The Mikuska Group  

Nuggets from the Western Sponsorship Congress

I recently attended the SMCC Western Sponsorship Congress, founded by Brent Barootes of The Partnership Group – Sponsorship Specialists. It was a great way to hear directly from sponsors and properties about their challenges and successes.

Here are some tips from sponsors to properties:

  • While corporations often outline their “Pillars” of community support, if you have a proposal outside these guidelines that may interest a sponsor, have a conversation.
  • Sponsorship is not Philanthropy.
  • Be realistic in the value of your inventory. Don’t inflate your proposal to meet budget.
  • Don’t be shy about proposing activation – we like new ideas. Experiential is important.
  • “No” doesn’t mean “No, not ever.” Take the small sponsorships – they could lead to bigger ones down the road.
  • Make sure you know what is important to the sponsor. Some are interested in increased sales, others value employee engagement.
  • Hold a Sponsor Summit and have all your partners participate. The value in this is that partners may wish to be in the room with other partners as a prelude to potential business relationships. Also, say thanks!

Some tips from properties about keeping sponsors engaged:

  • You and your sponsors are partners in a trusting, collaborative relationship. It’s not us vs. them.
  • Invest in your event or program. You don’t want to appear “cheap” – this is not appealing to partners.
  • Keep in touch year-round, not just around your event.
  • Promote your partners through Twitter, in your newsletters and on site all year.
  • Have exclusive opportunities for sponsors – meet the celebrities, back stage tours, etc.
  • Propose new sponsorship opportunities to your current partners – you may not be aware of new plans or programs that these fit into.
  • Offer exclusive opportunities for your partners’ employees/friends and families.

Sponsorship is becoming an increasingly important source of revenue for non profit organizations. Crafting a successful sponsorship program (not Gold/Silver/Bronze packages!) requires you to understand the nature of the beast. Invest in your sponsorship education. Your partners will appreciate it.

Laura Mikuska



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