Sponsorship Shifts to leverage in 2023

Sponsorships and partnerships play a vital role in providing funding and resources to support the work of association. While return on investment is still king, following are some of the trends associations should be leveraging to ensure their success in 2023.

The importance of digital partnerships

In the digital age, it is more important than ever for associations to have a strong online presence and to be able to communicate effectively with their stakeholders through digital channels. This means that digital partnerships are becoming increasingly important in the association sector. To capitalise on this trend, associations can consider seeking out sponsors and partners who can provide digital resources and expertise, such as website development, social media marketing, and email marketing.

The rise of experiential sponsorships

Experiential marketing, which involves creating immersive and interactive experiences for consumers, is becoming increasingly popular in the association sector. To capitalise on this trend, associations can consider offering sponsors and partners the opportunity to create experiential activations at their events and conferences, or to create branded content that can be shared with their members.

The importance of sustainability

As sustainability becomes an increasingly prominent issue, sponsors and partners are increasingly seeking to align with organisations that are committed to sustainability. To capitalise on this trend, associations can consider highlighting their sustainable practices in their sponsorship and partnership materials and seek out sponsors and partners who share their commitment to sustainability.

The rise of content marketing

Content marketing, which involves creating and sharing valuable and relevant content with the goal of attracting and retaining customers, is becoming increasingly popular in the association sector. To capitalise on this trend, associations can consider offering sponsors and partners the opportunity to create branded content that can be shared with their members. This can include blog posts, articles, videos, and other types of content.

The importance of employee engagement

Employee engagement is becoming an increasingly important in sponsorship and partnership decisions, as employees are often the primary ambassadors for a company’s brand. To capitalise on this trend, associations can consider offering sponsors and partners the opportunity to engage with their employees through events, volunteering opportunities, and other initiatives. This can help to build stronger relationships and increase employee loyalty.

The need for flexibility and agility

In a rapidly changing world, it is important for associations to be flexible and agile to respond to new challenges and opportunities. This means that sponsorship and partnership agreements should be designed to be adaptable and responsive to change, rather than being rigid and inflexible. To capitalise on this trend, associations can consider offering sponsors and partners the opportunity to renew or modify their agreements on a regular basis, rather than locking them into long-term contracts.

The rise of cause-related sponsorships

As consumers become increasingly socially and environmentally conscious, they are more likely to support brands that align with their values. This trend is also evident in the association sector, with sponsors and partners increasingly seeking to align with causes that are important to their stakeholders. To capitalise on this trend, associations can consider highlighting the social and environmental impacts of their work in their sponsorship and partnership materials and seek out sponsors and partners who share their values.

By understanding and responding to the latest trends in association sponsorships and partnerships, associations can position their organisations for success in the coming years.

If you are looking for support to optimise your partnership programs, please contact Julian Moore from SMS at julian@smsonline.net.au

JOURNAL: Associations Evolve: 2023 & Beyond Journal Released

We are excited to announce the release of Associations Evolve: 2023 & Beyond Journal, a compilation of articles from over 50 association thought leaders from around the globe.

This journal offers a unique perspective on the future of associations and the role they will play in shaping industries and communities. From innovative ideas for growth and sustainability to strategies for adapting to changing environments, the articles in this journal provide valuable insights and inspiration for association professionals.

As the association landscape continues to evolve, it is important for professionals to stay informed and stay ahead of the curve. The Associations Evolve: 2023 & Beyond Journal is a must-read for anyone looking to drive positive change and impact within their organisation. Get your copy today and join the conversation on the future of associations.

JOURNAL: Associations Evolve: 2022 & Beyond

Forty-six association experts from around the world have collaborated to produce a collection of articles showcasing contemporary thinking on governance, membership, revenue, events, and much more.

This is a great resource for those looking for inspiration and motivation to make 2022 your best year ever. It makes great holiday reading for those who are feeling particularly enthusiastic (tip: this publication pairs well with red wine and cheese).


Download “Associations Evolve: 2022 & Beyond”


This publication is part of our Associations Evolve project which looks for ways to help associations to thrive into the future. 

Thanks to Beau Cummin from Visual Traffic for his fabulous work designing this publication, Northern Territory Business Events for their great support of this project, and all our wonderful contributors.  

We hope you will find this collection of articles from experts in the association space as informative, inspiring, and motivating as we did. 

All the best for a fun and relaxing break over the festive period. I hope you arrive back at work refreshed and ready for an awesome 2022.

Warm regards,
Belinda 

VIDEO: “Sponsorship Update June 2020: Who’s Sponsoring Associations This Month?”

This past month has seen a number of really exciting sponsorship and partnerships proceed. In this session Julian Moore will talk about what sponsorship deals are closing, who is currently looking to sponsor, how best to approach, and opportunities that are currently available for associations seeking sponsorship funds. In this session Julian shares the highlights on what’s happening in sponsorship this month.

