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Three Ways to Devalue Your Corporate Sponsorships via Third-Party Fundraising Events

By Diane Knoepke Jan 26, 2010

I read a white paper, written by Blackbaud and Event360, this morning that discusses third-party fundraising events and how to maximize them. While there are good nuggets of information about logistics and tracking, the brief does not touch on how to have third-party events live harmoniously with corporate sponsorship. In fact, the paper asserts that “traditional event organizers need to view independent fundraising as supplementary, not competitive, to their existing development portfolio.”

I disagree with that statement, as it’s built on some bad assumptions when you consider the corporate sponsorship and cause marketing segments of the “development portfolio.” For those organizations seeking corporate marketing partners, third party events do need to be viewed as competitive.

Here are three assumptions to debunk within your own organizations to make sure third-party events don’t devalue your corporate partnerships.

Bad Assumption #1: Most third-party events are done by individuals, or clubs, or schools, or endurance athletes, so they don’t compete with corporate partners. This is an outdated mentality, as the definition of “marketer” has broadened beyond multi-national corporations and local businesses. Non-profit and governmental organizations are buying sponsorship on a regular basis. Hospitals, schools and membership organizations market themselves to attract customers and drive traffic. Just like corporate sponsors and cause marketers.

Bad Assumption #2: Just because the event organizer is asking for consumer promotional rights, doesn’t mean it falls into the cause marketing or sponsorship realm.  If a third party can use the organization’s intellectual property (logo, imagery, etc.) in/on any public-facing communication (like a web site or poster), the third party needs to pay for the value of those benefits one way or another. And they need to live by the branding rules the organization requires of its corporate sponsors and cause marketing partners. All of this takes staff time to service, so the organization better make sure the value exchange is worth it.

You might say that if it’s an individual organizing the third-party event, this assumption is irrelevant. If an individual is not fronting a company or organization in any way, then o.k., they’re probably not a sponsor or cause marketer. And if the individual is not fronting a company or organization in any way, then they probably don’t need consumer promotional rights. So that takes care of that.

Bad Assumption #3: Cause marketing is totally different than third-party events. What’s the quickest way to do cause marketing without following the organization’s cause marketing guidelines? Call it a third-party event. Parking lot parties and special shopping nights come to mind. Sure, many organizations have policies that straighten this out, but I’ve seen many more that lack enforceable procedures to make sure companies do not devalue actual cause marketing campaigns by working around the system.



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Diane Knoepke

About the Author

Diane is managing director, client leadership for ESP Properties, where she supports the consulting team’s growth and innovation. Throughout her career, she has advised more than 50 property and brand clients on marketing and social value creation, sales, measurement and strategy. She delights in helping people change organizations more effectively. Follow Diane on Twitter!



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