A guest blog post from Bob Harris, CAE
Associations have postponed or cancelled many events during these challenging times.
The lost sponsorships represent significant income as a percentage of events and the
Take steps to save the sponsor relationships and revenue.
• Re-Purpose – Find new opportunities for sponsors. As the association adjusts
so do the prospects for sponsorships. Offer new opportunities for remote
learning, virtual happy hours, industry town-hall meetings, etc.
• Roll-Over – Propose to roll-over the sponsorship to the same event next year.
• Re-Direct – Offer an alternative such as funding a charitable initiative or giving to
the association’s foundation. This may allow for an IRS charitable contribution.
• Refund – The least preferable option is a refund. Be mindful of business
conditions that have impacted sponsors.
Sponsor Opportunity Menu
A sponsorship menu is an inventory of all potential opportunities. Avoid “nickel and
diming” companies for money throughout the year. Encourage a company to include
sponsorship in their annual budget.
The menu is created by staff, usually during the summer, so companies can consider
their relationship with the association for the year ahead. An excellent model is
available at https://www.okrestaurants.com/partnership_opportunities.php.
Because of the cancellations and postponements, the menu should be updated now for
2020, and promote 2021 opportunities.
Be sensitive to the changing needs of sponsors. For example, they may no longer have
funds for attendance at a conference but would appreciate increased exposure through
website banners and digital newsletter advertisements.
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Note: Bob Harris, CAE, provides free governance tips and templates at