Winnipeg in the summer is a seemingly endless series of festivals and free concerts. The winters are cold but summers rock! In addition to heavy hitters such as the Jazz Winnipeg Festival and Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival, there are also smaller events taking place across the province. These events grow as their sponsorship programs grow. Successful organizations carefully foster those corporate relations through accountability and the demonstration of results.
Corporate sponsorships, unlike charitable donations, are part of the company’s advertising strategy. I’ve written about this distinction as well as what corporations should look for in a sponsorship opportunity in a previous post.
As with any advertising, one of the things sponsors look for is ROI (return on investment). They want to know that they’ve invested their money wisely. Although the sponsor has the ultimate responsibility for determining ROI, an event that wants to grow and maintain sponsors needs to help in this area.
An absolute must is a post-event evaluation report that includes the following:
- Number of attendees as well as demographic information – Get an accurate count of attendees so that the sponsors know how many people were exposed to their logos and messaging. Demographic information is helpful as well. What age group attends your event? Is it primarily families or young , single people? What is their educational background and income level? Do a survey with attendees, if possible, to get this kind of information. This helps sponsors target their advertising more precisely.
- Itemize where and when sponsor logos or messaging appeared at the event – Take photos or video to include along with a narrative description in the report. Provide screen shots of the event’s website and include the number of hits and any other relevant numbers.
- Evaluate media coverage – Outline the media coverage obtained and include any available audience or readership numbers. Include news clippings and copies of advertisements—particularly where the sponsor’s logo or name has appeared.
- Include feedback from attendees and volunteers – Sponsors want to be part of successful events that people feel good about. Testimonials or survey feedback from attendees and volunteers can be part of demonstrating success as well as areas for improvement.
- Outline plans for next time – If it is a recurring event, demonstrate to your sponsors that you are interested in its improvement. Itemize what you plan to refine or change for next year for an even better event and/or larger audience.
Package the above information in a nicely designed report that demonstrates the professionalism of the event and your appreciation of sponsor participation. You can also use the info in this post-event summary to position your event with new sponsors or for an increase in contribution for returning sponsors.
I know from organizing a number of charitable events that once the event is over, the tendency is to sigh with relief, roll up the banners and forget about it until it’s time to plan the next one. But the event’s not over until you complete the evaluation. It’s not only crucial in terms of relationship-building with sponsors, it’s necessary for your own organization’s decision making as well.