I’ve been thinking about the topic of sponsorships, and specifically about the often overlooked, but critical role, the sponsor plays in making it a success – for both sides.
To me, sponsorship is all about mutually beneficial positive association, and leverage. You can only truly create, and benefit if both sides effectively invest, engage and activate. Otherwise, it’s wasted money for the sponsor, and a lost opportunity for leverage and exposure by the brand, event or charity. This is particularly critical in the not-for-profit world where getting the most out of your dollars invested is key to maximizing revenue generation for your cause while minimizing your costs.
The sense I have is that it’s often a one-way street, with the sponsor asking “What will you do for me?”. But it shouldn’t end there. It should be a two-way street. The brand, event or charity has an equal right to have their own expectations, demands or requirements of the sponsor as part of the deal. It’s a partnership and an exchange, which means both parties need to ante up, so that both parties can truly benefit.
The part of the equation that is often overlooked, or misses the mark once the sponsorship money is in the door, is sponsor “activation” internally and externally – what they are committing to do beyond their up front sponsorship dollars. It’s absolutely reasonable to expect this. For most brands – and especially charities – this activation part is as important, or perhaps even more important than the up front sponsorship dollars. In the case of charities, since they are looking to get the greatest leverage possible in order to maximize the dollars raised for their cause, this activation is absolutely key, and perhaps even more important to them than their “for profit” counterparts. It’s also a signal of true commitment by the sponsor, that the investment/partnership is truly strategic to the sponsor, and not just tactical or a transaction. In the end, it’s the quality that matters, although it can be easy to be fooled by the up front part of the equation.
I wonder if this issue is more prevalent in the not-for-profit world vs. the for profit world? And why.