Watch the video

VIDEO: How to Create Your Association Partnership Recovery Program

This is a recording of the 45 minute webinar run on Friday 3 April 2020. COVID-19 has decimated the traditional funding sources of many associations. With events and their associated sponsorship in disarray for the foreseeable future, associations are scrambling to deliver enhanced services to members remotely and remain financially sustainable. Sponsors are facing their own challenges. Organisations that traditionally provide sponsorship are currently more concerned with what will happen to their staff and adjusting to the new operating environment. When they do begin looking at new opportunities, they will be assessing them by their ability to generate a strong measurable return to help them rebuild their momentum. Now is the time to retain your existing sponsors and, as the timing becoming appropriate, ensure your partnership program is ready to come back with a bang. In this webinar, Julian Moore, Australasia’s foremost association sponsorship practitioner, will discuss how other associations are successfully adapting their offerings and the key steps needed to create your partnership recovery program to ensure strong revenues into the future.

Watch the video.

Download the slides.

WHITEPAPER: Association Apocalypse

The operating landscape of associations is undergoing a seismic shift. Associations need to act now to ensure they can navigate these shifts to emerge stronger and more relevant than ever before. In my new whitepaper, Association Apocalypse, you can read more about the:

  • Six fundamental shifts occurring in the association operating landscape,
  • Three key models associations will need to re-invent, and
  • Eleven core operational enablers associations must get right along the way.

This whitepaper has been designed to assist association leaders to understand the scale of the change coming and create a platform for productive discussions within their associations about appropriate pathways forward. If you have more questions please feel free to contact us to find out how we can assist.

Read the whitepaper.

Creating Compelling Sponsorship Proposals

Potential sponsors don’t sit at their desks all day waiting for your proposal to arrive on their desk. For many, sponsorship is one part of a larger role which keeps them very busy. This means your proposal isn’t just competing with other sponsorship proposals (of which there will be many) but also with many other distractions for a share of their attention. Having a well-crafted, compelling partnership document is a critical first step in getting the attention of a potential partner… click here to read the whitepaper.

Are You Undercharging Your Sponsors?

I was sitting in an association board meeting recently and a discussion on the topic of “how much should we be charging sponsors” was underway.

The discussion became quite robust and when I heard one person argue that they shouldn’t raise the sponsors fee because “we don’t have thousands of members” I had to step in.  

The conversation went something like this …

  • Me:  How many you are currently using the services of your current investments partner?
  • Board:  Almost all of us.
  • Me:  Of those using his services, how much in total do you have invested with them?
  • Board:  [After a quick consultation around the table] Almost a billion dollars.
  • Me:  Wow, that’s a seriously large amount of money. How much would that be worth in fee income to that partner?
  • Board:  Not sure. At least a million per annum. Probably more.
  • Me:  And how much are you charging them per annum for the partnership?
  • Board:  Around $10,000 … and it’s exclusive.
  • Me:  Hmmm … Do you think you might want to edge up that partnership fee just a touch? 

While the size of the investment was somewhat stunning in this instance, this situation is not uncommon in the association sector. Few organisations devote much time to measuring the return on investment the sponsor is gaining from the arrangement. This invariably leads to a situation where you either:

a)  Lose the sponsor because they aren’t receiving value (and you haven’t cared enough about the partnership to make sure they are); or

b)  Lose out on income because you are providing value to your sponsor that is way out of proportion to what they are investing.

Talk to your sponsors. You need to know how THEY define the success of the partnership. Once you know how they are measuring success, you can track and report against those variables. I guarantee you this information will be invaluable. It will become the focus of discussions when renewing or on-boarding sponsors. And, in our exceptionally competitive sponsorship industry, it will set you apart from the competition in a very positive way.

Securing New, High-Value Partners is Not About Selling Your Organisation …

ecuring new, high-value partnerships is NOT about selling your organisation. 

When you send your proposal, the purpose of your proposal is not to tell the potential sponsor everything about your organisation. The proposal is a teaser whose role is to excite the reader into wanting to learn more. 

 When you follow up your proposal on the phone, the purpose of the call is not to tell the potential sponsor everything about your organisation. The purpose of that call is to secure a face to face meeting to discuss things further.

And when you do get that meeting, the purpose of the meeting is not to tell the potential sponsor everything about your organisation. The purpose of the meeting is to ask questions to learn more about what the sponsor is trying to achieve, what marketing channels work most comfortably for them, and what their idea of a “successful” partnership looks like. It is your opportunity to build a genuine relationship with the individuals in the other organisation and seriously evaluate whether they are the right partner for your organisation.

With the information you have gathered, you can tailor your sponsorship package to effectively achieve the outcomes your potential sponsor is seeking in a manner both organisations are comfortable with. Now is your opportunity to make a compelling, high value, offer with measurable, tangible outcomes for all parties.