Sponsorships are a great way to bring in non-dues revenue.

Here are three ways to build sponsor relationships and drive revenue beyond membership dues.   

Michelle Schweitz, YourMembership Marketing Manager

By Michelle Schweitz, Marketing Manager, Community Brands

What do you do when your association needs to boost revenue beyond membership dues? Sponsorships are a great way to bring in additional non-dues revenue. But, how do you bring in more sponsorships – especially when economic times are tough? 

In my experience working with sponsors, I’ve found that it’s as much about relationship-building as it is about building a sponsor program. Of course, you can’t create relationships with sponsors in one day. But it’s never too late to get started. Having these relationships in place can be extremely valuable – especially when you both need help during a downturn. 

Here are a few approaches that I’ve found particularly effective in building sponsor relationships and driving more sponsorships, even in challenging times: 

  • Get to know your sponsors.  
    Sponsors will keep coming back if they trust you and feel as if they can just pick up the phone and call you. They’re also more likely to take your call if they view you as a friend, not just a professional peer. Ask them about their professional life outside of sponsorships. Ask about their personal life. For example, what do they like to do in their spare time? Do they have any fun plans for the upcoming weekend? Take note of their answers, and ask them specific, relevant questions about how things are going the next time you communicate with them.  
  • Ask for feedback. 
    Survey your sponsors to learn about their current pain points. Find out what they need. Dig into what options they would consider for sponsorships. Especially in a downturn, giving them an opportunity to provide their thoughts in a convenient format is a great way to better understand their needs and offer more compelling sponsorship opportunities. 
     

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

  • Pick up the phone. 
    Especially when times are tough, it’s time to talk with your sponsors. Pick up the phone and call them after you’ve reviewed their survey feedback. Thank them for past sponsorships. Let them know what your organization is doing now. Let them know your members’ pain points. Offer them ways they can bring value to your members – even if their budget is tighter than usual. Get creative and talk about ways you can work together to offer solutions your members need most during the crisis or economic downturn, such as industry information or discounts on products and services. 
  • Put it into action. 
    Building relationships with your sponsors is a great way to increase your associations non-dues revenue but is an on-going process to keep your sponsors coming back. 
    Here are a few easy tips to keep you on track: 
    • Pull a report to see a full list of your sponsors.  
    • Check to see when you last communicated with them.  
    • Make sure you follow through by adding reminders to your calendar to complete tasks and follow-up.  
    • Develop a survey and send it out (immediately after their sponsorship ended for fresh feedback) 
    • And finally keep cultivating your sponsor for your next sponsorship 

Learn more 

Building a strong sponsorship program is a powerful way to drive additional non-dues revenue for your organization – especially in challenging times. For more information, read the tip sheet, Building a Sponsorship Program to Increase Non-Dues Revenue 

For tips on more ways to generate non-dues revenue, read The Small Association’s Guide to Generating Non-Dues Revenue