Sponsorship collective logo

Sponsorship Activation, Fulfillment and Renewal

by | March 22, 2024

Why you can trust Sponsorship Collective

  • The Sponsorship Collective has worked with over 1000 clients from every property type all over North America and Europe, working with properties at the $50,000 level to multi-million dollar campaigns, events and multi-year naming rights deals
  • We have published over 300 YouTube videos, written over 500,000 words on the topic and published dozens of research reports covering every topic in the world of sponsorship
  • All of our coaches and consultants have real world experience in sponsorship sales

How nice would it be to open your next fiscal year with 80% of your sponsorship dollars already confirmed? And to have your sponsors help you write next year’s sponsorship package? When done properly, activation, fulfillment and renewal will make you stand out above all others in the sponsorship space and will also help you close more revenue for your next fiscal period.

Sponsorship Activation

Sponsorship activation is, at its most basic, making sure that your sponsors take advantage of every asset they paid for in your custom sponsorship package. Imagine how frustrated you would be if you paid for upgrades in a new car only to find that they aren’t there when you got the car. The same applies to sponsorship, but it’s more complicated than just allowing your sponsors the opportunity. You have to activate it (hence the term).

What does this mean? Well, if you allow your sponsor to speak at an event, put their logo on your website and have a table at your gala then you want to make sure they take advantage of these opportunities. If you are offering your sponsor ad space, free product placement and a booth at a conference, then it’s up to you to make sure they meet the deadlines for each item.

This is incredibly important from a customer service perspective but also because you are going to hold yourself accountable to your sponsors by giving them a sponsorship fulfillment report once the campaign ends.

Examples of Sponsorship Activations

If you check the blog, I’ve dedicated tens of thousands of words to sponsorship activation examples across all industries and events, from fashion shows to sports events, festivals, and tech conferences.

While the types of activations appropriate for each event, opportunity, and program vary, here is a rundown of common ones.

Naming Rights

A staple activation in sports sponsorship, naming rights can be multi-million-dollar deals. You will often see sports sponsors with races, events, arenas, tournaments, and championships named in their honor.

So, what are naming rights? Well, they’re temporary (occasionally permanent) monikers bestowed upon a sponsor for their involvement in your program, event, or opportunity. The quickest example that comes to mind is NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600, a race named for everyone’s favorite sports sponsor, Coke.

Please don’t think that naming rights only apply if yours is a sports property. That’s far from the case. For example, let’s say your sponsorship opportunity is a festival. You can name a stage after a sponsor.

New call-to-action

Social Media Posts

Although not the biggest-ticket activation, social media posts can slot in nicely for some types of sponsorship opportunities. Podcast sponsorship is a good example. You could offer a slew of social posts as part of your promotional efforts for the sponsor.

Sports sponsorship can also sometimes benefit from social media posts as an activation. For example, if a major sports star posts about a product or service, that’s going to do wonders for your brand.

Contests, Giveaways, and Doorbusters

As I always say on the blog, people love free stuff, so any opportunity to give it to them should go over well. Branded giveaways and doorbusters with the sponsor’s products inside will introduce your audience to the sponsor’s brand.

Contests are another excellent activation idea, especially when offering the sponsor’s products or services as the prize. If you’re hosting a live event, you can announce the winner of the contest during the event, opening participation in the weeks prior.

The thing about successful contests is they should be easy to enter. Here’s an easy way to drive more of your audience to your sponsor’s social media or website: require they follow the sponsor or join their email list to enter the contest.

Once they try the sponsor’s products or services at your event, they’ll want to remain on the email list, where they’ll be receptive to more offers.

VIP Areas

RFID technology is becoming increasingly standard at events, explaining why VIP areas have risen to prominence. American Express does this a lot when appearing at festivals and events. They often host exclusive areas for cardholders where they can be first in line, see a performance from a premium vantage point, and enjoy chef-cooked meals and exclusive merch.

The appeal here is that everyone wants to feel special. A brand that can provide that kind of experience is going to stick in a consumer’s mind.

You don’t exclusively have to rely on RFID for VIP areas, of course, but it’s good technology for limiting participation.

AR and VR

Continuing with the high-tech activations, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are great ideas to consider if you have the budget. These kinds of activations can transform people to otherworldly places or faraway locales.

You could use AR and VR to air movie trailers complete with effects like blowing wind and faux falling snow.

There are so many ways to do it, and I think we’ve only just scratched the surface of what’s possible with this technology.

Photo Walls

This is another activation that isn’t the most high-value but might still be on your list when you value your sponsorship property. And that’s okay!

A photo wall is a testament to people’s need to document their experiences on their phones. By providing a sponsored spot for doing that, you spread brand awareness, especially if the photo wall has a branded hashtag that people use when posting photos.

To make a photo wall more useful, you could always combine it with another popular activation, the phone-charging station.

Pop-Up Shops

Gaining more sales quickly is achievable with pop-up shops stocked with limited-edition merch. People always clamber to get something that will disappear after an event, as it triggers their sense of FOMO (fear of missing out).

That’s why pop-up shops remain a tried-and-true activation.


Who doesn’t love to play a game to pass the time before the big event? And no, before you think this is only for sports sponsorship, it isn’t. Games are fun at conferences, festivals, fashion shows, and every type of event in between.

You can hand out participation prizes for playing a game or getting the high score. At the very least, your guests should have fun, even if they don’t win, which creates positive associations with the sponsor’s brand.


