The Five Steps of Developing Sponsorship Programs
The Employer Partnership Pipeline Revisited: The Philanthropic Level Series
Part 1: The Five Steps of Developing Sponsorship Programs
On March 18, 2014, I had written a blog post titled “The Employer Partnership Pipeline:Create.Cultivate.Maintain” for The EACE Trending Blog. This entry described this pipeline as a way to cultivate employer relationships in an employer development program through defined partnership levels, activities, and metrics of success.
But what happens once that employer reaches the highest level of engagement and sustains that engagement for at least two years in a row? At that point, a philanthropic level should be developed beyond the three tiers described in my previous entry. And what do I mean by philanthropic? An employer becomes a philanthropist at a point when it would like to promote the welfare of the institution and its students through its generosity and donation of funds. This level of commitment can only be achieved through the creation, cultivation, and maintenance of that relationship over the course of several years.
What does this philanthropic level look like? It can take two forms: sponsorship programs and advisory boards. It is worth pointing out that both of these efforts should be developed in collaboration with your Institutional Advancement and Alumni Relations partners. Typically, these campus partners oversee such programs and funds coming into your institution from donors. To start work on these programs without their involvement can create challenges to the programs. Not to mention, if you have never built such programs in the past, you can benefit from their expertise.
During the first part of this series, I will focus on developing a formal sponsorship program.
Here are the five steps to take when developing a sponsorship program.
First, take a look at existing sponsorship programs through other colleges and professional organizations. Your Institutional Advancement Office might also have existing sponsorship programs for other departments and initiatives on-campus. What do the packages include? What are the different levels and dollar amounts?
Next, schedule a meeting with your Institutional Advancement campus partners. This will be a great opportunity to host a curiosity conversation and learn best practices and what the fulfillment process looks like. Also, once you analyze benchmarking data, you can start drafting a sponsorship program based on what would make sense given the situation of your office.
A formal sponsorship program document includes data about your institution, the mission of your office, details regarding your programs, numbers that communicate your reach with these programs, a breakdown of packages with details on event and marketing benefits and pricing, and an identified fulfillment contact. Once a document is created and reviewed by your Institutional Advancement partners, you can then work with your creative department to create a branded version. Your office would also have to consider identifying a formal timeline for the solicitation of future sponsors.
Once a sponsorship program has been created, it is then time to share it with employer partners who have reached the highest level of engagement. This can be done through meetings over coffee or lunch. A packet of information should be created which would include the sponsorship program. A partner from Institutional Advancement should be included in these conversations. The value proposition should be clearly articulated. You might also want to consider making this information available online with an application process in the case that employers who have not reached the highest level of engagement would be interested in giving.
Once an employer signs on for a sponsorship package, the work of your office does not end there. Just like you have to work to maintain the relationships with employers in different ways throughout your employer development pipeline depending on the level of that employer, you would have to also work to maintain the relationship with a philanthropic partner. This involves the status of the fulfillment of their packages, sharing of information, scheduling touch points whether in-person or virtually, and invitation and inclusion in events that may be of interest.
Sponsorship programs give employers the opportunity to buy into packages that would be mutually beneficial. First, packages provide marketing and event benefits that would increase their brand awareness on-campuses and recruit students. Second, it provides offices funds to support students through programming and other allocation of resources.
Angelique Torres Kim has been an intrapreneur in both the private and higher educa
tion sectors for more than nine years. Angelique Kim was a recruiter in the university relations space with over three years of experience recruiting interns/coops and recent college graduates. She focused on creating reports to measure ROI for the recruitment functions and program development to enhance the student experience. She then transitioned to employer relations work in higher education where the functions were new to the institutions built to enhance the career outcomes of graduates and provided oversight for building the foundation for these functions. She is now the founder of LRC Advisors where she consults with organizations and clients on program development, hiring, and career strategies. She has been newly elected to the Board as the Director of Membership Recruitment and Retention and is a blog contributor through the Eastern Association of Colleges and Employers (EACE) and is a member of the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) and is a committee volunteer. She presented during the EACE Annual Conference in May 2013, the Southern Association of Colleges and Employers (SoACE) annual conference in December 2014, the EACE annual conference in June 2015, and the InternBridge Summer Conference in August 2015. Angelique holds her MA in Organizational and Corporate Communication from Emerson College.