How often does your association review its corporate sponsorship or partnership program? The business of corporate relations is changing. Any program that has not been reviewed in recent years could be out of date and falling short of its full potential. It takes ongoing intentional effort to make arrangements lucrative for everyone. Here are a few indicators that you should revisit these non-dues revenue streams to make space for improvement:
When the revenue from corporate sponsorships and partnerships has stagnated or started to decrease, the whole situation should be reviewed. Sponsors or partners might decline to renew at the end of the year. They often cloak this blow in polite language without providing concrete reasons as to why. This is because they could be increasing their marketing expenditures and moving that money to channels that generate more value. Associations must give them a reason to renew.
Take a look at what kind of value your program structure is offering to partners and sponsors. Is it focused primarily for transactional benefits at the association’s conference? You may both be missing out on revenue and content advantages throughout the rest of the year. Many associations offer benefits that are centered on logo placements and are said to offer visibility and recognition to partners or sponsors. However, these are low value and insufficient to sustain a corporate relationship. There must be value for companies beyond logo exposure. Companies derive value when they are positioned as knowledge leader partners with the association (while the association remains true to its mission).
The staff in charge of sponsorships and partnerships needs help from the rest of the association to do their best work. Those in leadership roles should be supporting them, and the board of directors should be actively involved and invested in the association’s corporate relations. Similarly, staff in other departments of the association should be supportive of the corporate sponsorship/partnership. It’s a “win” for the association and its members, board, and staff, as well as corporate sponsors and partners. Collaboration is key: this is why so many folks say the Partnership Professionals Network is an important source of moral support.