Many associations today are faced with the challenge of how to attract corporate sponsors.
Our client, Skate Canada BC/Yukon, is an example of a real success story in this regard. They have created a thriving member engagement program, and as a result, have attracted solid long-term funding from sponsors.
To start, Skate Canada BC/Yukon has an amazing website dedicated to amateur sport.
The website gets millions of hits a year because Skate Canada has crafted and maintained a well-developed value proposition. They know what the skating community wants and they deliver.
Although Skate Canada is a provincial sport agency, the national body looks to them for innovation and leadership.
Skate Canada’s mandate is a challenging one.
They must continually attract new kids to the sport and nurture the top 2% high-potential athletes while delivering successful life development skills to the remaining 98%.
The organization’s leadership has long understood that things are always changing and, as an association, they must continually evolve.
How to Attract Corporate Sponsors: A Lesson from Skate Canada
Skate Canada BC/Yukon has developed a solid strategy to engage members, create exposure, and attract sponsorship.
Here’s how Skate Canada does it:
Recognize and embrace change, which is not an easy undertaking.
Many, if not most, of the skating community’s driving forces are volunteers working from clubs disbursed throughout the province. They continually demonstrate that their sport can adapt and remain vital, cool and essential
Acknowledge and reward those who contribute. Sport organizations exist through volunteerism, coaching and athletic development.
We all know there are those special people whose participation in any sport makes it better. This may be a coach, athlete, builder or volunteer.
Their contribution cannot go unnoticed.
Skate Canada BC/Yukon’s awards night is simply amazing. They highlight the best, while recognizing the back room support that makes it all happen.
Deliver value to their sponsors. Skate Canada BC/Yukon ensures their sponsors are in attendance at their annual awards gala and are acknowledged for their support.
By being “in-the-room” they see, first hand, how their contribution to the association transcends sport and connects to the fabric of a community.
Establish performance standards. Sure it sounds simple, but creating the standard and ensuring they are embraced is a challenge for any organization.
All communication is directed through the website. It’s kept current both structurally (so that the site functions like it should) as well as being kept fresh with timely and relevant information.
The website has become the hub for all things “skating” in BC and the Yukon.
Through this process Skate Canada BC/Yukon creates exposure for the sport and is able to attract long-term funding through sponsorship.
And this is where the rubber-hits-the-road.
Sponsorship provides powerful marketing and competitive opportunities and can be a significant source of resources for associations.
5 Steps to Attract Sponsorship for Your Organization
As sponsors have many ways to spend their business development budget, Association leadership must be able to articulate its Member Value Proposition to attract funding.
Sponsors are interested in partnering with membership organizations for two reasons:
- Because aligning their brand with yours increases their visibility or perceived value
- Because your members make or influence the buying decisions for their product or services
So you must provide a compelling case for both. When done well, sponsorship is a business whereby both partners benefit.
"Association leadership must be able to articulate its Member Value Proposition to attract funding."
Here are our five steps on how to attract corporate sponsors:
DISTINGUISH YOURSELF: Know your organization, understand your brand, identify how you differ from others and articulate your value.
KNOW YOUR SPONSORS: Understand their business goals and objectives. Tailor the sponsor package to meet their objectives.
IDENTIFY DECISION MAKERS: Understand the sponsors’ decision-making process and hierarchy, e.g., who are the buyers versus the influencers?
What information do they require – particularly if your contact does not make the final decision? What are their business deliverables and how can your association make them look good and help them be successful?
ARTICULATE THE ROI: Create a business case for an investment in your organization.
Clearly define the return on their investment (ROI). The higher the value, the greater the ROI. Share relevant data including member demographic and purchasing information to demonstrate the “fit”.
Define whether the sponsorship is event specific, year-round with multiple touch points or multi-year. Explain how they can maximize the opportunity.
Define the sponsor benefits and value, ensuring the values differ incrementally based on the price and provide consistent and fair recognition.
PROVIDE A RANGE OF OPTIONS: Provide a balanced variety of entry-level to higher-priced premium offerings that provide a good balance of visibility and direct contact with members.
Consider the time required to secure the sponsors. Too many lower priced options take time away from securing higher value opportunities and may undervalue the whole program.
DEDICATE RESOURCES: Successful sponsorship management requires dedicated individuals who are skilled at sourcing, building and nurturing on-going relationships.
The Bottom Line
Membership value is directly related to value that sponsors apply to your organization. Take it very seriously. The more effort and professionalism you put into your sponsor program the more successful it will be.
Member engagement is a key factor in securing corporate sponsors. Learn actionable engagement strategies in our white paper below.
Principal & Marketing Strategist A results-driven creative thinker, Perry is a marketing management professional with a proven record of achievement in Strategic Planning, Team Leadership, and New Concepts Development.