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Over the last decade, corporations large and small, local and national, have sponsored sports teams, charitable events, and other exposure-oriented activities.

In our current economic state of survival mode and cost-cutting it is crucial for camp administrators to find ways of saving money while still offering top-notch programming. Camp sponsorship can quite possibly be the solution to enhancing camp offerings in a time of cost cutting.

Sponsorship is the vehicle through which camps can receive money or material items in exchange for using the sponsor logo/name on brochures, shirts, and banners.

Corporations (sponsors), in exchange for sponsoring camps, can find a unique and creative way to reach and connect with their markets.

Sponsorships in the professional sports setting has been the mechanism utilized to break through the clutter of traditional ads in order to reach a specific target market. The benefits of sponsorship are mutually shared between the camp and the corporation (sponsor).

The Guide

The following guide to seeking sponsorship can provide camp administrators with the appropriate tools for finding the right company to get involved with their camp.

Start with a list of target companies: Administrators can start with local businesses (a florist or restaurant), then regional companies with larger budgets to even national chains and businesses, depending on the scope and nature of the camp. The list of potential sponsors should include the name of the corporation along with a contact name, address, and phone number.

Narrow the search to viable sponsors: From the list of local, regional, and national companies camp administrators can then begin to determine which companies have taken advantage of sponsorship opportunities in the past.

Determine what the companies have invested in, including the types of sponsorship dollars spent and for which causes.

For example, does XYZ Company only sponsor charitable events for $2,000 per year or does ABC Company spend $10,000 on recreational activities in the local community. Understanding the potential sponsor allows the camp administrator to eliminate companies and, on the other hand, heavily recruit companies for sponsorship dollars or material goods.

The importance of gathering information regarding past sponsorship funding cannot be understated. Camp administrators can use that valuable information to create a more attractive sponsorship proposal for their funding needs.

Sponsor benefits: In addition to the list of sponsors, camp administrators should also consider the benefits the company will receive for sponsoring your camp.

From the sponsor's perspective the benefits for sponsoring the camp must be clearly highlighted. Sponsors need to understand the exposure opportunities connected with the camp sponsorship.

Highlighted benefits could include the company logo in the camp brochure, which could reach 50,000 community members. Or, the company could be the title sponsor of the camp, like the ABC Company Arts & Crafts Camp.

Other benefits could include free camp tuition for five children of employees of the sponsor, or, as mentioned earlier, the company logo on banners and t-shirts.

In addition to the benefits, camp administrators can communicate to the potential sponsors the frequency (number of times) of using the company name and logo with advertising for the camp.

In addition, the sponsor should have a clear idea of the number of people who will be reached or come into contact with the company name and logo through the advertising efforts.

Camp Needs & Potential Benefits

In conjunction with outlining sponsor benefits, camp administrators must determine what the camp would receive in return for the sponsorship.

Camp administrators should explore the following questions:

• Does the camp receive money in return for the sponsorship?

• What will the sponsorship dollars be used for?

• When would the funds be needed? Create a timeline so the expectations to the company are clear.

• What types of material goods are needed? For example, shirts, computers, sports equipment, ice cream and other items. Do these companies produce these products or would their logo be appropriate to use on these goods? Be specific of your needs so that your requests to the businesses are clear and fairly easy to meet.

It is important to note that sponsorship can come in the form of dollars or through material goods like supplies, food, shirts depending on the business of the sponsor.

Closing the Deal

Once you have outlined the benefits for the camp and the sponsor, along with the needs of the camp, it is important to create a sponsorship proposal.

Camp administrators can start with a letter or even a phone call to determine if a sponsorship proposal would even be considered. The proposal should be clear and concise, outlining the philosophy of the camp, the nature of the sponsorship opportunities, the benefits, and a timeline regarding the receipt of the funds and/or receipt of the material items.

It is essential to put your request in writing. A formal document conveys a professional opportunity and may place more weight on your request.

Find a way to follow up through a formal dialogue in order to present your request and make a connection with the company. Once an agreement is made, camp administrators should send a contract to the sponsor, including the specific terms of the sponsorship.

Many camp administrators may overlook the simplest gestures -- following up with the sponsor at the conclusion of the camp. The sponsor would surely appreciate receiving a report back from the camp detailing the use of the funds/products and the benefits gained.

The inclusion of testimonials from campers who were the recipients of the goodwill from the sponsors adds a nice touch to the sponsorship arrangement. In addition, follow-up at the end of the camp can lead to closing the deal for the following year.

Camp sponsorship can be an effective tool for camp administrators. The benefits for the companies being exposed to community members through camp sponsorships are far reaching. Companies want to be associated with positive youth experiences and the camp setting is a perfect match.

Dr. Dina Gentile is associate professor of sports management and head soccer coach at Endicott College, Beverly, Mass.

Bryan BuchkoComment