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From Nick Burch <n...@apache.org>
Subject Re: Sponsorship styles for small events
Date Tue, 14 Feb 2012 10:51:23 GMT
On 14/02/12 01:19, Tim Williams wrote:
> There are generally two approaches to managing sponsorships for a
> small event.  Either we ask sponsors to just pay for stuff directly or
> we ask them to contribute to a pool of money with equal 'thanks' in
> which the organizer's manage.  We're planning for a BarCamp in
> Washington D.C. and would be happy if someone could describe the
> goods/bads and what's worked best from their perspective.

The downside of cash donations is that you have to have someone take in 
the cash, look after it, deal with sponsors who are late paying, keep 
track of spending and received money, probably float the event a grand 
or two until all sponsorship money is in, deal with tax implications 
etc. For a small event, this may not be that much effort, for a medium 
event it can be.

The downside of targetted donations is that some things are more 
"exciting" to sponsor than other things, and the more exciting things 
are often nice-to-haves rather than musts. Everyone wants to be the one 
sponsoring the beer. Almost no-one wants to pay for the stationary, the 
admin bits etc.

The advantage of cash is that you set out levels, eg we need $XXX to run 
the event, then the next $500 goes on lunch, next $250 on tshirts, 
finally beer, nicer lunch after that etc. As organisers, you set out 
your needs, based on your knowledge and your event, and spend incoming 
sponsorship as appropriate. It also fits better if Apache (via ConCom) 
is part funding or underwriting. You typically credit sponsors as part 
of the whole event, such as on the website and a thankyou at the start 
and end of the event.

The advantage of sponsoring things is your life is easy. Set out the 
list of things to be paid, and hook up the sponsor with the supplier. 
Payments etc are not your problem. You probably need to list sponsors 
against what they paid, eg AcmeWidgets logos by the lunch, FooCorp 
banner above the bar, which depending on the relative costs and the 
companies involved may or may not work well. If you do this, I suggest 
requiring that people sponsoring "cool" things also have to chip in 
towards the dull bits, so important-to-the-event parts get covered too. 
If Apache is underwriting / contributing, this is a little trickier, as 
ideally we want to just wire one payment to one place, rather than $50 
to a sandwich shop and $40 to the stationers and $11.23 to the corner 
shop etc! (This can be solved by one person agreeing to pay a few small 
bits, and send in a single bill)

I have run events under both models, and which one works will depend on 
your setup. For something simple, having one company provide venue and 
lunch, and a 2nd provide beer + admin makes your life easy. You have two 
people to thank, they sponsor similar amounts and get similar credit, 
your life is easy and people are happy.

It does need you to sign up sponsors early / in advance though, as you 
need to get the venue sponsor before the beer sponsor.

For events with lots of small sponsors, cash can be easier. Trying to 
get three local companies to each part pay the venue bill may well be a 
similar effort to trying to get members@ to pick a bike shed colour... 
With lots of small sponsors, crediting all of them in one go (on a 
tshirt, on the website, reading out a list at the start/end) is much 
simpler than trying to put two logos on lunch, three on the venue etc. 
It gives you more flexibility on what to spend it on, such as when you 
add a $200 sponsor you upgrade the lunch, the next goes on beer, then 
the next on the tshirt, then it's breakfast etc. That flexibility is 
with you. You will likely need a local company (really one who's 
providing volunteers too) to do the finance, and they need to be aware 
that they may be left with the bill for 3 months when one sponsor is 
very slow at paying up. Speaking of volunteers though, it does make it 
easier to credit $50 + 3 people helping on company time equally with 
paying the bar tab - the former being key to making it happen, the 
latter easier for a big company than a small.

Does that small essay help? Sadly there's not a magic bullet, it depends 
on the kinds of costs, the size of the event, and the likely kinds of 


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