Like everyone else, the municipal sector is looking for more money. In their case, they are looking to raise more money without raising taxes and user fees. One of the channels for revenue development is corporate sponsorship and naming rights. Sure, municipalities have been generating revenue through advertising channels like selling rink boards and transit advertising, but they have moved beyond that. In many cases, they have farmed out these advertising properties and assets.
Today, municipalities are in the game of sponsorship in a full-fledged way. Many municipalities, small and large, have taken the leadership role to undertake an IAV (inventory asset valuation) to catalogue what they have available for sale and determine not only the value of those individual assets, but also the annual revenue that can be expected. Organizations like FCM and CAMA, which are member associations for elected officials and city administration respectively, have engaged the topic of corporate sponsorship at their annual conferences. FCM has found it to be one of the hottest breakout sessions at its annual convention. Beyond that, over the past few years, Jennifer Bishop, formerly with the City of Brampton, has developed an incredible support and discussion network monthly call in for municipalities. This informal group of dozens of municipalities has worked to share samples of policies, addressed ongoing topics such as naming rights deals, supplier agreements, inventory and valuations, sales agencies, and much more. I commend not only Jennifer for the leadership role, but also the participating municipalities, which have collaborated informally to produce support and knowledge exchange. The leadership of all these folks to find solutions to gaps in professional development and experience is fantastic.
As an industry, we need to be aware of this “sleeping giant.” Municipalities are big business. Very few of the municipal sponsorship folks even belong to SMCC. Their professional development, other than the WSC®, tend to consist of Jennifer’s monthly conference call; attendance at Event Atlantic, FEO, and national and provincial parks, recreation, and facilities conferences. Municipalities are generating millions of dollars each year in sponsorship revenue. Many have full teams of staff dedicated to sponsorship. Many smaller communities are outsourcing sales and generating hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in sponsorship and naming rights. Some are running simple programs; others have sophisticated ones using big data and targeted sales programs.
Many brands with which we are working are looking at municipalities to solve their marketing needs. A comprehensive sponsorship program with a municipality can deliver “community”—targeted events and facility sponsorship reaching any and every demographic desired. If you are looking for families with $250,000 incomes that spend over $20,000 a year on home renovations, that are actively involved in community competitive sports, and who support charitable organizations; municipalities can pinpoint them for you and allow you to target them.
Any way you look at it, municipalities are an important part of our sponsorship world. Soon sport, charities, the arts, universities, and others will be saying, “Where the heck did my money go?” “Why is my city doing sponsorship and when did that happen.” Well, it all started in a major way about ten years ago and has been developing rapidly ever since. It started way before that in the City of Oshawa, but the real push has come in the last eight to ten years.
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