Tend to your Sponsorship Garden


Jason E. Ebey, IOM

Spring is beginning, and I love to see the flowers beginning to bloom. This spring has been anything but usual, but we have seen people out tending to their gardens. In fact, we have seen a few more flowers and gardens popping up around the neighborhood. I think people are finding the calming effect of being in nature. In many ways, maintaining your Chamber’s sponsorship list is like maintaining a garden.

When you look around your neighborhood, is there one house with a perfect lawn or beautiful stoop? If that beautiful display is at your home, then you know it doesn’t happen by accident. The true beauty of a garden happens thanks to the dedicated hand of a gifted gardener.

Those gardeners who enjoy their beautiful garden in the spring and summer and then leave it dormant through the fall and winter have a very difficult time preparing the garden again the next spring. It is extra work, and through the years, the garden may not continue to rebound with the same beauty as the year prior.

But those who tend to their gardens through the year, a little at a time, discover that their gardens blossom greater and greater each year.

In order to properly tend your sponsorships as a garden, you will need to work on them throughout the year, not just during your Total Resource Campaign. If you are just considering a Total Resource Campaign now because of what is going on with this pandemic, consider that if your chamber had conducted a TRC in 2019, all of your funding for 2020 would already have been secured.

In a ‘normal’ year, as chambers hold events throughout the year, staff should review them in light of their future sponsorships.

  • Did you value the sponsorship appropriately in this year’s sponsorship campaign?
  • Is your marketing and promotion of the sponsorship appropriate?
  • Are there any additional sponsorships that you could launch in the future?
  • Have you discovered that, thanks to the marketing and promotions of the event, the sponsorship should be valued higher (or lower) in the future?
  • Have you discovered additional layers to the sponsorship?
  • Are additional benefits available which would increase the sponsorship value?

Considering these questions throughout the year rather than just at the beginning of your TRC allows your sponsorships to be stronger and more appealing to sponsors.

If you have a fall TRC, be using these questions to conduct your strategic planning for your campaign. Think about what areas of your membership haven’t been reached well in the past and need to be approached, what volunteers performed really well in past TRCs, what sponsorships seemed to appeal to your members the most, and how you can take this information and use it to make this your best TRC yet.

Right now, so many chambers are (and have been) in the process of reviewing their remaining 2020 events to determine which ones can be modified to move to a virtual environment and which ones need to be rescheduled to 2021. Be sure to look at your calendars, what sponsorship benefits can still be provided, and to involve the sponsors. Continued communication with your sponsors will ensure that they feel valued and that their interests and needs are being met.

As we all move through this current moment in time, continual review of your sponsorships will allow you to prune the excess, to see areas that can be improved, and to find places where growth is possible in your TRC sponsorships.

Use this as an opportunity to take another look at your sponsorship list, even if you aren’t currently in a TRC – maybe especially if you aren’t currently in a campaign. Even if you aren’t making alterations to a sponsor’s event or initiative, consider just touching base with that business owner, letting them know you are there for them.

Tend to your campaign as a good gardener, and you will be rewarded with a blossoming garden of sponsorships when your next TRC arrives. As always, if we can be of any assistance or offer any guidance, please feel free to reach out to us.

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