One of the tasks that often made me nervous, especially as a young sponsorship manager, was creting sponsorship Board reports. Those new to this task can often spend hours working over the best way to report because it is obviously a rare occasion to showcase your work to the most influential people within your organisation.
However, too many times I over-thought or misinterpreted the task by providing what I wanted to show. Instead, I should have provided what the Board wanted to see. That meant I didn’t end up actually putting my best foot forward and there was probably a few missed opportunities for myself.
As such, there are three rules I have learned throughout my career that need to be followed in creating sponsorship reports for the Board.
Only give them what they want to know
Boards are increasingly being filled by people who aren’t rusted-on supporters or former players. Positions are more and more being filled by skills based appointments and these people are there to make decisions and provide strategic input into the organisation to help it move and grow. As a result, the information they use to make these decisions can’t be filled with fluff and propaganda. Instead, it needs to be factual and to the point. Some of the areas you must share information about, to help the Board make informed decisions, are:
- Current results v forecast/budget;
- upcoming important events/happenings that the Board need to attend or know what to speak to/about; and
- any issues, losses or changes (both from a client and staff perspective) that will impact any forecasts or what the Board are there to decide on.
Remember what the Board is there for
It is vital to remember what the Board is there for. As discussed above, the Board is there to help drive the organisation forward, to set strategy for the benefit of the business and to use their expertise to provide input where required. As a result, you should give them all the ammunition required to help them to do their job. Sugar coating the information to ‘escape another meeting unscathed’ is not doing yourself or the organisation any favours and is often the foundation for bigger problems down the track. Be honest, provide suggested solutions to problems and outline consequences of operational actions in a way that allows the Board to act in a fully informed way. Two things inexperienced managers often try to stay away from, but should embrace are:
seeking input from the Board by asking questions through the information provided; and
seeking support from the Board and access their networks/expertise in order to generate better results for the sponsorship team.
Present the information suitable for your audience
This is another area that inexperienced staff often get caught in and that is getting lost in trying to display their expertise in such a way that they lose their audience by creating blockages in how the Board can easily digest or access the desired information.
You need to remember that the Board aren’t necessarily subject matter experts in the field of sponsorship and, as a result, may not be aware of or appreciate industry terminology or even pretty presentations filled with meaningless words and numbers. The Board ARE a series of intelligent and strategically minded people who can and will have the ability to see the forest for the trees and provide some really insightful feedback (if given the right information in an understandable format).
Remember that you know all this information back to front but be careful not assume too much and in turn create confusion or questions. If you find that the Board are coming back with lots of questions that you wouldn’t expect then then perhaps you need to review why they are happening. Your job is to generate helpful and strategic discussion and I have found the best way to do that comes is by:
using systems to create quick and easy reports which clearly show comparison and results;
insert commentary explaining what these results mean, why they are what they are, your own thoughts on the results (as the subject matter expert) and any questions/support needed from the Board to help move forward.
This all needs to be in context with what you are sharing and presented succinctly so that it gets the attention it deserves.
Summing it all up
Boards are not there to judge, make unfair decisions or call people out. Those are operational decisions led by the CEO/MD of the business. Boards are there to use their experience and minds to help keep the businesses progressing and to provide a strategic framework for the operational decisions made.
Those functions are organisation wide and can be quite busy at times. As a result, your information needs to be honest, succinct and actionable so that you can get the most out of your best strategic resource to help you succeed in your job.
That is when you will shine and set a good impression.
Mark Thompson // Managing Director
Mark specialises in sponsorship and diversified income strategies and has used this expertise across the Community, Semi-Professional and Professional Sports sectors. He combines hands-on experience in managing the expectations and obligations of sponsors with marketing and stakeholder engagement to deliver outstanding results.
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