I was browsing the web site for T.D. Jakes’ 2006 MegaFest Conference and noticed something quite interesting: Coca-Cola, Pine-Sol and Clorox have signed on as sponsors of the larger than life event.
On the heels of the blockbuster success of Christian-based projects such as The Passion of The Christ, The Chronicles of Narnia and Joel Osteen’s New York Times bestseller Your Best Life Now, is corporate America finally starting to recognize the importance of targeting Christian consumers on an ongoing basis? Are corporate bigwigs grasping the fact that just like regular folks, Christians eat, sleep, go to the movies, clean our homes, purchase cars and engage in other normal activities on a daily basis?
As corporate interest in Christian consumers intensifies, recruiting a corporation to support your next ministry event could result in a win-win opportunity for your ministry and your sponsorship partner. Sponsorships are a great way to offset the costs associated with producing your event, while also providing businesses an opportunity to promote its products/services to an engaged audience.
Sponsorship can also be a way to cloud your message, encourage consumerism or at the very least allow your church to be labeled a sellout, whether or not the description is fair.
Here are a few points to keep in mind when planning your sponsorship activities:
Does Sponsorship Work For Our Church?
This is the big question, and obviously, the first question. Some people are already sneering at the thought of church sponsorship. If this attitude is prevalent in your church, any kind of sponsorship probably isn’t going to go over too well. Different people have different takes on this, and that’s OK. But you need to know where your church stands.
Where is Sponsorship Appropriate?
The next big question is when is sponsorship appropriate? We’re not suggesting a NASCAR makeover with sponsors on the front of the pulpit, patches on your ushers’ suits and a sermon punctuated with thanks to a number of corporations. Sponsorship works best and is most appropriate for special events, like T.D. Jakes’ MegaFest, where significant costs make some sort of outside funding necessary and it’s distanced enough from your core worship service that it won’t co-opt your message. Consider when people would be offended by a corporate sponsor and when it would be accepted.
Remember Who You’re Representing
It’s safe to say that approaching an alcoholic beverage company or a cigarette manufacturer to sponsor your next ministry event is probably not a bright idea. When narrowing your sponsorship targets, conduct a thorough background search on the company’s product/service offerings, its business philosophy and recent community involvement. Remember, the primary goal of your event is to glorify God. Selecting the wrong sponsor could hinder this goal, and damage the reputation of your ministry.
Draft a sponsorship package
Drafting a sponsorship package that clearly outlines the specifics of your event and its associated sponsorship opportunities is a critical part of the sponsorship process. Your sponsorship package should include:
- Sponsorship Prices
A number of variables contribute to setting sponsorship prices. You can set your sponsorship prices by price/level (i.e. gold, silver, platinum); need (i.e. food sponsor, beverage sponsor); session (i.e. keynote sponsor, concert sponsor, etc.) or other criteria. When drafting your proposal, take into account the costs and needs of your event, and set your prices accordingly.
- Event/Attendee Description
You are more likely to secure a quality sponsor if the purpose of your event, and its target attendees, aligns with your sponsor’s brand identity. Clearly outline the purpose of your event. For example, a dating service might be an ideal sponsor for a singles’ event. If your event focus is on a health-related topic like diabetes or cancer prevention, your area pharmacy or doctor’s office may be interested in partnering with you.
While reaching attendees at your event is a top priority for corporations, as sponsor, businesses also desire visibility before, during and after the event. Be clear about what kind of visibility sponsoring your event would offer. Signage throughout the event location (usually posted in high visibility areas), logo placement on marketing materials, web banner ads, opportunities to distribute promotional items and a press release announcing the sponsor’s participation in the event are also all standard ways to give sponsors visibility. Though it’s good to use your sponsorship package as a guide, always be willing to come up with something creative.
Short-term Business Partner
Be sure to keep your sponsor in the loop about changes to your event. A sponsor is essentially a short-term business partner. They have a vested interest in the success of your event, and need to be informed about any major changes.
These are just a few tips to keep in mind when selecting a sponsor for your next ministry event. As interest in Christian consumers continues to gain momentum, don’t be afraid to approach a local or national corporation about sponsoring your upcoming event, assuming it fits with your church and your event. The MegaFest conference shows that if you’re offering a worthwhile event and a solid attendee base, a quality sponsor will be sure to follow.