Sep 07, 2009 at 07:06 PM
written by Gail Bower

Question Your Sponsorship Operation

Developing a corporate sponsorship program for your event, festival, and/or other nonprofit program or initiative should be a strategic decision for your organization. You must have something of value to exchange with the corporate sector along with a competent operation to deliver it.

Is your operation all that it could be? Do you, or does your staff, make business development an art form? Do you have procedures and an infrastructure that supports all the ideas you generate for your sponsors? If a new sponsor called tomorrow, can your team identify the next 5 steps, after saying “hello”?

How your organization interacts with your corporate clients, through every step of the process, says a great deal to them about what to expect from the sponsorship experience with you. Using this time to solidify or enhance your operation will be to your benefit in the long run.

Customer Service and Relationship Cultivation.

What are the values that will imbue your sponsor relationships? How will you put this vision into practice?

Identify who on your staff is responsible for each relationship, during all phases of the sponsorship process. From the time the sponsor contacts you, or you contact them, be clear on your sales process, where you are along that process, and what signs indicate you’re ready to move to the next step. Once you land the sponsor, who works with them? How will you organize your internal communications process so that the sponsor is channeling instructions and requests, and providing needed information, through one person, not many people?

How will you continue to work with your sponsor, both onsite at the event and through the evaluation period and beyond? How will you grow the relationship? How will your internal activities be focused, budgeted, and evaluated?

If there is a problem, how will it be handled? Who in upper management, if not you, will interact with the sponsor’s upper management and build a relationship at the top? How will your board interact with sponsors? What is their role?

Sponsorship activation is still an important ingredient of sponsorship, despite the economy; however, like many businesses and operations, your partner may be facing staff shortages. What can you recommend to streamline the activation operation? Can you outsource the staffing, weaving the cost into your proposal? Can you provide volunteers to help out in some way?

Finally, how can you encourage your sponsors to work together, to extend the benefits and value of their participation with your event or organization even farther by working together? Organize your sponsors around a joint promotion. Share or leverage opportunities from another partner. Make introductions to develop a corporate community around your sponsorship opportunities and engage your partners.

Ideas like these show you’re willing to go the extra mile for your sponsors. You and your team display a level of professionalism and respect for your partners that will be noticed.

This article is an excerpt from Gail Bower’s new guidebook, entitled How to Jump-start Your Sponsorship Strategy in Tough Times. To order the book, visit

Gail Bower is President of Bower & Co. Consulting LLC, a firm that assists nonprofit organizations and event/festival producers with dramatically raising their visibility, revenue, and impact. Gail Bower is a professional consultant, writer, and speaker, with nearly 25 years of experience managing some of the country’s most important events, festivals, and sponsorships and implementing marketing programs for clients. Her blog is and you can see all of Gail's past posts here.