Make Partnerships Possible

It’s 9:00 a.m. on a Monday. You have just returned from vacation and haven’t touched your day-planner in a week. Your voice mail reports 18 new messages, and the inbox on your desk is stacked so high it looks like a model of the Sears Tower.

Here are some tips on making sponsorships work.

Then you receive a call from your boss: “We’re going to need at least $25,000 in sponsorship money for the upcoming festival!”

You panic and break into a sweat.

You were supposed to create sponsorships for the entire year, but … Where do you begin?

Sponsorship is a cornerstone of any successful agency fundraising plan. According to the IEG Sponsorship Report’s annual survey, corporations around the globe will spend more than $24.6 billion sponsoring sports, arts, entertainment, causes and events.

If corporations are creating sponsorship line-items in their budgets, and your agency plans, operates, and hosts sports, arts, entertainment and events, what are you waiting for?

Park and recreation agencies can certainly create and manage their own sponsorship programs. The Batavia Park District in Illinois has raised thousands of sponsorship dollars in connection with its events and programs.

Try following the steps Batavia took, and then run in new directions.

Step 1: Create An Inventory List And Rate Card

When you step into a restaurant, the host hands you a menu. Perhaps you had intended to order a burger, but you had no idea how appealing the prime rib would be. And how about those desserts?

It’s just as appealing with potential sponsors. When they come to the table, they should be able to see all of their options. That’s why an inventory list and a rate card “menu” of sponsorship opportunities available within the park and recreation agency should be created.

In brainstorming for ideas, snag a copy of last year’s budget and note where programs and events overspent, or where opportunities present themselves. Don’t rule out items like candy for the Easter egg hunt, T-shirts for day camp, mileage signs for the 5K/10K races or a banner for the teen center.

Crank The Numbers

After each season, note how much was spent on those items that could be potentially underwritten by sponsors. Apply the necessary math to figure out the unit price of each item. Building the rate card based on reasonably estimated costs (based on historic costs) makes the card an important internal tool in gauging appropriate package-pricing and value.

Since no two proposals will be identical, it will be necessary to calculate each sponsorship item so that every package can be correctly priced.

But it’s not enough to know cost numbers. Sponsors want a real sense of benefits, too. Because sponsorship is more labor-intensive than measured media, and lacks guarantees, such as advertising’s “make goods,” it must overdeliver. For every $1 that sponsors invest, they should receive at least $1.50 worth of benefits.

When a company commits funds to support a program, it expects the folks running the program to have measurable goals and expectations. Some are simple to figure, for example, the number of people reached through a given program or event and comparison data with prior years.

Measuring other benefits, for example, quantifying the effectiveness of a literacy program, can be more difficult. (You might want to know the number of people helped or the average beginning and ending grade-level reading scores of the participants.)

Probably, the people at your agency who run an event or program have some measuring sticks in place. Be sure to tap their expertise before you describe a program or an event’s benefits to a potential sponsor.

Perform A Value Assessment

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