Close Search
Hot Topic  |  Governance

Transactional Versus Relationship-Based Sponsorship

20 October 2016 at 9:47 am
Abby Clemence
The new rules of etiquette in successful sponsorships are all about creating a partnership, writes sponsorship expert Abby Clemence.

Abby Clemence | 20 October 2016 at 9:47 am


Transactional Versus Relationship-Based Sponsorship
20 October 2016 at 9:47 am

The new rules of etiquette in successful sponsorships are all about creating a partnership, writes sponsorship expert Abby Clemence.

The tides are shifting – are you moving with them or against them?

The last decade has seen huge shifts in marketing, consumerism and sponsorship. There’s no doubt that the way brands are targeting their ideal customers is becoming more and more sophisticated. Geolocation tracking, behavioural targeting and social media are only a few things to have been introduced in the complex, clever (and sometimes scary) digital marketing techniques used by companies.

In turn, consumers are making different choices with their purchasing decisions. As the general public becomes more and more aware (especially our younger pioneering generations) that they hold the real power, one trend is continuing to gather momentum, and that is people are shopping with their conscience. They are putting their money where their heart is.

Excitingly, it is becoming very clear that brands that publicly show their support for causes that are making a positive social and environmental impact are winning the race when it comes to creating greater brand loyalty, increased profits and market share. It is the power of people like you and I that have created this shift.

Sponsorship image

So what does all of this have to do with sponsorship?

Well, of course there is an intrinsic link between the corporate and consumer worlds, and your

organisation or event is placed squarely in the middle. As a sponsorship seeker, you know that you need investment from the right corporates and can give these brands direct access to their ideal consumers (your supporters).

Sponsorship too has taken massive steps forward in the last decade – especially in the for-purpose sector. We are moving away from hand-shake deals that pose as contracts, board directors who are also sponsors, precious metal sponsorship levels and generic proposals that get sent out to a list of cold prospects. We could look at this period as the era of transactional sponsorship.

A time when relationships were based on everyone offering the same benefits – generic forms of “exposure”, tickets to events, trade stands and the most common one of all – logo placement. This type of relationship was very much set up in a template-type format where a sponsor needed to fit in with what an organisation or event was offering in order for the relationship to work. And work it did. For a while at least.

We are now seeing a new breed of savvy for-purpose sponsorship seekers making approaches to brands wanting to do things differently and this new method is kicking some amazing goals for their communities and supporter base.

The new rules of etiquette in successful sponsorship are all about creating a partnership. A partnership between two like-minded brands that know what they want, understands what the other wants and are both prepared to work collaboratively to make it work. This new relationship-based paradigm shift we are seeing is supremely clever too, capitalising on the shifts already occurring in society.

As brands dive deeply into the more granular details of their ideal client (where they shop online, what their preferences are, what social issues they care about) so sponsorship seekers should see this shift with a positive attitude. The fact is, to the right brand, your organisation’s community of followers is their ideal target market, and you can give them direct access. That’s a very appealing form of marketing – especially when you can offer to keep their competitors “out of the room” during the partnership.

Remember too, the power of your brand in this changing world of consumerism. Your brand is valued highly by your community of followers as well as holding great appeal to the right sponsor. They know that their customers are shopping with their conscience. Consumers want to see their favourite brands follow suit, or they’ll swap to a competing brand. You can help these brands be more relevant to their target market.

Aside from the benefits for companies, more and more for-purpose organisations are realising that the right corporate partner can bring a wealth of knowledge, creativity, fresh ideas and strategy to the table. After all, brands go to a great deal of trouble and expense to understand the finest details of their target market. If you can offer direct access to them, then you can be sure that you can also learn a lot about the way they communicate, educate and enrich the experience of your supporters.

The majority of for-purpose organisations don’t do marketing very well. The focus has traditionally been on the mission and the community, not the promotion and publicity. The right corporate partner can absolutely help raise your profile and launch your organisation or event into sectors and circles you would never have been able to afford.

These new relationships-based sponsorships are all based on mutual outcomes. Both parties understand the value they bring to the table – one is not lesser than the other. Both are open to new experiences and put the time into doing due diligence on one another. These partnerships are not based in desperation for money or a knee-jerk reaction to the board passing down a motion to “get sponsors”. It is more about the excitement and relevance of the long term appeal for both brands.

Having said all this, when it comes to the adoption and implementation of any new idea or trend, there are always the innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards.

Where does your organisation sit on the scale of transactional vs relationship-based sponsorship?

About the author: Abby Clemence is managing director of Infinity Sponsorship and owner of the new LinkedIn group The Ultimate Non-Profit and Charity Sponsorship Network.

Abby Clemence  |  @ProBonoNews

Abby Clemence is the managing director of Infinity Sponsorship and founder of the world's first online Sponsorship University for NFPs.

PB Careers
Get your biweekly dose of news, opinion and analysis to keep you up to date with what’s happening and why it matters for you, sent every Tuesday and Thursday morning.

Got a story to share?

Got a news tip or article idea for Pro Bono News? Or perhaps you would like to write an article and join a growing community of sector leaders sharing their thoughts and analysis with Pro Bono News readers? Get in touch at or download our contributor guidelines.


2022 Salary Survey

Get more stories like this


Your email address will not be published.


New year, new approach to financial information

Ushi Ghoorah

Friday, 1st July 2022 at 2:10 pm

Pro Bono Australia Salary Survey sheds light on whether boards get paid

Wendy Williams

Wednesday, 8th June 2022 at 4:56 pm

Guide Dogs Victoria CEO resigns

Danielle Kutchel

Wednesday, 1st June 2022 at 12:04 pm

Charities shine bright as leaders for good

Danielle Kutchel

Monday, 30th May 2022 at 12:44 pm

pba inverse logo
Subscribe Twitter Facebook

News for those with purpose.

Delivered free to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

Thank you - you have successfully subscribed.

Get the social sector's most essential news coverage. Delivered free to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning.

You have Successfully Subscribed!