Sponsorship revenues have been decreasing for associations, which don’t receive a big enough piece of the pie from sponsors’ investments. Commercial relationships are evolving, and regular sponsorships levels no longer resonate. Sponsors are not interested in having big booths at conferences – sometimes, they don’t want a booth at all.
A new study conducted in June by the Partnership Professional Network (PPN) revealed that this disconnect between organisations and their partners and sponsors may be due to a lack of comprehensive data collection practices.
All associations involved in the survey track data related to the revenue brought in by partners and sponsors and the benefits that they receive in return. However, they are often overlooking valuable information that could keep sponsors engaged and non-dues revenue flowing. Only about half of the respondents track what sponsors want or need, and only a skimpy 20% tracks which department is responsible for delivering benefits to the sponsor.
The method used to track sponsorships was also investigated. It was discovered that most associations and non-profits still use Excel spreadsheets to track partners and sponsor programmes, while only one third relies on technology-based tracking systems.
As anyone managing data can assure, it’s not only about collection. It's also a matter of using the collected data in the most effective way to benefit a business. Of the organisations involved in the study, the majority affirmed to use the gathered information for budgeting, fulfilment reports and as proof of the programme’s value for prospective sponsors. A mere 46% stated to use the data to assess the performance of the staff responsible for the programme, and 41% to show the board of directors the programme’s value.
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According to PPN’s convener Dan Kowitz, associations are not leveraging the opportunity to use data beyond money tracking. “They are using it for budgeting, instead of using it to have better, deeper conversations with their partners (…) What is most important is to track the performance of all of it, so you can give value to partners” he told Associations Now.
By having a complete overview of practices, benefits’ effectiveness and shortcomings, associations can stop investing resources and energies in fruitless practices and come up with alternative strategies.
But to have an effective data collection strategy, you first need to have the data. This is something associations often find hard to have, or don’t know how to approach the issue.
The most comprehensive way to gather data for an event-related sponsor is to do so onsite. If the partnership continues beyond the event, Kowitz recommends surveying members’ satisfaction.
It might sound like a lot of work, but the ROI will make it worth your time. “If you’re not doing it right now, you’re spending way more hours than you need to keep sponsors who aren’t happy or to go find new sponsors,” Kowitz stated.
Data collection can give associations a new window into best practices to keep sponsors engaged in the long run and what might need to change to keep satisfaction levels high.
And if your association does not have the resources or time to sustain data practices, working with an association management agency might be a valuable solution. Agencies benefit from multiple sectors contacts and can expose an organisation to multiple audiences. They can rely on established relationships with corporations, thus maximising sponsorship opportunities and access to different template sponsorship packages. And thanks to their flexible way of working, they allow you to take time off leadership and give you the freedom to focus on strategy instead.
Any way you want to approach data collection of sponsors programmes, don’t let this opportunity come by and enhance your data practices for happy, healthy sponsorship!