Associations Report an Increase in Sponsorship Revenue

An increase in revenue was just one of the many association sponsorship trends a new IEG survey revealed. Also on the list: what types of companies associations are partnering with, what benefits they’re offering sponsors, and how associations plan to continue to increase this type of revenue.

There was an almost 40 percent increase in the number of associations reporting higher sponsorship revenue last year as compared to 2011, according to a new IEG survey.

Certain sectors are probably seeing an ebb and flow of [sponsorship revenue] the last few years, but overall associations are putting forward well-organized sponsorship plans.

“The State of Association Sponsorship” found that in 2013, 75 percent of surveyed associations reported an increase their organization’s sponsorship revenue versus 54 percent that reported an increase in 2011. Partly thanks to the economic rebound, increased spending “may also be tied to partnerships that offer stronger value propositions, as brands are looking for associations to serve as strategic advisors to help engage members or other involved individuals,” the report noted.

Among other trends the report found were

  • More than 40 percent of associations are partnering with both companies that are endemic to their industry and more consumer-facing.
  • Almost all associations offer onsite signage at events as a benefit to sponsors. Other popular benefits included recognition on websites and branding materials, rights to promote partnerships, and onsite promotion.
  • To increase sponsorship revenue, 79 percent of associations plan to upsell to existing sponsors. Meanwhile 71 percent plan to develop new sponsorship packages, and 64 percent will seek new sponsor categories.

“The overall environment is much more positive across the board,” Pamela Strother, CAE, a principal at Sponsorship Specialists, said of the association sponsorship space. “Certain sectors are probably seeing an ebb and flow of [sponsorship revenue] the last few years, but overall associations are putting forward well-organized sponsorship plans.”

Strother said nondues revenue became more important after the Great Recession affected how much associations were bringing in from membership dues and meetings. Sponsorship packages have also become more customized, which requires a more research-based, methodical approach to partnership.

So do your homework, Strother said. Research how a partner or sponsor could benefit your organization, how it could take the organization further in its offerings, and don’t expect overnight results.

“My number-one piece of advice is that you’ve got to look ahead 12 to 18 months and determine what your staff can create,” Strother said. It’s unrealistic to expect staff to be able to plan faster than that. They need time to go through the budget, figure out what’s not working, and begin planning around a new product that might work.

“The feedback that I’m getting from the clients I’m working with is using a process to plan 12 to 18 months out has been a huge benefit to the organization across the board,” Strother said.


Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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