Issues to consider when looking for a patron. admin January 25, 2024
Issues to consider when looking for a patron.

In the complex world of the social economy and the third sector, the role of patrons goes beyond mere financial support. These collaborators not only inject vital resources into projects with a strong social impact, but also contribute their vision, experience and networks of contacts, becoming strategic allies for the growth and sustainability of initiatives that seek to generate positive change in society.

Therefore, finding the right patron, one whose values and objectives will resonate with those of the project, and building a relationship that is beneficial and long-lasting, is a complex challenge that requires understanding, strategy and a meticulous approach.

We share a brief overview of some of the elements to consider when looking for a patron and approaching collaboration. The search for new funding streams and partnerships are essential for any third sector organisation that aspires to achieve significant and lasting impact.

Understanding the Role of the Patron

Choosing the right patron is a critical step in ensuring the success and sustainability of a project. It is not just about finding funding, but about establishing a close relationship with someone who shares the vision and values of the project. It’s not about getting a patron to say yes, it’s about developing a strategy to find the right person or entity. The relationship has to make sense beyond the availability of the patron or the need of the recipient.

Identifying Project Goals and Values: Seeking Aligned Patrons
Before seeking a patron, it is essential to have a clear understanding of your project’s goals and values. What is its mission? What social impact does it seek to achieve? This clarity will allow you to identify potential supporters whose interests and values align with your own. A patron who shares your passions and understands your goals will be more likely to provide meaningful, long-term support.
Go beyond general values and try to be as specific as possible. This specificity will allow us to find patrons with real commitment who are also strategic. We can measure results and offer a concrete return on the patronage and avoid falling into relationships that do not go beyond the most superficial publicity. This last point is important because the patron can wash his or her image and continue as before, while the recipient organisation can have a credibility crisis that puts an end to its work.

Researching and Analysing Potential Funders: Background, Prior Interests and Social Commitments
Once you have defined your goals and values, research potential funders. This includes reviewing their sponsorship history, previous interests, and commitment to social causes. Have they supported similar projects in the past? What types of initiatives do they tend to support? This research will help you better understand whether their interests align with your project. Also, find out about their reputation and how they have interacted with other projects: a good patron not only provides resources, but also respects and values the work of their beneficiaries.
This step is very important to find out if we have something in common and to establish partnerships. It is important that we consider from a general sponsorship of the organisation to a specific one for certain projects. Depending on the approach, we will analyse the patron differently.
For example: it is not the same for a project with a local impact where the patron may be smaller and have a common geographical reference and more than one geographical reference, as it is to establish campaigns or programmes at a national level that require a larger patron and therefore a more detailed analysis.

Project Presentation: Highlighting its Social Value and Impact Potential
When presenting your project to a potential funder, focus on clearly communicating its social value and potential for impact. Explain how your project addresses a specific social need and what its contribution to the community or sector will be. Highlight any innovations or unique approaches your project offers. Patrons are looking for investments that are not only financially sustainable, but also generate positive and measurable social impact.
If your sponsorship is for your organisation, it is necessary to maintain a balance between transparency and independence from your organisation. The patron needs to know and be able to contribute more than just their money, but as an organisation you cannot “give away” management and decision-making. In this case, presenting a clear methodology and agreements from the beginning is a key issue to avoid future problems.

Effective Outreach and Communication Strategies
Initial outreach and ongoing communication with potential patrons should be carefully planned. Tailor your communications based on your research into their interests and background. In making the approach, be direct but respectful, showing how a partnership with your project can be beneficial to both parties. Consider organising face-to-face meetings or special events to present your project in a more dynamic way. Remember that sponsorship is a two-way relationship; it is as important to show interest in the patron’s goals and achievements as it is to present the strengths of your project.
Make all these issues clear from the beginning with a clear and agreed plan. Changes and adaptations will probably have to be made, but as long as it is done in a common understanding, it will be much easier to understand each other.

Building and Maintaining the Patron Relationship

Once you have found the right patron, the next step is to build and maintain a solid and lasting relationship. This stage is crucial to ensure not only the continuity of support, but also to foster a mutually beneficial strategic alliance. Don’t rule out that what starts as a sponsorship for a specific project will end up being a long-lasting partnership.

Continuous and Transparent Communication Strategies
Communication is the cornerstone of good patron relations. Keep your supporters regularly informed about the progress and challenges of the project. This not only shows transparency, but also makes them feel that they are a valuable and active part of your initiative. Use regular reports, newsletters, and face-to-face meetings to maintain this communication. Being honest about the challenges faced and how they are being addressed reinforces trust and demonstrates your commitment to the success of the project.

Progress Reports and Impact Measurement: Showing Concrete Results
Patrons want to see the impact of their contribution. Therefore, it is essential to measure and report results effectively. Develop clear performance indicators and share concrete achievements and results. This may include, for example, the number of people benefited, specific progress towards project objectives, or personal stories of those impacted by the work. These reports not only provide evidence of success, but also give the patron a tangible sense of participation and achievement.

Patron Recognition and Appreciation: Events, Public Mentions and Other Acknowledgements

Appreciating and acknowledging the patron’s contribution is vital. This can be through public mentions, such as on social media or promotional materials, inviting them to special events, or even naming aspects of the project in their honour. These actions should be in line with the patron’s preferences; some may prefer public acknowledgements, while others may value a more discreet approach. The key is to show them that their support is valued and that they make a significant difference to the cause they are supporting.

Adaptability and Flexibility: Responding to Patron Needs and Expectations without Losing the Essence of the Project

Finally, it is important to be adaptable and flexible in your relationship with the funder. Circumstances and priorities can change, both for the project and for the patron. Keep communication open to understand their changing needs and expectations. However, it is crucial to do this without compromising the mission and core values of your project. Find a balance between being receptive to their ideas and maintaining the integrity of your original vision.


Finding and maintaining a patron in the social economy and third sector is a journey that goes beyond the simple acquisition of financial resources. It is a process of forging lasting partnerships, based on trust, transparency and mutual commitment to shared social goals.

What must prevail in our minds is the idea that each patron brings with them a unique story, set of experiences and vision that can enrich our project. By embracing these uniquenesses, we open our project to new perspectives and opportunities. The key lies in the ability to communicate effectively, to celebrate joint achievements and to adapt to the changing dynamics of this relationship.

As we embark on this journey, let us remember that every interaction with a patron is an opportunity to learn, grow and strengthen the cause we are passionate about. In the end, what we build is not just a network of financial support, but a community of dedicated allies whose collaboration transcends the monetary and becomes a driving force for social change. This is the true art and science of working with patrons in the social sector: a dance between giving and receiving, where both parties are enriched and evolve together.

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