The Path To Best Practice Sponsorship
Abby Clemence, Founder of Infinity Sponsorship and the world’s first online Sponsorship University for Not-for-Profits says that to build a successful sponsorship strategy for your Association, there are four things you need to know above all else.
- How to PLAN your sponsorship approach.
- How to FIND the sponsors that want to work with you.
- How to CONNECT with the right brands for your organisation.
- How to KEEP your partners year after year.
Planning in sponsorship is THE most underestimated stage of creating a successful strategy. When you decide that you are ready to engage sponsors, you also need to put a plan into action that ensures you have everything in place by the time you make your approach to a brand. Your plan should focus on maximising internal support and ensuring you have robust organizational processes that set you up for success at all levels. Correct planning includes creating a culture of ‘sponsorship friendliness’ that promotes whole-of-organisation commitment to support your efforts. Associations that have been successful at engaging corporate support are the ones that know why their supporters are a potential target market to a sponsor and what communication channels they can offer to leverage the ideal partnership.
Finding brands that are the ‘right fit’ for your organisation is a vital part of the sponsorship process. Unfortunately, this is where most Associations choose to START their journey. The high priority need for more funds drives many organizations to approach ANY brand without fully understanding just how successful they could be if they had a clearer action plan. The challenge of commencing your sponsorship journey in THIS phase means that you have missed vital steps in the process (like forgetting to create the foundation of your new house before putting the walls in!) Unless you know what you have to offer, are supported internally and have policies in place that define how your organisation sees corporate partnerships, then you are potentially building your house on sand… and we all know how that turns out! Finding the brands that are willing to align with your organisation is not just about asking ‘who are we going to approach?’ It means taking the time to value your offering to sponsors, do your research to ensure a strong alignment and build relationships with potential partners before you send them a proposal.
Connecting with partners who are aligned with your mission and can see the value of you being a direct route to their target market is a milestone worth celebrating! Understandably, many Associations get to this stage of the process with feelings elation, knowing the value of this investment, but this natural excitement can all too often lead many to take their focus back to their ‘core work’ and new sponsors and fresh promises are left forgotten, leading to difficult conversations, uncomfortable relationships and no chance of renewal or investment for the following year. You must secure the connection. Ensuring you have the right tools and processes in place to make it as easy as possible for a partner to stay with you and enjoy the experience of becoming part of your ‘community’s family’.
Keeping sponsors is the name of the game! Don’t employ months of hard work only to lose them because you haven’t delivered what you promised, or worse, created expectations that you weren’t able to keep. It’s inevitable that partnerships will come to an end at some point and as long as you are able to identify what is happening then you can still maintain respectful and collegiate relationships. However, sometimes things just don’t work out – what then? This phase is about ensuring that you are in control and can identify what’s best for your organisation to maintain your sustainability.
Want to know the health of your sponsorship strategy? It’s free and could save you thousands of dollars and countless hours spent doing tasks that may in fact be hindering your ability to attract and engage sponsors! Give your sponsorship strategy a FREE and much needed check up here!