Business Essentials: Sponsor sought to keep budding Billy Elliots on their toes

National Youth Ballet has to raise new funds or the curtain will come down on school visits, writes Kate Hilpern

Founded nearly 17 years ago, the National Youth Ballet of Great Britain (NYB) is the country's foremost ballet company for young people. Its productions range from adaptations of well-loved children's stories to impressionistic snapshots of young lives, and many of its dancers go on to have careers with the Royal Ballet and on the West End stage.

Founded nearly 17 years ago, the National Youth Ballet of Great Britain (NYB) is the country's foremost ballet company for young people. Its productions range from adaptations of well-loved children's stories to impressionistic snapshots of young lives, and many of its dancers go on to have careers with the Royal Ballet and on the West End stage.

The curtain went up last week on the company's latest tour, with a performance of Wonderland: Scenes from Alice at the Sevenoaks Playhouse. The NYB will next be seen at the Birmingham Hippodrome (7 November) and the London Palladium (15 November).

"But there's another equally important side to the business," says the company's founder and director Jill Tookey. "Every year, we run an outreach programme, which involves taking ballet into schools. It's incredibly popular because it introduces primary school children to dance in a simple, fun and vibrant way and shows them that it's not elitist."

The problem is that while the outreach programme has been sponsored for the past few years by the HSBC bank, that money has now come to an end and the NYB is desperate to locate new funds. Like many small companies and charities, it cannot afford to employ an in-house marketing expert, but if it is to keep up its good work, it will need to find new sponsorship - and soon.

"We don't know which companies to target or how to approach them," admits Ms Tookey. "Should we go for firms connected with children or should we go for the really big companies we know are already involved in sponsorship - Waitrose or Orange, for example? And how can we get them interested? Is there a way of putting our offer across to them that is likely to make them sit up and listen?"

Based in Edenbridge in Kent, the NYB has for the past eight years been sending its outreach team - made up of a choreographer, a pianist, a co-ordinator and a make-up artist, all professionals paid at the going rate - to run workshops in schools around the UK. Workshops involve entire classes and every child is given the opportunity to wear a costume and be made up. No class is too much of a challenge; indeed, the NYB regularly works with children who have learning disabilities.

"We started off by getting tiny amounts of sponsorship from local bank branches - enough to do two or three workshops," says Ms Tookey. As the NYB grew, it attracted more funding and eventually, in 2000, the company hit gold when HSBC came on board.

"They'd agreed to sponsor a number of youth companies for a period of three years, and we received £25,000 for our outreach work alone," Ms Tookey continues. "It was wonderful because we could properly plan which areas we could go to, and these ranged from Manchester to Swansea to Birmingham to London. We covered a lot of ground."

With the end of HSBC's sponsorship, however, the NYB hit crisis point. Ms Tookey managed to raise some money from the W Garfield Weston Foundation, a private charity. "That meant we could do some workshops last year," she says. "But I wrote to 20 [potential sponsors] and it was the only one to respond positively."

It isn't just the children taking part who enjoy the workshops. Teachers are also enthusiastic supporters. In a letter that illustrates the value of its school visits, one music teacher recently wrote to the NYB: "It was so important to show other staff just how important the creative arts are in developing the children as whole people, and how this creative stimulus can be channelled into other subjects."

www.nyb.org.uk

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY

John Greenhough, head of business development at the Chartered Institute of Marketing

"The NYB should contact Arts & Business, a not-for-profit organisation that specialises in forging creative partnerships between business and the arts. It can provide advice on how to approach sponsors, and may be able to suggest businesses looking for sponsorship in the arts sector.

"Next, the NYB needs to compile a clear proposal to present to potential sponsors. It should identify key goals of its outreach programme, and list a number of different sponsorship levels (regional, national, etc) to allow greater flexibility. Most importantly, it should spell out the value of its work to the sponsor. Let sponsors know that their participation can form a part of marketing campaigns, and that exposure through both the sponsorship itself and potential PR can provide an excellent return on investment.

"Look for sponsors with a natural connection to the outreach audience - perhaps those with a keen interest in the arts, as well as those who have an affinity with children."

Andrew Litchfield, head of social and environmental responsibility at the Nationwide building society

"First, the NYB should understand its strengths and what they mean to a sponsor. To me, the project offers utter professionalism, reassuring the sponsor of high quality and effective delivery, and a strong focus on social inclusion. This last point is an important consideration for businesses as they develop their corporate social responsibility programmes.

"When approaching a potential sponsor, remember this request will probably be one of a hundred received every week - it needs to stand out. These three things may help:

* Research your target. What is its sponsorship policy? What is the name and job title of the person deciding which projects to sponsor?

* Prepare a proposal that is relevant to the target sponsor, clearly stating benefits, costs and timescales.

* Be brief. Keep your proposal to a maximum of two pages. Illustrate it with a powerful photograph, and include a verbatim comment from a teacher or participant in the outreach project. Then make a polite request for a meeting.

"Finally, consider multiple sponsorship. While this would involve a little more work, it would obviate the risk of losing all of your funding at a stroke."

Barry Franklin, business adviser, Business Link for London

"If full-time in-house marketing expertise is too costly, the NYB could consider engaging a PR specialist or sponsorship consultant on a project-only basis. Many consultants have expertise in fundraising, corporate communications, public relations and marketing strategies. Seek someone with a track record - ask for and check their credentials. External expertise may also be helpful in developing staff fundraising and proposal-writing skills.

"Sponsorship is a mutually beneficial business partnership. A sponsor may be attracted by:

* Its logo appearing on charity materials.

* Mention of its products or services at events.

* Endorsement of its products using the charity's logo on packaging and promotion.

"Don't undervalue your good name by selling sponsorship too cheaply, and avoid sponsors whose reputation or activities could reflect badly on you.

"Target organisations with some affinity to your charity and customise your letter specifically to them. What must come through is your passion for the NYB, the worthiness of your cause and the need for funding. Also make it clear what you want from the sponsor."

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
News
A photo of Charles Belk being detained by police on Friday 22 August
news
News
i100
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
Arts and Entertainment
Amis: 'The racial situation in the US is as bad as it’s been since the Civil War'
booksAuthor says he might come back across Atlantic after all
Extras
indybest
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 200th birthday of Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
News
i100
News
In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Jim Carrey and Kate Winslett medically erase each other from their memories
scienceTechnique successfully used to ‘reverse’ bad memories in rodents could be used on trauma victims
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Pixie Lott will take part in Strictly Come Dancing 2014, the BBC has confirmed
tv
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

C# Developer (C#, ASP.NET Developer, SQL, MVC, WPF, Real-Time F

£40000 - £48000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C# Devel...

C# Swift Payment Developer (C#, ASP.NET, .NET, MVC, Authorize.N

£45000 - £60000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C# Swift...

DevOps Engineer - Linux, Shell, Bash, Solaris, UNIX, Salt-Stack

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: A fast growing Financial Services organisation b...

Trade Desk FIX Analyst - (FIX, SQL, Equities, Support)

£50000 - £60000 per annum + excellent benefits: Harrington Starr: An award-win...

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?