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Retain Sponsor Revenue To Protect Your Bottom Line

Canceled and postponed events over the past four months have no doubt had an impact on your chamber’s bottom line. Realistically, it could be quite some time before that particular line of revenue bounces back. And, of course, it’s not just a loss of attendee revenue that is worrisome. What about those sponsor dollars? Are you going to lose that revenue too?

You don’t have to suffer a double whammy. If you handle it well, your sponsors will be happy and you’ll retain that precious revenue.

Preserving sponsor relationships should be a priority right now, with the aim to identify how you might be able to re-purpose their investments. To do that, you first need to identify why they sponsored in the first place. Generally speaking, chambers tend to have two types of sponsors: mission-based sponsors and transactional sponsors.


Mission-based sponsors are what we consider to be the gold standard of sponsors because they are invested in the work of your chamber. Mission-based sponsors want and need your chamber to continue to be a force that advocates on behalf of the business community. They also believe that your chamber is a key player in ensuring quality of place for your community today and well into the future.

In other words, they get it. They appreciate how important their financial support is to the continued success of your chamber. Because of that, these are easy calls to make.

Get in touch and thank your mission-based sponsors for the sponsorship commitment they made prior to COVID-19. Acknowledge that things have changed, and lead the conversation toward a discussion about ideas you have for re-purposing their investment to help support what you are doing now to lead your community’s reopening and business recovery efforts.

With mission-based sponsors you just need to put the idea out there. Most of your mission-based sponsors are fans of your chamber. Because of that, they are loyal, and most will act in the best interest of your organization. Many will revel in knowing that their investment will position your chamber to guide your community out from under the financial crisis we are all facing.


Transactional sponsors are different. They invest in an event to drive an outcome. Most often, it is to get their message in front of a specific audience. Transactional sponsors typically support events or programs because their involvement will provide a return on their investment. They have a need, and they hope that the sponsorship will address it for them.

If the event they sponsored is canceled, that makes it tougher to retain their sponsorship investment. But a canceled event doesn’t have to result in a refund. If visibility is what they were seeking with their sponsorship, getting their message in front of the right audience is likely more important than ever right now. To preserve their investment, you must find a way to get them what they hoped that event sponsorship would provide.

You may need to get creative. And more heads are better than one on this. We highly recommend that you get your entire team together to talk about, and identify alternative solutions for fulfilling sponsorship obligations. You may need to move some sponsors to another program that will meet the same or similar objectives. You may need to add sponsors to programs that were previously “full.”

What you don’t need to do is create more programs or services. Look for opportunities within your existing offerings.

Once you think you have a solution, communicate it to your sponsor. Make sure they understand how it matches their objectives. Ideally, you want to retain the sponsorship revenue for this year, so your chamber is better positioned to help businesses now, when they arguably need you the most.

We encourage you to try this and let us know how it goes. We’re easy to talk to, and we want to help. Feel free to reach out with questions you have about this technique or other membership sales issues.

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