Six questions to find the sustainability – sponsorship sweet spot

Six questions to find the sustainability – sponsorship sweet spotThe road to event sustainability and social good sure is sweeter when it’s paved with a little sponsorship.

While some “green” event practices save money or have a neutral budget effect, some efforts take additional resources of time or money. While budget can sometimes be included in registration and ticket costs, others are ideal opportunities for sponsorship. But how do you get started? And make sure it’s a win-win, low-risk prospect for you, and your sponsor?

The following questions can help you find the event sustainability-sponsorship sweet spot:

  1. What sustainability sponsorships can we offer? From fair trade breakfasts to bike building CSR projects and pedal-powered happy hour, the sky is the limit for a creative team that wants to use their event powers for the good of the planet and the people who live here. Take 15 minutes at your next event planning meeting and brainstorm how many fun, sustainability experiences you can come up with. Need some inspiration to get your creative juices flowing? Check out these ideas!
  2. Who cares about the issue our project helps address? Once you have your project, get clarity on the sustainability issue it helps address. Does it reduce waste? Curb carbon emissions? Alleviate poverty? Promote education or improved health? Do some research to find potential sponsors who care about your cause. Reviewing their websites and corporate reports can help. For example, if you’re considering buying repurposed conference materials from a social enterprise, seek prospective sponsors that support waste reduction, or skill development for marginalized workers that might be employed by the enterprise.
  3. What’s the sponsor’s sustainability pedigree? Not all sponsors all well-suited to certain sustainability projects. In fact, some associations might be downright controversial. So it’s important to research your sponsor prospect’s history and values before entering into an agreement. Ask your event team and select attendees about their perceptions of the partnership before making a commitment. If any groups are expected to benefit from your sustainability program, by receiving donations perhaps, consult with the beneficiary to ensure the sponsorship association is appropriate.
  4. Do event planning practices align with the sponsor’s values? Conversely, consider how planning practices can support or detract from your sponsor’s values. Worst case scenario (taken from an actual experience): a major corporation agrees to sponsor a session about sustainability at your conference. Just before show time, an attendee tweets a picture of their logo framing a head table set with bottled water, with an appropriately shaming comment about the waste implied by the practice. Not good! So make sure your onsite practices reinforce sponsor values and sustainability messages.
  5. How do sponsor recognition methods illustrate shared sustainability values? Simple touches say a lot, so think about the little details that enrich the social good delivered by the event, and elevate the reputation of the sponsor. For example, you could thank your sustainable seafood reception sponsor using a sign at the sushi bar. Or you could make more impact by producing a cool edible QR code. So consider fun, unique and zero-waste ways to drive attendees to learn about issues and sponsor efforts to address them.
  6. How can we measure the sponsor ROI? Like any sponsorship arrangement, give thought to how you’ll measure sponsor impressions. Creative sustainability sponsorships can become popular social media topics. They can also be creatively pushed through mobile applications, which may be gamified through green trivia and hunts that also encourage attendees to make sustainable choices. For example, why not reward attendees each time they reuse their sponsored water bottle? Or make a visit to a green sponsor booth? Don’t under-estimate the value of traditional (online) evaluations where you can seek attendee ratings of sponsored sustainability efforts. Attendee comments may also be a source of good ideas to consider in future.

What creative and successful sustainability and social good sponsorships have your corporate events hosted? Comment below and let us know!

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