We should be learning every day. Each morning, I undertake professional development by reading articles on sponsorship. I read content from LinkedIn, or magazines and periodicals while on airplanes or in hotel rooms. This keeps me current, increases my knowledge, and also exposes me to differing opinions.
Professional development is critical for us all—and we have to be able to access it. I see professional development as more than a just a lunch-and-learn or breakfast forum with 30-40 minutes of content. These are great and have a role in our overall learning, but professional development that truly makes an impact needs to deliver focused topics for a minimum of two to three hours, and maybe run two to three days. This is where we learn, are able to put ideas into practice, break into groups to apply newly-learned knowledge, and network.
I am bewildered by organizations that fail to provide such support to their members or clients. Membership in an organization needs to have benefits and professional development should be one of those. If your members are involved in sponsorship in any way, then you should be supporting them with sponsorship professional development opportunities.
A few organizations come to mind that have always done a great job on this front. Here are some examples.
- AFP Edmonton/AFP Vancouver Island continue to engage on an annual basis at least a half-day of sponsorship professional development for their members. These are leaders as sponsorship is critical to fund raisers!
- The City of Nanaimo which, a few years back, delivered four full days of sponsorship workshops and learning for their local charities and non-profits.
- Art Space Winnipeg delivered a half-day workshop for its stakeholders to learn sponsorship basics and put them into practice.
- FEO (Festivals and Events Ontario) annually includes sponsorship workshops during its annual conference, and for several years, had different industry leaders delivering half-day workshops on sponsorship preceding the annual February conference.
- FCM (Federation of Canadian Municipalities). Municipalities are the fasted growing sector in the sponsorship industry. This organization, which represents elected officials (mayors and councillors), has been delivering sponsorship education workshops for the past eight years at its annual conference of 1500+ delegates.
- Sport NB/Recreation NB delivered two full-day sold out sponsorship workshops (inventory valuation and prospect development/discovery sessions) for their memberships in 2017. Next Tuesday and Wednesday, I am back to deliver another two days of workshops for their memberships on proposals, activation, and fulfillment! They truly are providing terrific leadership and professional development for their members (and others across Atlantic Canada).
- Events Atlantic integrates sponsorship into its annual conference agenda with speakers from across the region.
- CSTA (Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance) – Sport Event Congress – Annually at the SEC, the CSTA hosts workshops and training on sponsorship. In 2018, the sponsorship panel was one of the top-rated sessions and they also delivered roundtable discussions on sponsorship!
There are lots of great presenters. In fact, sponsorship conferences like the WSC in the 613 provide terrific professional development opportunities with a wide range of amazing speakers and topics, all in just a day and-a-half.
If your organization is involved in sponsorship and your member association is not providing the professional development opportunities you need, speak up! Let them know this is critical to the long-term success of your organization. Or, if they don’t see the value in it, spend your conference dollars attending an event such as the WSC in the 613 rather than with the association conference. You need to take care of your sponsorship professional development needs!
Congratulations to those membership organizations that provide their members with true professional development for their sponsorship needs. For those that fail to do so—all the best in your continued failure to grow your sponsorship dollars as a member organization or your member organizations themselves!
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