Institute of Fundraising: The importance of keeping the sponsorship fires alive

One thing fundraisers always pride themselves on is celebrating success. More than almost any other part of the sector, fundraisers can measure success through their targets and goals. But I believe we are really quite poor at recognising and celebrating the achievements of our staff and those around us. Take the level of nominations for awards, for example.

You would have thought that an award that recognised excellence in volunteer or regional fundraising teams would be swamped with entries. Surely this is an easy way to go further than just words and show staff that they have not only been appreciated, but that they have actually been nominated for an award by those faceless lot back in the head office.

I know that getting together the necessary evidence and filling out the application forms takes time and commitment and we are all too busy getting on with the job in hand. Oh, come on! Does it really take that much effort?

And what about the rewards? The recent excellent awards made in Scotland at the Institute of Fundraising Scotland's annual conference will do more for the morale and spirit of those who were shortlisted or won than any inflation level pay award; not that the two are mutually exclusive, you understand.

Currently, there are lots of different award schemes, including our own set run jointly with Professional Fundraising (applications in the spring of 2005, please). However I want to single out one set that are currently calling for nominations and challenge you to look at putting some area of your work forward over the Christmas period. I have singled out these awards because, unlike many of the other sets, they go way beyond just the sector. These are the annual sponsorship awards organised by Hollis Publishing.

The reason these awards are really interesting for fundraising is that we have a huge amount to learn. It's clear that charities look at sponsorship in a totally different way to the rest of what can only be called a huge industry.

The whole emphasis in the world of sports or the arts is to ensure that the sponsor gets what they need out of the relationship and so, surprise surprise, they ensure that they repeat the sponsorship again and again.

Charities are more inclined to show the sponsor what a wonderful difference their sponsorship made to the cause or the stakeholders. Nice warm feelings for the sponsor, but no repeat funding the next year. Getting a sponsor on board is a real labour of love and hard work. Developing that relationship is easier than the first date.

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