MGI Tipster – Volume 11, Issue 12

December 18, 2012   |   Vol. 11   |   Issue 12
Supporting Awards Programs: Answer
Five Questions Before You Seek Sponsorship

Awards programs can be a centerpiece of an association’s public persona, its brand, and its community goodwill. Awards are altruistic. They honor the deserving and call attention to the deeds that an organization values most.

Done well, awards ceremonies and proper recognition can be expensive. But too often they are underfunded because of an inadequate sponsorship program.

Awards are valuable both to sponsors and the organizations they support. The positioning a sponsor company shares when associated with an “award” or “excellence” is by and large the gold standard of sponsorship.

That’s why it’s so important that associations develop the know-how to attract sponsors and forge partnerships that enable the organization’s awards program to expand and excel.

How does an association do that? It begins by answering five important questions about how deeply a sponsor invests in and becomes engaged with an awards program.

1. How much visibility to give a sponsor?

This is a crucial evaluation. The key is never to base sponsorship fees on cost; rather, base the fees on value and visibility.

A sponsoring company representative can simply be a guest at an awards ceremony; or be recognized onstage before the attendees; or be allowed to address the audience. Each is more valuable and is earned by an increasing level of sponsor support. If the company logo appears during the ceremony, that’s an even bigger sponsor benefit.

2. What exposure is offered before and after the award?

Added exposure can play a large part in setting appropriate sponsorship levels and the investment each requires. It may include mention in a few or in many member communications, from announcements to applications, from nominations to a place on the website, from pre-publicity to post announcement thanks. Each has a tangible value.

Media channels often communicate with broad audiences beyond membership and those who actually attend an awards ceremony. Extended reach has value, too.

3. Can naming rights be offered as well?

There is a familiar saying that the most important attribute of success is “location, location, location!” The same is true of sponsor naming rights. For instance, the “Bluebird Excellence Award Sponsored by Acme Bird Seed” is worth a lot to Acme Bird Seed. But “The National Bluebird Association’s Acme Bird Seed Award for Excellence” is worth a lot more. Here, value is determined in part by “position, position, position.”

4. Can reach be extended to larger audiences?

A sponsorship can appreciate in value when an organization can guarantee that chapters and affiliated organizations will publicize the award news and include a sponsor mention. Press releases to the general media that include sponsor recognition are another way to increase value.

5. Can association sponsorships be bundled?

The opportunity to expand the number and value of sponsorships occurs when an association can break down barriers among an organization’s departments. It doesn’t matter whether an awards program is developed by the education or the membership department. What matters is the depth and breadth of the sponsorship.

For further information about sponsorships and how to develop strategies, contact Brent Mundt, MGI’s director of sponsorship strategies. Discussions include sponsorship audits, program design, solutions consulting, awards delivery, and bundling and pricing. Reach Brent at 703.706.0315, or by email at
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