Municipal Sponsorship Programs – The Need for a Strategic Approach

As many municipalities begin to seriously consider corporate partnerships as a means of generating revenue to off-set program and service delivery costs, they need to be mindful that a haphazard approach towards corporate revenue generation can lead to diminished municipal image, frustrated staff and minimal results.

Our firm recently completed a comprehensive Sponsorship and Advertising Strategy for the City of Ottawa that when fully implemented, will generate over $3 million in annual revenue to the municipality. Based on our research of over 100 municipalities throughout Canada and the US, the City’s approach to corporate revenue generation is by far, one of the most strategic and ambitious in North America. The Sponsorship Report Article:

Critical to moving the strategy forward was the City’s forward-thinking approach in realizing that in order to be successful over the long-term, they would need to take a coordinated, professional approach towards identifying, packaging and marketing the City’s assets as well as putting the infrastructure in place to manage the program and deliver on the promises to its corporate partners.

So what does it mean to take a strategic approach towards municipal sponsorship development? Based on our experience with the City of Ottawa and other public sponsorship programs, the following are key strategic elements that need to be considered in establishing a municipal program:

  • Having a Policy in place that supports the goals of the program, establishes the parameters for corporate partnerships and ensures transparency in the process.
  • Having a governance structure in place to vet opportunities and ensure that the best interests of the municipality are maintained;
  • Getting senior-level buy-in for the program across all business units that will be affected by the program;
  • Addressing perceived or real barriers upfront on such issues as “How will the dollars raised be allocated?” and “How will this affect program budgets?
  • Identifying the full scope of assets that the municipality can market to potential corporate partners as well as the fair market value of these assets;
  • Having a communications strategy that effectively positions the corporate partnership program and communicates success stories;
  • Establishing the required processes and infrastructure to market and manage the program; and,
  • Educating staff (all levels) on the sponsorship process and how they can contribute to the goals of the program.

By taking an organized, strategic approach towards corporate revenue development, municipalities will find that they will be able to better leverage their assets, create sustainable revenue streams and be more positively received by potential partners.

I’ll be addressing some of the finer points related to this topic over the coming months. If you have a municipal success story or any specific topics or issues you’d like to discuss, I welcome your comments.

Later                                                                                                                                                      BC