I recommend interviews as an activation more for podcast sponsorship, but conferences and expos could also explore this idea. A sit-down interview where you ask sponsor questions about their history, their aspirations, and their accomplishments could turn on your guests or listeners to their brand.

I Fulfilled My Sponsorship Obligations…Now What?

Nice work on achieving the objectives you promised to the sponsor. Although technically, your obligations are now over, I don’t recommend ending things then and there. Instead, it’s time for…

New call-to-action

The Sponsorship Fulfillment Report

The best way to make sure you fully activate your sponsors is by creating an activation strategy. Use your sponsorship package as a guide and outline key dates, deadlines and who from your team is accountable for each piece. This sets you up nicely for your fulfillment report.

What is a fulfillment report? It’s a formal report that proves to your sponsors that you did everything you said you would. It’s also an excuse for one more meeting. More on that later.

To build a fulfillment report I make a simple chart out of all of the benefits I promised my sponsors and then tell my sponsor whether or not I delivered on my promise for each item. I include stats on event attendees or how many people used the program in question as well as social media data, web traffic – everything that proves return on investment and that my team and I went above and beyond.

I also include photos of: assets, logo placement, screen shots of the website, signage, program ads, booths, product placement, speaking opportunities and action shots of sponsors interacting with my board and event attendees. Basically, if I can prove it with a photo or physical representation, I do. I then put it all together into a portfolio, or digital product, and get in touch with my sponsors to let them know I have their fulfillment report. I use it to invite them to a follow up meeting, in person or by phone, to hear their impressions of the event or campaign and I give them the fulfillment report to review before the meeting.

Be prepared! You will probably hear things like “I’ve never seen one of these before” or “nobody else does this” or something like that from the majority of your sponsors. This is the royal treatment and what you should be doing for every single sponsor. It also gives your sponsors something to circulate internally to justify their sponsorship investment, making it easier for them to justify the investment again next year.

The Power of the Followup Sponsorship Meeting

By the time you have sold, activated, delivered and fulfilled a sponsorship package you REALLY know your sponsors. You know them well enough to ask them for honest feedback and to actually get it. This is why the follow up meeting is so important. If your sponsors are willing to tell you what they liked, what they hated and what they would like more of that they hadn’t thought of earlier in the planning cycle, it must mean they really care about their investment. Meet with them, gather even more intel about what’s important to them and use that to make an even better proposal for them for the following year. There is no better way to increase your retention rate and move sponsors up the ladder than to deliver a fulfillment report and have a follow up meeting.

Not sure where to start? Here are some questions you can ask in the follow up sponsorship meeting:

  • What did you think of the fulfillment report?
  • How did the event or campaign go in your opinion?
  • Did you see the reaction you hoped for from your target demographic? How do you think we can improve that next year?
  • We would love to have you back again next year, what can I change or improve to make this a must do campaign or event again next year?

Try these questions and this approach and I promise that you will be pleasantly surprised.

More Tips for Sponsorship Renewal

The initial meeting where you talk over the fulfillment report is the first step toward renegotiating a deal. Here are some more pointers to guide you through this important time.

Have a Discovery-Like Meeting

If you’re a business, think about your own needs. If you’re an organization, then think about the businesses you’ve worked with. Their needs don’t remain static, right? Of course not!

That’s why you need another meeting with the sponsor where you talk exclusively about their business needs and what might look different this year compared to last year.

Craft New Custom Assets and Activations

Since your sponsor won’t have identical needs to your first working arrangement, that means the same assets and activations you’ve relied on in the past also can’t be expected to get the job done

Treat this sponsorship opportunity like you would any brand-new one, creating assets, activations, and services tailored to the sponsor’s needs.

You don’t always have to throw away your old assets and activations entirely. You can use them as new jumping-off points, retool them, or upgrade them.

The key is to offer something different that’s always tailored to what your sponsor needs.

Value Your New Sponsorship Opportunity

Your last sponsorship opportunity was valued at $35,000. That’s great, but please don’t assume the new one will share the same value. Since you’re expanding your offerings to the sponsor as part of a longer-term deal, the opportunity should be even more valuable than the first one.

The only way to find out is to value your opportunity.

Gather New Audience Data

Unless your last sponsorship opportunity happened a month ago, it doesn’t hurt to obtain new audience data before you begin sponsorship renewal with your current partner. You should take new data at least every six months, as people’s lives and circumstances change all the time.

Will you have many radical shifts? Probably not, but even a few outliers can be enough to alter your niched segments. Your sponsor will want to know how your audience data has changed, as it’s going to affect how receptive your attendees, donors, or customers are to the sponsor.

New call-to-action


When Should You Begin Sponsorship Renewal?

Ideally as soon as possible after your event, program, or opportunity. Waiting too long runs the risk of your sponsor filling their schedule with other engagements, so don’t delay!

Do I Need a Fulfillment Report When Proposing Sponsorship Renewal?

Not necessarily, but it’s helpful. You can remind the sponsor who your audience is (and in the process, why they’re so valuable) and how successful the event was to improve their willingness to work together longer-term.

Wrapping Up

Before you think about renewing a deal with a sponsor, you must craft high-value, customized assets and activations catered toward a sponsor’s needs. You’ll learn about those during the discovery session.

Ultimately, the sponsorship process is there for a reason. Following the steps in order will ensure you produce a high-quality sponsorship property that should make sponsors eager to work together again!