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Kicking Off Q1 2024: What Associations Should Know about their Sponsors – and Vice Versa

By: Lori Zoss Kraska, MBA, CFRE and Bruce Rosenthal



The New Year is a great time for associations and their corporate sponsors to get to know each other better. We’re talking about top-tier, often year-long corporate partners and sponsors, not every company that sponsors things like tote bags at the association conference.


In the course of our many conversations with associations and sponsors, we often find that associations know little about their sponsors … other than on what dates companies will renew their sponsorship and pay the sponsor fee. 


Likewise, we often find that corporate executives know little about the associations they sponsor … other than the one or two programs they sponsor.


There are many opportunities for associations and companies to expand their engagement to create more value for associations and their members, as well as corporate partners.


However, it’s hard to expand engagement with an entity that you don’t know. To kick off Q1 2024, we’re offering “5 key pieces of information associations should know about each of their corporate sponsors” and “5 key pieces of information corporate sponsors should know about each association they sponsor”.


What are 5 key pieces of information your association should know about each of their corporate sponsors?

  1. Do you know the sponsor’s business objectives and marketing goals?

  2. Which segment of your association’s audience does each sponsor want to reach?

  3. How does each sponsor determine sponsorship success, such as ROI?

  4. Who are the competitors of each sponsor?

  5. Which key corporate executives should be on the association’s distribution list?


What are 5 key pieces of information corporate sponsors need to know about your association?

  1. Do they know the highlights of your strategic plan in relation to sponsor interest?

  2. Besides conference sponsorship and traditional assets, what other projects or programs are available to sponsor?  Any offerings that tie back to a corporation's interest in DEI and CSR?

  3. What member date and survey highlights would benefit the sponsor's understanding of your association?

  4. What news and updates about your association does your sponsor benefit from knowing?

  5. What opportunities are there for sponsor participation on your association's committees and task forces?  Also, any other thought leadership opportunities for the sponsor?


If you’re an association executive with responsibility for sponsorships, as the New Year begins, make it a point to know more about each of your corporate sponsors. Then, share with each sponsor information about your association. That’s the path to moving from transactional sponsorships to transformational partnerships.


Also, consider keeping this dialogue open throughout the year; quarterly if possible.  As we operate in a fast, ever evolving business world, association and sponsor needs can change quickly.  Having these conversations throughout the year will give you a competitive advantage and plant seeds for future initiatives mutually beneficial to both the association and sponsor.


About the Authors

Combining their extensive years of experience in corporate support and corporate partnership, Lori Zoss Kraska, MBA, CFRE and Bruce Rosenthal have come together to share insights and best practices with a series of Quarterly Engagement Action Items. 


Lori is the founder of Growth Owl, LLC, author of The Boardroom Playbook and creator of  Growth Owl Academy, online corporate sponsorship training. Before starting Growth Owl, LLC, Lori held leadership positions within public media, commercial media, and purpose driven organizations responsible for corporate sponsorship.


Bruce Rosenthal is the founder of Bruce Rosenthal Associates, LLC, co-convener of the Partnership Professionals Network, and author of articles on corporate sponsorship programs.  Before starting Bruce Rosenthal Associates, LLC, Bruce held high level corporate member and engagement positions for various national associations.

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