a result of the packages, several companies expressed an interest in sponsorship. In the bidding war that ensued, the price increased until the Yokohama finally won the multi-year deal, with an estimated value of £250 million.

I counted five powerful techniques that innovative fundraisers can take from this story. But in this, Part 1 of my blog on the subject, here’s one idea for closing more big gifts and partnerships.

Bring the concept to life

In the age of You Tube, are you taking advantage of the technology revolution?

Several years ago the NSPCC created a bespoke film for one philanthropist to persuade him to invest £14 million in a brand new research centre. The stakes were so high that it made sense to create an outstanding film. The investment was justified and paid off, securing their largest ever single gift.

But what if you don’t have any budget?

Be bold and take risks with the resources you do have. Tony Gaston is a fantastic fundraiser from EMMS International who took part in the Major Gifts Mastery Programme in 2014. During the Programme he shared with the group what he did when a donor asked him to create a proposal.

In addition to the paper proposal he drafted, Tony contacted 3 colleagues based abroad where the funds would be spent. He asked them to make a short (2 or 3 minute) film using their smart phones, in which they answered the critical two questions – a) what is the problem faced by people there right now; and b) what difference would it make if you received more funds?

Importantly, he asked them to address the camera using the potential donor’s name and thanking him for considering a gift. In one week Tony received three authentic, persuasive films which he embedded in his proposal email to the donor.

The result?

The donor loved the bespoke films and called Tony make a gift of £50,000.

If you don’t have a budget, take heed – Tony’s brilliant smart phone film proposal did not cost a penny. On this occasion, an unpolished but authentic film, delivered within the week, was immensely powerful. He has regularly used the tactic to great effect ever since.

But Tony has also found that sometimes, spending a little on editing makes sense. Here is a short, inexpensive and powerful thank you film clip (still filmed by his colleagues) which was then edited by the excellent Jonathan from Colours Video.