I got thrown an unusual question by someone recently, “Government departments are not your standard corporate. How do I position my sponsorship opportunity when dealing with government to have the best shot at success?”. The question forced me to analyse the way I have always dealt with funding and sponsorships from government departments.
Surprisingly, when I thought about the question, I came up with some really small but significant tweaks to my normal corporate sponsorship positioning which I was never consciously aware of but which are critically important.
How are they similar?
Firstly, it’s important to understand that this is still a sponsorship proposition. Governments rarely give free handouts of cash and your thinking should be no different to that of dealing with any other potential partner.
Governments still have objectives they are trying to achieve, they still need to report & acquit their expenditure and they still have certain activities they like or can use better than others. Therefore, your process and steps taken to identify how you position your proposal are no different.
How do I ensure my proposal is on the right track?
The process here is exactly the same as when you are dealing with a corporate. Assuming you have already identified where the funding/investment will come from, there are still steps to be taken over and above simply throwing your hat in the ring. They are:
- Research – You need to identify what the outcomes are they are needing to achieve. You need to find out where money is already being spent so that there is a different market being offered up as an audience and you should be acutely aware of the types of organisations and activities they generally fund and why.
- Alignment – Just like with any corporate, there needs to be alignment with what you are able to offer as a rights holder and what the government is looking to achieve through promotion of their program/initiative. Your benefits should then help the government department with their internal acquittal of objectives.
- Reporting – You should be prepared to demonstrate that you can effectively report on outcomes. Throughout the application/proposal process you should also indicate what the outcomes are expected to be, how they will be achieved and how they will be reported back to your contact(s) to help with their internal acquittal.
What are the key differences in these proposals?
So far, everything mentioned above would put you in good stead for corporate or government approaches. The key difference, however, which will highlight that you will be a good partner for government, is how you position your proposal to align with their business processes.
Government funding is always linked to outcomes and objectives and the most successful government proposals I have ever put together, and continue to see today, have a very similar platform.
- Benefits Are Tied To Objectives – We talk about this a lot, however, it is vital for a government partnership. Once you identify what the objectives of the department/program, you should directly align these objectives to benefits you have identified will help them achieve them. I mean literally align them; spell it out to them Benefit Y will help achieve Objective X.
- Funding Is Tied To Delivery – The next step is to tie the funding element (payment of sponsorship fee) to the delivery of the benefits. For example, if one objective is for community engagement and it’s decided that eDM and Facebook content are the benefits, and they you will provide one of each per month, you should tie your funding to the execution of a certain number of these deliveries.
- Reporting – Succinct reporting in a manner which will help your government contact do their job is also important. Making their life easier will result in greater internal advocacy and this will mean that your reporting will be in a different format and at different intervals to your other sponsors. It is very important, however, that the expenditure can be easily tracked and acquitted against when dealing with government.
One final thing to remember
I can’t stress enough that it is vital to remember that government departments/programs are funded by other government departments and they need to show efficient expenditure of budget.
If you can help them align their expenditure with objectives, which have been set internally, your reporting and their acquittal is much easier and a long-term relationship is far more likely. Government relationships are much more systematic and process-driven and the process is just as important as relationships. So, working hard across both (rather than harder on the relationships from a corporate perspective) is also vital for success in this space.
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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