A while ago, we wrote about putting the fun back in funding for your next gathering.
Given the unexpected turn 2021 has taken, everyone can do with a little something for nothing, so here’s our (very unofficial) official guide to efficiently securing funding for your next gathering – virtual or in-person. We prefer to call them partners, rather than sponsors. It’s easy for sponsors to throw money at something and expect silver service – but what you want is a partner who’s as invested in the outcomes of your gathering as you and your participants.
Nail the purpose of your gathering and why a partner should want to be involved (and no, “we’re going to throw you to a pack of unqualified, vaguely relevant, prospective clients” is not a good reason).
Pro tip: For even better results, involve prospective partners in the process of defining the purpose and desired outcomes of your gathering - is there scope for designing with their goals in mind? No one wants to miss out on a party they helped plan…
Identify the most suitable financial model for your partnership campaign (e.g. several partners contributing affordable amounts, or just a few with deep pockets?). Decide on a strategy and stick with it. It’ll be tempting to cave and start handing out discounts. Don’t do it. A credible and astute partner will see the value in your gathering and want to be involved.
Option A: Figure out how many tiers you’re going to offer – the fewer the better. The more equal you make partner tiers, the better your chances of everyone working together for collective success. Try not to ‘gold, silver & bronze’ them – this is not the Olympics.
Option B: Avoid pre-packaged offerings. It’s a bit more work to create bespoke packages, but they allow for discretionary pricing and promise a better fit with a partner’s goals, resulting in a better perception of value for money.
Decide what your deliverables are going to be. Here are some fictional (but relatable) examples:
Possibility to co-design the experience
Meaningful connections with other partners & participants
First right of refusal to partnership at a subsequent gathering
X number of spots reserved at the gathering with additional spots available at a handsomely discounted rate
Tasteful brand recognition leading up to and at the event
A commitment to diversity, inclusion and representation*
A commitment to sustainable practices in the design and delivery of your gathering*
* These commitments are set to become de rigeur, so don’t get caught behind the curve.
Start putting together a shortlist. Make life easier for yourself by only adding names and organisations aligned with what you’re trying to do and/or you have a pre-existing relationship with. Pulling names off a random database (does anyone still do this?!) or stalking strangers on LinkedIn is unlikely to result in successful deal closures. Arrange them in order of categories and likelihood.
Pick up the phone (or if you really must, start scheduling those Zoom calls. Calendly is a tool we’re crushing on, and Hubspot offers a version of it)
Things you can say (using the example of an industry-wide annual gathering – and if you’re committing to following through, of course):
Planning an industry gathering you should be a part of
We have been missing something of this scale in “Location X” / “Industry Y”
Very much organised “by industry, for industry”
Identified key challenges and opportunities including ABC and 123 that we can collectively work on
Intended to celebrate the “Location X” / “Industry Y” community
We can really only do this with the support of partners like yourselves
We’d love to offer (refer to Step 4) at (refer to Step 2)
This is going to be an engaging and participant-driven gathering, not a webinar or Death by PowerPoint exercise
We want to build a real sense of community and consistency around this gathering, and we want you to be a part of it
Work in true partnership with your confirmed partners, deliver a memorable and meaningful gathering, drive real change within your industry or community. GO DOWN IN HISTORY.
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