November 19, 2015

Operating vs. Event Sponsorship: You Have Choices

Why Consider Operating and Event Sponsorships

First, two definitions:

Event Sponsorships: You give money for an event to be held by a nonprofit. This money, after expenses, helps the nonprofit to continue its services that change lives. At the event, you receive a package of benefits such as signage, introductions, and the opportunity to introduce the keynote.

Operating Sponsorships: You give money to a nonprofit. This helps them to operate their programs for a specific period, such as a month, week, or day. During this period, you’re recognized as “the sponsor.” In advance, you design, with the nonprofit, a collaborative package that fits your needs such as signage, product placement, and employee engagement.

Why Operating Instead of Event Sponsorship?

  1. Time. The longer length of operating sponsorships provides distinct advantages. Why? More time means greater activity options. You might create seven employee teams to serve dinner at the Ronald McDonald House. You create a month of member and volunteer impressions. And/Or you hold a special event at the house for your customers to thank them for being your customers.
  2. Stand Out. Event planners provide a selection of sponsorship levels. For example, a recent Leadership Sarasota event had twenty plus sponsors at six levels. Most operating sponsorships allow you to stand-alone and thus stand out.
  3. Greater Impact. If giving back is your main goal, operating sponsorships provide more nonprofit resources. The Wildlife Haven Rehab in Odessa, Florida, explains, “Your sponsor dollars specifically target our greatest expenses…” Successful operating sponsorships yield 90 cents on a dollar invested for the nonprofit. In contrast, successful events yield only 50 cents.

After reading this you may decide that event sponsorships better fit your business goals (After all, I could easily write a sister article on why you should consider event sponsorships–they provide a different value.) My point? You have multiple opportunities to change lives and reach business goals. As a business owner, first be aware of the richness of your choices. Choose thoughtfully. Be proud of your sponsorships.


Karen Eber Davis

Karen Eber Davis provides customized advising and coaching around nonprofit strategy and board development. People leaders hire her to bring clarity to sticky situations, break through barriers that seem insurmountable, and align people for better futures. She is the author of 7 Nonprofit Income Streams and Let's Raise Nonprofit Millions Together.


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