Sponsorship: partnership or deal?

Sponsorship has always been defined as a temporary partnership, whereby something is jointly developed, promoted, and implemented.

The partnership is planned over several years, and during this period the services and returns should balance each other. Both sides consciously take risks, and emotions and messages stand prominently in the foreground. It has functioned this way for decades. Sponsors and beneficiaries have exchange views and treated each other with mutual respect and tolerance.

But all too often, emotions and personal preferences have come into play. This appears, for example, in the influence of members of management on the selection of supported projects. Decisions have not always been based solely on rational factors.

Therefore, over time methods have been developed which allow a more rational procedure for making sponsorship decisions. Today, prudent defining of goals (branding, business, employer positioning), logical implementation, and reliable measurements of effectiveness and success are the standard. This helps to integrate rational factors into the evaluation and decision process, besides the emotions involved.

But unfortunately decisions nowadays are made almost exclusively due to the results of quantitative measurements – the emotional framework of the partnership is ignored. Sponsorship is often degraded to a purely commercial deal with short-term optimization of success taking center stage. • But must a sponsor always decide everything on the basis of market research? Are understanding and tolerance (e.g. as with the injury of an athlete) not also important? • Is it worth it to jeopardize multi-year partnerships on account of short-term underperformance?

Maintaining the relationship, the mutual trust inherent in the partnership, and the ideas of promotion and support should not simply be pushed into the background. For these elements are still today the cornerstone of successful, sustainable sponsorship. Modern partnership management is based both on the results of effectiveness assessment and on equitable collaboration between sponsor and beneficiary. Only in this way does sponsorship properly function and achieve maximum effectiveness.

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