Make Partnerships Possible

Another way to speak of benefits–both for program participants and sponsors–is to create a value-assessment graph using horizontal and vertical axes to plot the value of programs, based on information gathered from a variety of sources. The graph shows the value to the prospective company on one axis and the value to the community on another.

Step 2: Sell Your Product

Dynamic, full-color, snazzy-looking sales materials will need to be created. Since many potential sponsors’ first impression of an agency is shaped by these materials, they must be unique and comprehensive.

From a benefits standpoint, the materials will read like a menu of opportunities. The kit will also include relevant information on the local market, the organization (mission statement, goals) and the entity itself. Include a chart indicating the name of the event, last year’s attendance, items that need sponsorship, the quantity and if you prefer … the unit prices.

The Batavia Park District sponsorship kit includes articles rendered from the local papers, flyers, posters and brochures bearing sponsors’ logos and goodwill messages. This allows potential sponsors to salivate over what you are doing with other sponsors. They will do anything in their power to be a part of your entourage.

Don’t forget to give back, too. When it comes to relationships with sponsors, few things rival the power of a gift. A gift speaks of friendship. It communicates remembrance. It shows thoughtfulness. It demonstrates that you value the relationship.

Sponsors grow weary of park districts constantly asking for monetary sponsorships with few returns. When tweaking the sponsorship proposal and preparing to write the letter of agreement, make sure you add benefits that serve as gifts.

When negotiating a sponsorship with a vendor, such as a printer or hospital, exclusivity is an option. This is the greatest benefit you can offer and should be used when there is no conflict of interest. Choose exclusivity wisely.

Step 3: Gather Teammates, But Designate A Point Person

Never keep potential sponsors waiting on the phone or bouncing from office to office at your agency. Designate one contact person who is in charge of the sponsorship program. That person can be a marketing manager, PR person, director or superintendent. He or she must know the local terrain and be able to assist in expediting contacts and prospecting for business.

This doesn’t mean that many staff members should not be involved in the sponsorship effort. Other support staff, like recreation supervisors, can play a key role in assisting the sales effort.

Devise a comprehensive list of primary and secondary targets and then divide the list so that people at the agency can cover maximum ground. Perhaps recreation supervisors or other staff members already have existing relationships with key local corporate decision-makers. These staff members can make the initial approach to a potential sponsor, but should do so either in tandem with or under the coordination of the person in charge of procuring sponsorships.

Ideally, once sponsorship negotiations begin in earnest, the potential sponsor can deal directly (and almost exclusively) with the agency’s sponsorship liaison.

Step 4: Showcase Sponsorship

Know the product and pitch, pitch, PITCH! Spread sponsorship opportunities around. Don’t overlook the obvious vehicles of communication:

• Newspapers

• Seasonal brochures

• Flyers

• Posters

• Display ads

• Cable bulletin boards

• Announcement boards

• Marquees

Try relationship marketing by becoming a member of the chamber of commerce or local group, so the agency is seen as a part of the community, making contributions as well as seeking them. Search for businesses that value advertising.

Why not take a peek at how successful entities showcase their sponsorships? Don’t limit yourself to the park and recreation field; check out the city of Chicago’s Mayor’s Office of Special Events Web page on sponsorships:

Visit one of these company’s Web sites that offer sponsorship consulting services: or Using the factual information on these Web sites, you can create a proposal or presentation for a park board that will spark fresh enthusiasm, and show professional commitment to starting a sponsorship program at an agency.

Step 5: Evaluate The Program

Conduct a survey using past and present sponsorship contacts, and track the results. Perform a trend analysis of media coverage you have gathered for sponsored programs or events, using a 12-month moving average and identifying the amount of exposure.

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