Municipal Sponsorships

There is still too much talk and too little action. Municipalities across Canada continue to talk about getting into the sponsorship game. But as with most politicians, I think this talk is a lot of hot air. As a leading sponsorship firm in Canada, the Partnership Group – Sponsorship Specialists™ works with municipalities every day. Too often, I see the failure to do sponsorship correctly.

Many municipalities are doing it right. They have undertaken an inventory audit and valuation that tells them exactly what they have to sell and what each asset is worth. They have moved away from agency-produced glossy packages that are pre-set to distribute to prospects, but get no results, to a process of discovery sessions and custom proposal development. These municipalities are finding success.

Over the past year, I have watched many municipalities get headlines telling how they are undertaking a sponsorship program and “will be selling sponsorships.” Most of it is bust. They get an agency to build them glossy packages and mislead them (often they do this themselves) about how much money they can close and how quickly. It infuriates me! These towns and cities never get out of the gate. They pay tremendous fees for little to no results. In the end, they really don’t know what they have to sell or what sort of money they should bring in. There is no scientific approach to determining revenue expectations. The agencies tell their municipal clients what they think they should get. No asset-by-asset valuation is completed. There is no formula and process for determining revenue against total asset value, and so on.

In a couple of weeks, I will speak at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Conference in Saskatoon. There are over 1700 registered delegates from across the country. Elected officials and municipal staff will all be in attendance. It is an amazing event that I have attended for several years. These folks come to learn best practices, and new and innovative opportunities to make their cities and towns better and more cost efficient. One of the topics to be reviewed and discussed this year is sponsorship and municipalities. Municipalities will leave with a better understanding of how sponsorship can truly work for them. They will depart knowing how they can generate another substantial revenue channel and what needs to be done to do it. They will learn that it is not a “cake walk,” but rather hard work which takes time. I hope they will go away with more knowledge than when they arrived, because as a municipal tax paying citizen, I think governments need to better understand what sponsorship is, how it works, and what it can yield for them.

These are just one person’s thoughts. Yours are welcomed as well. Please add your thoughts or comments below. Thank you for reading and your feedback.


  1. Experience based expectations, and strategy are ceetainly key for any sponsorship program. The best ones start modestly, and grow over time, as they improve in their strategic delivery and generate improved results for all parties. Municipalities need to be viewed in the correct light when it comes to sponsorship – they may not have national broadcast deals like a MLB team, but they are open 365, and don’t suffer team slumps like all pro teams do. Municipalities are strong sponsorship properties, when both the municipality knows what it has to offer, and the sponsor knows what it is really investing in.

    • Sheldon,
      I think you are bang on! Every property has its unique assets and value. To MLB it is broadcast rights perhaps. To the Red Cross it is perhaps the affinity to the brand. To a municipality it is perhaps the 365 day access or the access to every target audience. You nailed it when you spoke of nurturing relationships. Well said. Thank you.



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