About the Author

Who is Robyn
Robyn Braley is committed to helping Rotarians grow their clubs to become better equipped to help people who need help. He has led two club teams that were awarded RI PR Awards and served as the District 5360 PR Chair. He has been a Rotarian since 1999.

Rotary Speaker
Robyn draws from his experience as a Rotarian and as a Communications Professional to share ways to more effectively tell the Rotary story to your community. He starts by asking the questions, "Is your club ready to grow, and why does it matter?" The ultimate focus is on attracting new members.

He is available to speak at District Conferences and Rotary leadership training institutes. Content also applies to other not-for-profit organizations.

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Please use any posts for Rotary District or club Newsletters. Include the profile at the bottom of each article, Robyn's headshot and a link to this blogsite. Let him know and he'll promote it to his social media followers.

Contact him at robyn@unimarkcreative.com

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Creating a Sponsorship Recognition Package Can Work Both Ways (Part 2)


Rotary Park overlooks this dynamic city scape
in Calgary, Alberta


 Written by Robyn T. Braley


Creating a recognition strategy for sponsorship may require creativity and imagination. Or, it can be simple and straightforward. 

Each sponsorship is unique because each sponsor has different reasons for becoming a sponsor. In Part I, Unleash the Power of Sponsorship for Your Service Club, I gave examples of the varied motives that drove different organizations to use sponsorship to achieve public relations, advertising philanthropic or other goals.


Sponsorship can be used by Rotary Clubs in two different ways. First, your club may be the major funder of a project or event. You may be the title, or name sponsor, or a cosponsor. 

Or, your club may be developing a project or event that needs funding partners to help make it possible. You will need to provide recognition options to acknowledge their participation. 

Why Sponsors Sponsor 

My friend and colleague, Brent Barootes, is a sponsorship specialist. He makes the point that there is no one way to build a sponsorship acknowledgement and recognition program. He can list 30+ reasons why sponsors sponsor.

Brent narrows them down to 4 primary reasons that make sponsorship a viable option.
  1. Sponsorship engages people
  2. Sponsorship allows you to target an audience segment
  3. Enhance audience experiences to build brand affinity and customer loyalty
  4. Drive customers to your brand 
Pretty much anything can be sponsored. In Rotary, sponsorship can help make possible fund-raising events like banquets, marathons or conferences. Sponsors might fund the expenses, donate services or make a donation large enough to be named the Title Sponsor. 
  • Raise cash
  • Secure products or services through barter
An organization that I support holds a fund-raising banquet every fall that is attended by about 700 people. A sponsor underwrites the cost of each meal.

Because of the sponsor’s annual generosity, people are generous with their gifts. Everything raised through the event goes directly to the cause the people are there to support. They also ‘feel good’ about the sponsor.
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Know the Risks

I don’t want to assume sponsorship partners will ask important questions before doing a deal. Before entering a sponsorship relationship, know the risks. In public relations terms, if things go sideways, the sponsorship could cost far more than the agreed upon dollar value.

In effect, you are positioning your organization with theirs. You are making the statement that your organization supports theirs.
  1. Do both organizations adhere to similar values and principles?
  2. Are there any questions about reparations?
  3. What could go wrong?

Leveraging Sponsorship Relationship

Each February my Rotary club bakes, assembles and delivers strawberry shortcakes. Businesses or individuals buy and have them delivered to their clients or employees. That makes the project a win-win-win proposition.

One year we sold 7,300 cakes at $5.00 each and raised $36,500 dollars. We developed a sponsorship program that raised or saved cash through the provision of services.
  • Stampede Messenger – Gave a full day of access to their routing system for Rotarians to schedule deliveries on distribution day
  • TigerTel – A telephone messaging provider took phone orders and payments.
  • Unimark Creative – Designed a logo, a dedicated website, provided media services and graphic design
  • Valentine Volvo – Paid for a sponsorship for obvious Valentine’s Day positioning reasons
In exchange, sponsors received a sponsor acknowledgement along with their logo on the event website, in media releases, verbal announcements at area Rotary clubs, and promotional flyers.

We left a Rotary “Thankyou” tent card that included sponsor acknowledgments at the locations of all shortcake recipients.   

Then we stepped it up a notch. Remember the rule that if you feel good about a thing that happens in the community you will feel good about the people who help make that good thing happen?

We paid for the printing of customized flyers that had only one sponsor acknowledged. Each sponsor sent the flyers to their customers with their monthly billings.

A combined total of approximately 10,000 flyers were sent out providing additional advertising for us while letting their customers know they were doing a good thing for the community.

