Rise of Community Sponsorships
20 April 2006 at 1:04 pm
The traditional seekers of corporate sponsorship in the sport, arts and entertainment industries have been facing a rising challenge – the growing number of community and Not for Profit organisations competing for sponsorship dollars according to William Bourke, the Director of Sponsorship HQ.
Bourke says the list of NFP organisations seeking corporate support is almost endless including those providing cancer research, homeless shelters, drink-driving awareness campaigns, child welfare programs and environmental campaigns.
It even extends to the emergency services, with a timber company in rural England recently paying for a police station to open in the local village!
With growing expectations on big business to act responsibly and to support the community in which it operates, Bourke says image has become even more important. No company wants to be the next James Hardie.
Sponsorship HQ is an independent resource to assist and advise corporates/brands (and their agencies) to find the most relevant sponsorship opportunities in Australia.
William Bourke says that a range of major companies have re-aligned their corporate giving and sponsorship programs to incorporate a greater emphasis on community causes. This was amplified by the Tsunami and the corporate one-upmanship that occurred as Australia’s largest companies lined up to trumpet their contribution.
Importantly, Bourke says true corporate social responsibility (CSR) is not about donating money to a charity and spruiking it on every street corner, it is more about developing products, services and programs that have the right DNA.
He says real CSR largely speaks for itself through positive word of mouth and peer-to-peer endorsement. In this age of spin, the consumer is too savvy. Actions speak louder than words.
Sponsorship HQ says for corporates one potential community sponsorship issue to prepare for is the possibility of negative media coverage when a sponsor “withdraws” funds at the conclusion of the partnership. This can undo some or all of the good work.
There have been a couple of recent high profile cases that have provided a media feeding frenzy, and in one case the sponsor reversed their decision to avoid the continuing negative publicity.
Bourke says the first thing that happens when a NFP publicly cries wolf on a departing sponsor is the destruction of that relationship. Other potential sponsors will also run the other way. Then there is the collateral damage to the broader NFP sector that is so reliant on corporate support.
He says corporate sponsors have very high sponsorship demands placed on them, and as worthy as many of the causes are, the reality is that there isn’t enough money to go around. Assisting a range of community causes over a period of time is an appropriate and fair sponsorship strategy.
So what is the best way to go? According to Bourke, the answer as lies in finding the right sponsorship opportunities for specific marketing and communications objectives, regardless of the sponsorship category they fall into.
He says a good example of an organisation pursuing this strategy is the National Australia Bank (NAB) which has a well-balanced portfolio of sport, arts, entertainment and community-focussed properties designed to achieve a range of business objectives. This has recently included the AFL and Commonwealth Games, Cirque du Soleil, The Australian Ballet and the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation.
Finally he says not every organisation has the budget of a NAB, so each will need to carefully review their specific marketing and communications objectives in order to find the right balance.
For more information on Sponsorship HQ go to: www.sponsorshiphq.com.