The world of sponsorship is growing. Each and every single year we see billions being spent on sponsorship in North American alone.
Like all corporate initiatives, sponsorship projects can also be fully integrated into a company’s overarching mandate for creating positive social impact (while simultaneously working to ensure that sponsorship projects are as sustainable as possible).
This type of well-intentioned sponsorship, with a focus in positive social impact, is also on the upswing.
In fact, IEG reported earlier this year that over 1.78 billion dollars were spent during 2013 in North America on cause-related sponsorship (check out the article here). IEG’s report also mentioned that 2013 saw a 4.8% increase from the previous year!
This is great news for those rallying behind effective corporate good, conscious capitalism and CSR, with many catching on to the benefits of implementing cause-related sponsorship.
Often times when we think of sponsorship, we imagine a large public event, like a music festival or street party. Or sport-related sponsorship for professional sports teams, the Olympics or the World Cup. In addition to these popular examples, we are also seeing some new and unique forms of sponsorship emerging, such as sponsored online content (a growing trend that’s becoming ever more prominent and at times tabooed, which is another blog post in it of itself).
So where does cause sponsorship fit in?
Well, it can be integrated into a company’s social impact mission, fulfilling the marketing and exposure benefits of traditional sponsorship, while simultaneously, creating social good.
Wondering how to get started?
Firstly, there’s a lot out there to help you get inspired. Looking at past successes and failures from other company’s is a great way to start thinking about cause sponsorship.
While searching for that perfect cause-related sponsorship program, ask yourself the following questions:
1. How much are we willing or able to spend?
Though you may be strapped for cash, don’t let a small budget bring you down. There’s a lot of different ways to make a social impact, via sponsorship, without having to spend beyond your means.
Think about sponsoring a local charity’s fundraising event or a group of employees who are running in the city’s upcoming marathon. Alternatively, sponsor a local amateur sports team or club. Look into the possibility of sponsoring a larger cause-driven event, but at a lower sponsorship level.
If you really dig deep, you’d be surprised to find that there’s a sponsorship opportunity out there for your company that not only fits your budget, but that is also well-suited to your overall mission and purpose.
2. Does this sponsorship opportunity match our CSR mandate? Our purpose?
Similar to my previous blog post on choosing the right charitable partner for your company, your sponsorship program must complement the purpose of your organization (Click here to read my previous blog post, Finding the Perfect Match: 5 Tips for Selecting your Company’s “Charity of Choice”).
3. What are my company’s social impact goals? Does this opportunity help fulfill them?
Think about your company’s social impact goals. What kind of mark are you looking to leave on this world? Meaningful cause sponsorship must work towards fulfilling your company’s answer to this question.
It’s important to establish a social impact plan that is cohesive. Without cohesion, your efforts may seem unorganized, confusing or contrived to onlookers.
4. Is it sustainable? Environmentally friendly?
While determining what to sponsor, don’t forget to consider its impact on the environment. Though it may be creating a positive social impact, you don’t want to be acting unsustainably in order to do so.
5. Will this engage employees in a meaningful way?
If you’ve been able to find a sponsorship opportunity that not only fits your budget, but also matches your company’s purpose, social impact goals and sustainability efforts, then chances are, your employees are going to be excited about engaging in this initiative. Remember to include employees in your plans. Allow them to attend, participate, volunteer, get inspired and make a difference.
6. Is it marketable? Is there a strong opportunity for meaningful sponsorship activations?
Lastly, you want to be asking yourself, is this marketable? After all, sponsorship is about marketing and exposure and that’s not a bad thing. Showing that your company cares is important not only for your employees, but also for your corporate B2B partners, your stakeholders, investors and of course, customers.
In conclusion, stick to your budget, do something meaningful that matches your company’s passion, ensure its sustainable, involve employees in the process and share your success stories with your network.
Have you been part of a really successful cause sponsorship initiative? Leave it in the comments section for those looking for some inspiration to help them get started!
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