Title or Naming Sponsor

Rotary Clubs can also use the sponsorship theory in reverse. When clubs fund a park, a health facility, and arts or any other event, including the name Rotary among other sponsors or as the title sponsor can bring lasting recognition.

Further, drawing attention to the sponsorship using other methods builds the community profile and increases the exposure within targeted audiences.   

In Calgary, Alberta, city and area Rotary Clubs contributed significant funds to the development of Rotary Challenger Park. The park is an inclusive barrier free park for people of all abilities to enjoy sports fields, meeting rooms, basketball and tennis courts. It was created specifically as a recreation park for people with disabilities. 

When sporting or community events are held at the park, Rotary receives publicity every time the location is mentioned. Clubs continue to provide funding for various development projects at this highly successful event centre.

The Rotary Mattamy Greenway links parks, natural areas, greenspaces, river valleys and citizens. It is a 138km urban pathway system that encircles the entire City of Calgary. It passes through 55 communities and connects with 1,0000 kms of existing pathways.  

The pathways can be used to commute to work or for free recreation activities all year round.

Our city’s oldest club, the Calgary Downtown Rotary Club, funded a park in the 1930’s which was named Rotary Park to acknowledge the club’s role in building the park. It includes walking paths, an off-leash area for dogs, an accessible playground and spray park.

Rotary Park is located on the top of a hill directly overlooking the dramatic architecture of our downtown cityscape. On clear days, you can see the Rocky Mountains off to the west.

If you were a child in the 1930’s and visited the park once a year, you would have witnessed the growth the heart of the city from a small city of about 85,000 to become the third largest city in Canada with a population around 1,300,000 today.

With each yearly visit, you would have been reminded of the role Rotary played in making the quiet park offering such spectacular views possible.

Health Related Sponsorship

The Rotary Flames House is a community-based hospice located on the grounds of the Alberta Children’s Hospital. It provides care for children from birth to 18 years who have a serious illness and may not live to adulthood. Major funding was provided by area Rotary clubs and the Calgary Flames, our National Hockey League team.

Calgary and area Rotary Clubs have also funded unique programs for seniors. The Rotary-Bethany Partnership has worked together to build an indoor garden especially designed for people living with Alzheimer’s disease.

Architectural rendering of  the Rotary Bethany Atrium
Called the Atrium, the gardens will be a one-of-a-kind environment. Bethany Care is an industry-leader in providing dementia care.

The Rotary-BethanyAtrium is part of a state-of-the art living centre that can accommodate about 200 residents. The Rotary principles of service and friendship are incorporated into an environment where neighbours, friends, and community leaders come together to create a caring community.

Finally, Kerby Rotary Shelter is the first purpose-built shelter in North America for older adults facing elder abuse. Elder abuse is often not talked about. The shelter provides a safe place for seniors experiencing physical, emotional and other forms of abuse.

10 Ways to Acknowledge a Sponsorship    

There is no simple way to package sponsorship acknowledgements. A package might include a 'full meal deal' of thankyou's in different forms.

On the other side, there may be little public recognition involved. A sponsor may only want a tax receipt, a letter of thanks, a plaque on a donations wall, and perhaps lunch with the influential Chair of the not-for-profit organization.


1.            Full or partial naming rights
2.            Signage - traditional, digital, laser, onsite, offsite displayed around the town, event
3.            Social media, website and other online mentions
4.            TV, radio or newspaper ads that 'thank' the sponsor
5.            Permission to mention the sponsorship in company advertising and other avenues
6.            Public relations events like media stories, free product distribution, brochures, personal appearances
7.            Exclusive access to influential leaders, customers, politicians, celebrities
8.            Fashion-wear featuring sponsor logos worn by event staff or given away to those attending
9.            Exclusive merchandising rights like product sampling, displays or coupons
10.         Cross promotional opportunities

The End

What do you think? Do you have stories about sponsorship? Do you have tips? Did you start a conversation with someone who became a Rotarian? Your insights are welcome. Please comment below. 


Robyn Braley is a brand specialist, professional speaker and writer. He is also a Rotarian who is passionate about Building the Rotary Brand. He has led two teams that received the Rotary International PR Award. He has also served as the PR Chair for District 5360. He often speaks at Rotary clubs, conferences and leadership development assemblies. He currently serves on the District 5360 Membership Committee.

Contact Robyn

Email: robyn@robyntbraley.com   Connect on LinkedIn Follow on Twitter: @rtbraley_rotary 

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