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From Rejuvenate Magazine Association Sponsorships Up in 2009

Rejuvenate, April 06, 2010

By Libby Hoppe

In the current economic climate, sponsorship money is hard to come by, and the numbers prove it. Last year, money spent on sponsorships fell 1 percent, according to the IEG Sponsorship Report. It marked the first time sponsorship spending declined in the 25 years since IEG, a sponsorship-consulting firm, started tracking it.

It’s not all bad news, though. Money spent on sponsorships for associations actually rose in 2009 by about 3 percent. IEG tracks sponsorship in six sectors: sports, arts, entertainment, festivals, causes and associations. Last year, associations performed the best. But Diane Knoepke, vice president of IEG sponsorship consulting, says that while association sponsorship rose overall, there was a lot of variation within the sector.

“It was a real year of contrasts for associations,” says Knoepke. “Some industries did well and some industries didn’t.” IEG doesn’t break down the numbers for specific industries within associations such as faith-based, medical or other groups, but the report did reveal some insight into what practices contributed to sponsorship growth. “Organizations that have year-round, more holistic approaches to sponsorships are where we saw more growth,” says Knoepke.

Traditionally, sponsorships have been endemic, meaning a plumbing organization attracts plumbing sponsors and an education organization attracts school sponsors. But in 2009, the organizations that performed best tended to attract non-endemic sponsors like telecom companies or mailing and shipping companies. “They’re being able to draw a wider net by really looking at the members more holistically to see what they need in their professional lives and their personal lives,” Knoepke says.

For faith-based groups, that could mean any number of different companies, like health clubs and travel destinations. IEG predicts that 2010 will continue to be a good year for the associations sector as well as the causes sector, which includes nonprofit organizations, some of which are faith-based groups. “Association meetings are newer than sports and entertainment, and sponsors are slowly figuring out that association marketing is a good idea,” Knoepke says. IEG expects 3.4 percent growth overall this year, but Knoepke warns that like every year, success is dependent on the ROI for investors. “It is a good time to be selling association sponsorships, but like anything, it’s a constantly moving target and they’ve got to keep working hard to deliver on sponsors’ needs.”