There are three things to keep in mind when talking about sponsorship in this day and age.
The first two I’ve written about before. Both parties must see it as a business partnership, not simply one side helping the other out, and sponsors must make a marketing decision not just a philanthropic one. There must be some kind of return on a sensible sponsorship decision.
That second point leads into my third. You must also have money to “activate” the sponsorship to ensure that you get maximum benefit from it. As a rule of thumb, be prepared to spend as much on the activation as on the sponsorship itself.
Or, to put it another way, if you have $20,000 in the pot, put forward half as the actual sponsorship, with the remainder used to support the investment.
“Support” is the key word here. This is not about on-costs or admin costs or money thrown away. Sponsorship activation is about making sure that organisers and sponsors alike get maximum benefit and exposure from the event or project in question.
That may be as simple as paying to advertise the event or have the certificates printed, with your logo as prominent as that of the sponsored body, of course. Often these are things the organisers had not factored into their budget.
But you can achieve a lot more if you think laterally. Sponsorship is a great way to energise your brand and change perceptions about your organisation because it allows you to do something new and to move in different circles.
I once worked for a law firm that was looking for an arts sponsorship, both to soften its somewhat conservative reputation and to allow its lawyers to get experience in arts law. It chose to sponsor quite a prominent organisation by providing free legal services – a neat solution all round.
The real activation came, however, with a simple Christmas card competition for the sponsored organisation’s design students. There was a formal brief, a judging panel with art identities and the firm’s clients, and a cocktail party to announce the winner and present a $1000 prize. All the entries were displayed in the firm’s foyer in the weeks leading up to Christmas, and the winning design was used for the firm’s cards that year, complete with the story behind it.
All of a sudden that legal firm had a presence in the arts world.
Have any questions regarding sponsorship or how to ‘activate’ sponsorship? Feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org