Happy December! There are only four weeks left in 2017! Boom!
Where did THAT year go? What did you achieve with sponsors this year and what have you learned?
During December and January (here in the Southern Hemisphere at least), the corporate sector takes a complete break from assessing and accepting sponsorship approaches. (Notice I didn't say, sponsorship PROPOSALS? Especially those bronze, silver, and gold ones... If you're still creating those precious metal proposals, make sure you check out my webinar that shows you why you are losing out on much bigger sponsorship investment!)
So, if there isn't an opportunity to get a sponsorship across the line before next year, how will you spend your time?
The end of the year is the ideal time to reflect on the year that's been and start planning what you need to do to play a bigger game with sponsors in 2018.
Self-reflection provides powerful opportunities for us to learn about ourselves and develop our skills as sponsorship seekers and corporate partnerships managers.
Here are 35 helpful questions to help you to get clarity on which parts of your sponsorship strategy worked, which parts need tweaking, and what brand-spanking new things you can implement with your partners to start playing big in your sector and making the kind of impact your mission talks about!
- How much did you (and your association) know about sponsorship before you started this year? What have you learned about working with sponsors that you didn't know before?
- What process did you go through to attract sponsors? (Board approval, deciding what to offer, proposal creation and so on.) Detail the pathway you created step-by-step. Are there any gaps?
- What process did you go through to work with and retain sponsors? How have you meaningfully thanked them this year for their support? (TIP: Only about 3% of non-profits reach out and thank their sponsors!)
- In what ways have you gotten better at attracting and retaining your partners?
- In what ways do you think you need to improve?
- What problems/hiccups did you encounter while you were working with sponsors this year? How did you solve them?
- What resources did you use (or develop) while working with sponsors? Which ones were especially helpful? Which ones would you use again?
- How has your association grown? Have you improved your social, animal welfare, and/or environmental impact? Are you further towards your goals as a result of working with sponsors? How could you use these gains to more regularly tell your story and share with sponsors?
- How did you (your team, your Board, and association at large) feel about working with sponsors this year? What parts of it do you/they particularly like? Dislike? Why?
- What was especially satisfying to you about the process of attracting and working with sponsors?
- What did/do you find frustrating about it?
- What were your expectations around attracting or working with sponsors? Did this year with sponsors meet your expectations? What about your Board and team?
- What were your goals for sponsorship this year? Did your goals change as you worked on your strategy? Did you reach your goals?
- What did you learn about yourself as you worked on your sponsorship strategy?
- What did you learn about your team, Board, and association as you worked on your sponsorship strategy?
- Have you changed any ideas (or judgments) you used to have about collaborating with the corporate sector?
- Do you believe that you and your association approached your partnership strategy the way other non-profits approach sponsors (i.e., your competitors)?
- If no, in what ways did you do it differently?
- If yes, in what ways was your approach or processes similar?
- What is the one thing you particularly want brands to notice when they look at your association/ cause/ mission?
- What is the one thing you wish brands knew about your association and what you would be like to work with as a partner?
- What are the questions you wish you could ask sponsors, but just don't?
- Finish this sentence: "One thing I would like to improve is ..."
- What would you change if you had a chance to make a fresh approach to some (or all) of your sponsors over again?
- What will you change in the next revision of your sponsorship strategy for next year?
- What's the one thing that you have seen other associations or events doing in sponsorship that you would like to try next year?
- As you look at your year with current sponsors, what's one thing that you would like to try to improve?
- What goals would you like to set for yourself for next year?
- What would you like to spend more time working on?
- What do you want your Board, team, or CEO to know about you (what things you're good at, would like to try, creative passions, relevant skills)?
- What things might you want more help with next year?
I hope this list of questions brings you and your team more clarity on how your 2017 sponsorship year has been and where you need to head in 2018. There's no doubt that making time for self-reflection is vital as it develops critical thinking skills, personal responsibility, useful failure, adaptability, and more.
When we debrief on the year that's been, either solo, or using these questions with your team, we are able to reflect on everything including the process, the choices and discoveries we made, as well as what didn't go quite as expected. It's when we piece them all together into a learning experience (or "Aha!" moments) that reflective learning becomes real. I wish you a wonderful end to 2017. Don't waste these last weeks! There's still time to complete the things you need to.
If you're looking for more professional development opportunities, don't forget to check out the Fundraising Academy. With 40+ course, 50+ templates and 200+ hours of content, you're bound to find the support you need.
Don't forget my upcoming webinar: Create Your Ideal Sponsor Avatar on the 13th December at 11.00am AEST. It's a great time to tease out who it is you serve, and where the alignment lies between your association and your perfect partner! Read more about it here.
International speaker and leading corporate partnership advisors to the Non-Profit Sector, Abby Clemence has 25+ years' experience in marketing, adult education, communications, event management and corporate / cause-related sponsorship. Her key passion involves teaching revenue-generation strategies to organizations that transform their performance, maximise their impact and increase their income.
With us moving towards CSAE National Conference 2018 in the New Year, we continue to look for new sponsors for Ottawa. Get in touch if your business or organization is interested.