Sponsorships: Sponsorships develop to allow financial backing of a public-interest program or project by a firm, as a means of enhancing its corporate image.

Corporate Sponsorships: Investment Brings Involvement


One of my roles is as a growth financing intermediary. Recently, I have been seeing more and more situations in which Corporate Sponsorshipowners of mid-sized companies haven’t learned enough about the various types of growth financing and are inadvertently chasing the wrong kind of money.

One of the most common mistakes is the assumption that the company must be able to follow through on its plan ALONE, and the only thing a possible funding source will provide is MONEY. Financing from a commercial bank works that way (loans and lines), but just about every other type of financing involves PARTICIPATION. A venture firm won’t want to stand on the sidelines if/when the decision to invest has been made. They expect to be required to provide an expert “at the table” (on your board) to help growth and success happen. Similarly, growth financing achieved through joint ventures involves an expanded leadership team. Also, corporate sponsorship isn’t about handing over money to just watch your company “do its thing.”

Non-profit organizations have figured this out. Maybe their development officers can only talk about their cause when requesting contributions from foundations, but when corporate sponsorship money is involved, the corporation’s marketing department expects their sponsorship money to fund a partnership, produce something exciting, fit their messaging and accelerate the generation of prospective customers…which after all is the goal of marketing.

The folks at Frito-Lay are intimately involved and visible at the golf tournament they sponsor. The people from Dunkin’ Donuts are involved with the Thanksgiving Day Parade in Philadelphia. They don’t just hand parade managers a check and then stay home. IBM and AT&T have been involved with the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) for over 30 years.

Over the years, my companies have successfully worked with over 50 repeat corporate sponsors (IBM, SNET, Bell Atlantic, Bell South, Northern Telecom, Wachovia, Entrepreneurial Edge magazine, etc.). That would not have happened if the projects were small or if they weren’t economic development strategic initiatives to help mid-sized companies to continue to grow.

Does your organization have a big bold project in mind that is not happening only because you have convinced yourself that you must go it alone and you lack sufficient funds to execute on a large scale? Why stop? Why ask for a loan or a line when you can do something that could really make a difference with corporate partners?

IEG is an excellent resource for information about corporate sponsorship. I agree with their promotional description: IEG is the global authority on sponsorship and the leading provider of sponsorship consulting, analytics, measurement, valuation, research and publications. Visit IEG at www.SPONSORSHIP.com.

Persevere, Answer Questions, Do Demonstrations, Create Payment Plans…and Reassure

The extended period of uncertainty following the recent recession continues to raise the cost of doing business.  These days, an experienced sales person expects to explain the value to more people, provide free demonstrations, answer lots of questions, create payment plans, and reassure decision makers.  You might find that reassuring people is becoming the most important step.  Cash is tight. Jobs are at risk.  Few people are willing to take a chance or be an early adopter because they can’t afford to look like a fool.

As a few of my recent blog entries have shared, I have been working on a new economic development initiative that will help midsized companies rebound. When folks see the statistics, hear the approach, and review the business model, anyone who interacts with midsized businesses quickly sees the value and gets excited that it could help the economy. It’s one of those win/win/win models where:

  • the clients pay a little to gain a lot
  • the service providers make a difference, earn some money, and benefit from great marketing
  • the sponsors invest a little and are applauded as visionary leaders

But even something like this has difficulty attracting sponsors.  WHY?

In some corporations, their own bureaucracies are so difficult that a regional President has very little chance to shift priorities for even $15,000. In other corporations, the decision has been made about which nonprofit organizations will receive their support.  Even if/when too little return on investment is resulting from those decisions; it is too difficult to consider a change.  Other corporations say they like innovation, but sponsor only traditional approaches.

The concept I/we have been working on isn’t a traditional 501C3 or 501C6 entity. I have recruited over 50 service providers, and we are determined to launch this initiative in 2012. Like other sales people these days, I have to persevere, answer questions, do demonstrations, create payment plans, and reassure. Interestingly, involving the legal and accounting firms in the sponsorship calls is needed to help reassure corporate executives.


Aldonna R. Ambler, CMC, CSP has earned the right to be called THE GROWTH STRATEGIST™. She has won over 2 dozen national and statewide “entrepreneur of the year” awards for the resilient growth of her international businesses across 4 recessions.  Her midsized BtoB service, technology, and distribution clients get on…and then stay on…the published lists of the fastest growing privately held companies. All of her own service businesses (strategic planning, executive advisory, growth financing, talk show, speaking, search) help privately held midsized companies achieve accelerated growth with sustained profitability™. Ambler is wrapping up her 7th year hosting a weekly peer-to-peer-to-peer on line talk show at www.Business.VoiceAmerica.com and www.growthstrategistshow.com that features interviews with CEOs/Presidents of midsized companies (typically between $20 and 200 Mil/yr) sharing success tips about the growth strategy-of-the-week. Family owned businesses are being emphasized in 2011. Ambler is in the process of launching her 8th enterprise. She can be reached toll free at 1-888-Aldonna or at Aldonna@AMBLER.com

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