Adolescent Success Case Study

An interview with Angela White, Executive Officer, Adolescent Success. Adolescent Success is a national professional association run by a single staff member.

Tell us about Adolescent Success.

We are the peak body professional association for teachers of young adolescents.  We provide professional development in the form of study tours and conferences for teachers in middle schools and high schools around Australia and New Zealand.  We’ve been in existence since 1999 and started as a small group of teachers in Brisbane who cared about the middle years of schooling.  Since then, we’ve supported thousands of teachers as they teach the varied and unique needs of young adolescents in every state of Australia and NZ. 

What was your partnership situation before the program?

While we had always had good supporters in the form of sponsors for our biennial conference, we had never sought sponsorship in the form of an annual partnership and never gone through the process of identifying the value our association could add to a partnership.

What situation you are in now?

We now have three financial annual partners and two memorandums of understanding with other associations.

What surprised you most about the process of implementing a partnership program?

The level of trust required by both parties as you negotiate a partnership agreement.  I’ve been amazed at the level of honest discussion and ‘finding out’ about each other required.  What I imagined being an efficient and black and white ‘sign up’ process is actually a relationship building exercise and involves many discussions and meetings.

What was the most challenging part of the process?

Making the phone calls!  There is a fair bit of follow up required and that’s the unexciting part of the process.

If you could go back and tell yourself anything before you started, what would it be?

Allow more time for every step of the process.  In terms of staffing, it really does take a few hours each week and it’s important to allow for this so that the day to day running of the association doesn’t suffer… while you are working on partnerships.  

What was the thing you were most thankful for during the process?

Julian!  Having the guidance and mentorship throughout has been key to the success of our partnership program.  I didn’t anticipate the mild ‘awkwardness’ I experienced when approaching and then interacting and relating to people who do not work in our industry (education).  I appreciated Julian’s support when being asked the hard questions and as a result have developed new relationships with new industries, something we had struggled to know how to do in the past.

How long did it take until you generated results after making the decision to proactively seek sponsorship?

6 months before we had a deal on the table and another 3 months before the money was in the bank.

Any other comments you’d like to include?  

SMS has been the link between our association and the wider world of possible partnerships.  We are so entrenched in our own industry that we have not had the skills or the time to build relationships with suppliers outside of education.  We were unaware of the value Adolescent Success can add to their businesses and have never had the resources to explore relationships beyond our conference exhibitor database.

We have thoroughly enjoyed the process of learning how to articulate our strengths and test the waters with companies with whom we might be a match.  Our confidence in what we provide has grown and we now understand the process of finding ‘matches’ with annual partners.  Not every company you approach is a match for your association, but when you find one that is, it’s magic!  SMS have helped us find that magic, in more places than we originally expected!