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How to balance the needs of your association’s sponsors and members

by | Jan 24, 2022 | Event Management

Sponsorships are a great source of non-dues revenue. But to be successful, they must provide both sponsor and member value.   

Here’s how to consider the needs of your sponsors and members so that everyone wins. 


By Christine Bergeron, Marketing Coordinator, Community Brands



Developing a sponsorship program is a great way to increase non-dues revenue for your association. But irrelevant sponsor marketing and advertising can be a turnoff to your members.     

It’s a bit of a balancing act. But with a thoughtful approach, you can give companies in your industry exposure to a targeted audience (your members) while giving your members valuable information about relevant products and services.  

Here are some ideas for considering the needs of your association’s sponsors and members so that everyone wins: 

For your members

Be up front.
Let your members know about the importance of sponsorships for your association. Be clear that sponsorship dollars make it possible for you to deliver the content, resources, and other member benefits your organization provides.

Keep things relevant.
Partner with companies whose products and services are truly relevant to your members. Otherwise, not only will your members grow weary of sponsored content, activities, and advertisements, but also the return on investment for your sponsors will be poor.

Stay consistent with your brand and member experience.
Keep your brand and member experience consistent by maintaining control over sponsored activities. Your members are more likely to register for a webinar, download a paper, read an article, or attend an event that has co-branded sponsorship and is hosted by your organization. And, by co-presenting information with your sponsors, you can ensure that the member experience remains consistent.

Ask for feedback.
As you conduct member satisfaction surveys, ask a few questions about their satisfaction with sponsor activities and advertisements and what additional services and content they might like to see in the future. Then, conduct an annual audit of your sponsorships to make sure your members continue to find value in them.

TIP: YourMembership AMS by Community Brands has survey functionality built in, making it easy to build and send targeted surveys and get feedback. 

For your sponsors 

Get to know them better.
Maintaining a strong sponsorship program starts with understanding your sponsors’, and potential sponsors’, needs better. A great way to do this is to survey any current or past sponsors you might have. Ask them questions that will give you insights into how to retain them as sponsors as well as how to attract new sponsors. For example:

  • How did they hear about their latest sponsorship opportunity with your organization?
  • What benefits did they find most important to their sponsorship (such as logo visibility, number of leads, speaking slot, clicks through to content, networking)?
  • What sponsorship opportunities/benefits would they like to see in the future?

Offer a variety of options.
Using the feedback from your sponsors, offer a variety of sponsorship opportunities and packages. For example, you can offer sponsorships for content, your online member community, virtual events, digital advertising, and discount programs for members. Be sure to offer options at various price points so that companies can select the packages that meet their goals and budgets.

Demonstrate value.
Once you have sponsors on board, make sure you show them as much value as possible for their investment. For example, adding extra sponsor value and perks – such as social media shout-outs and public thank yous at member events — will keep your sponsors happy and returning year after year.

Check in.
Be sure to thank your sponsors regularly and ask them for feedback. Give them a chance to let you know if their needs are changing and what might make future sponsorships more valuable to them. 

Maintaining a sponsorship program is a powerful way to drive additional non-dues revenue for your association. Just be sure to balance the needs of your sponsors and your members, and you’ll have a strong sponsorship program for years to come. 

Learn more. 
Find out about more ways to easily create a sponsorship program to increase non-dues revenue. Check out the on-demand toolkit, Sponsorships 101: How to build a sponsorship program to increase non-dues revenue. 

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