How Sponsorship Works

As a business owner, I often get requests to sponsor clients who are, for example, doing a weeks-long trek across some challenging terrain, to raise money for women’s shelters. I even gathered my own sponsors in our tiny village of Lyndhurst in support of the Rejuvenation Committee, by swimming the 3km from one end of our lake to the other.

Given I will be attending a Sponsorship three day retreat in San Diego, California with the Raise a Dream team Charmaine Hammond and Rebecca Kirstein, I’ve been curious about sponsorship and wanted to learn more before attending the retreat.

Sponsorship, like so many topics, seems fairly simple until you start delving into it, and realize just how much you don’t know.

In preparation for attending the retreat I was given access to the Big Dream Primer, their 7-Step online preparation course with videos and tons of tools. I’ve been blown away by the breadth and depth of their expertise, tools and perspectives, especially as it relates to dreams, and making those dreams a reality.

Now that I’ve officially stepped into the world of sponsorship, on both the giving and receiving side, I was curious to learn more about the business owners I know and respect, and how they make sponsorship decisions. It’s especially difficult because while many of us would like to support every cause or organization who asks, at the same time we need to be conscious of the businesses return on the investment we make through our sponsorship dollars.

I spent over an hour on the phone recently with Laurel Davidge who told me that sponsorship for her involves connecting with groups that share her values. For example, a concern and awareness for animal welfare. She especially appreciated being asked by the organizations she was supporting what they could do to promote her business, and what message would she like to send to the members of the organization she was sponsoring.

It makes me wonder, how often organizations looking for sponsors actually ask this question, because for me it seems absolutely essential. By positively and tangibly responding to the needs of the sponsor, organizations or individuals can ensure a relationship which continues to be mutually beneficial to both parties going forward, and lays the groundwork for future collaboration.

Establishing and maintaining relationships is an important component for any sponsorship creation. I’ve heard this many times from Charmaine in videos and other course materials, and the more I learn, the more it rings true.

What impressed me in my conversation with Laurel is that she quite willingly offered additional sponsorship based on a meaningful relationship she’d developed with the organization who was aligned with her values and purpose. It became clear to me that there was a real mutual respect and admiration between these parties, and it allowed them to work together in furthering a common goal of animal welfare, but also in cross promoting each other and leveraging networks and connections toward growth and new opportunities. When I look at this particular relationship, and speak to Laurel, I think it really exemplifies the give and take nature of sponsorship, and how easy it can be for sponsors and those they’re sponsoring to positively impact each other.

I am writing this article because I’m looking forward to sharing more about sponsorship through my interviews with other business owners before and following the Sponsorship Retreat in San Diego.

How do you go about making decisions on who to sponsor and why? What is important to you when it comes to measuring your return on investment, how do you decide whether the seeds you’ve sown have given you the fruit you’d anticipated or not? What about other ripple effects from your sponsorship dollars, have there been any surprises? And finally, how aligned do you think sponsors should be with the organizations they are choosing to support?

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