Sponsorship – Knight in Shining Armour or the Devil?

Sponsorship – Knight in Shining Armour or the Devil?

Today, I am moderating a panel at the CAMA (Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators) Conference in Deerhurst, Ontario. This event is for city managers and chief administrative officers (CAOs) from across the country. As you are aware, our local towns, cities and metropolitan centres are all in the sponsorship game. Whether they are selling sponsorships and advertising in their rinks and ball parks or integrated sponsorship and naming rights programs at their recreation centres and performing arts centres, they are in the game.

As with some charities, post-secondary institutions, and non-profits, within some municipalities, “sponsorship” is a dirty word. The folks who are opposed feel that companies should donate and support “just because” and should get no recognition. Others feel there should be no commercialization at all. In some cases, the organization has gotten a bad deal (either real or perceived) from a sponsorship. So, they blame the company for “ripping them off” and feel that every sponsorship deal is bad.

At the other end of the scale, many municipalities, charities, non-profits, post-secondary institutions, sport organizations, and others have benefitted immensely from sponsorships and partnerships, and sing their praises. For these, costs have been offset, value-added opportunities for participants or users have been enhanced, or funding for other things has been possible because of such partnerships.

It will be a fun session today with panellists and probably a very full room of people with their own stories of greatness or catastrophe, praise or shame—plus lots of questions. I love these types of interactions at the grassroots level, because you learn from those “boots on the ground” what the issues are. Here are some of the questions we are asking these three city managers/ CAOs.

  • Are you generating the revenues you expected, and if not, why not?
  • What was it like to introduce this program and gain the confidence of the council (board) to move forward with a professional sponsorship program versus an “off the corner of the desk” approach?
  • Are you using internal capacity or have you outsourced the sales, and why did you go that route?
  • Has it been a good investment placing a focus or partial focus on raising revenue through corporate sponsorship, and would you do it again based on what you know now?
  • Do you have any horror stories you want to share?
  • Do you have any successes or great community outcome stories you want to share?

Let me know if you have any questions to add. Feel free to share with me your thoughts on the questions, or if you were on that panel, what your answer would be. I appreciate the feedback.

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1 Comment

  1. I find it very difficult to obtain basic information or data regarding previously negotiated sponsorships for municipal assets (eg. sports complex, arenas, etc), making it then more difficult to identify potential sales and negotiate a fair price for our local requirements. Any advice to offer regarding where I can obtain historical information in the region of Eastern Ontario?


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