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Sponsorship Case Study: FOCUS 

by | April 30, 2024

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  • 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

Today’s post is a case study in sponsorship that proves the value of good guidance in your sponsorship program. 

I’ll tell you all about Morgan, a client of mine at the Sponsorship Collective. When she began with us, she had around $350,000 in sponsorship revenue. I recognize that’s no small sum, but Morgan had her sights set on even greater fortune, which she achieved through my program. 

Within three years, she reached $2.1 million in sponsorship revenue. 

Yes, you read that right. Over $1 million, and in just a few years!

If you feel stuck in your sponsorship efforts, whether you’re a beginner or more experienced, I urge you to continue reading to learn about what Morgan did that skyrocketed her conference into the stratosphere. 

About Morgan 

Morgan runs a conference focused on college and university students in the United States. But here’s the kicker. Morgan’s organization is faith-based, and it’s a nonprofit. It’s called FOCUS, or the Fellowship of Catholic University Students. 

If that sounds like a sponsorship dealbreaker to the nth degree, it often can be, but Morgan has found ways to connect with high-value sponsors, especially after enrolling in the Sponsorship Accelerator, our flagship program at the Sponsorship Collective.  

Now, I’m sure you’re wondering, if she’s in such a specific niche, how can I replicate Morgan’s success? I promise you, what she achieved is doable no matter your niche and industry, even if you’re a for-profit or run a festival or motorsports team instead of a conference. 

Morgan’s Challenge

Some of my clients have sponsorship foisted upon them, even though they’re not particularly experienced and have other jobs. Morgan’s case is different, as her job within FOCUS is sponsorship. 

She told me in our video interview that FOCUS used to hold two conferences, one that was smaller, and another that was bigger. The most they had ever earned in sponsorship revenue was $800,000, which Morgan told me was FOCUS’s threshold. Instead, their average was $350,000. 

I told her that many faith-based nonprofits think they can’t do sponsorship at all, which she disagrees with (and is living proof that this assumption is incorrect!). However, despite knowing it’s possible, Morgan feels like FOCUS capped itself, giving itself too low of a glass ceiling in sponsorship revenue. 

She mentions that she was working with a brand-new team due to people leaving the job or switching roles within the organization, and one of the (rather smart, I must say) new folks recommended training with the Sponsorship Collective specifically. 

Morgan told me that before she started using our Valuation Calculator, she felt like she was “shooting from the hip” regarding pricing the services she’d offer sponsors. 

She said that her sponsors would be frustrated because they often ended up paying a lot of money but not getting their money’s worth, which was hurting her sponsorship relationships due to an erosion of trust. 

Morgan’s Experience in the Sponsorship Accelerator

One of the things Morgan was proudest of learning as a student of the Sponsorship Collective was how to properly value. She says now she can confidently tell a sponsor what an opportunity is worth, and they know she’s done her homework and isn’t pulling figures out of thin air. 

And, as I mentioned, within three years, she almost tripled her sponsorship revenue. While Morgan is thrilled about this, she admits it comes with its challenges, such as upping the ante for activations and assets.

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When I talked to her for our interview, she mentioned how she was considering branding the FOCUS train that goes from the airport to the convention center, which would be a first for the organization, as all their branding usually takes place in the convention center. 

However, she ultimately says that she and her team are having fun with creating new revenue opportunities and getting more people in the door, which is good, as ideating is one of the most fun parts of sponsorship, if you ask me.

Another testament to Morgan’s success is that last year’s conference had a waiting list, which had never happened before in its history. 

What impresses me the most is that Morgan has only accumulated sponsorship experience in this job with FOCUS; her resume otherwise has nothing else related to sponsorship. When we spoke, she humbly gave her team acclaim, which is fair, but she also deserves her props. 

The Biggest Takeaways from My Conversation with Morgan

It’s been a joy to work with Morgan and help her and FOCUS achieve more sponsorship goals. It was also a pleasure to sit down and talk with her about how FOCUS’s sponsorship success has broken the mold for what a faith-based nonprofit organization can do. 

Here are some key points to remember going forward with your own sponsorship plans and goals. 

Yes, There’s a Place for You in Sponsorship

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is assuming you can’t do sponsorship because you’re A, B, or C or X, Y, Z. Are there more challenges if you’re a nonprofit? Yes, usually. Is it harder to break into the market if you’re faith-based? Again, yes.

However, hard doesn’t mean impossible. You’ll need more grit and determination, and you might have to work that much harder, but achieving sponsorship is totally within your reach. 

Don’t limit your opportunities, and don’t give yourself a glass ceiling for sponsorship dollars like Morgan did. She’s achieved multimillion-dollar sponsorship with FOCUS, proving that anyone can do it if they’re willing to work for it. 

Gold, Silver, and Bronze Tiers Are Still Alive and Kicking (Although They Shouldn’t Be)

Morgan confessed to me that her team at FOCUS used gold, silver, and bronze sponsorship tiers prior to working with me and the rest of the Sponsorship Collective. After graduating from the Sponsorship Accelerator, she wasn’t disinclined to give up sponsorship tiers entirely.

She told me she still uses a hybrid model, where sponsors on a Partner Level get discovery calls and custom assets and activations.

This works for FOCUS and Morgan specifically, but if possible, I always advise you to jump straight to the custom assets and activations. If you can’t do that, a hybrid approach is the second-best thing. 

Logos on Everything Is Not the Best You Can Do

When you’re new to sponsorship, it’s the standard to slap logos on things here, there, and everywhere. I get why people do it. It seems like a good idea, because it will increase visibility, right?

Sure, but that’s about the only objective it achieves. Many sponsors want more than brand visibility, hence why logos are usually at the bottom of the pile when the time comes to value your assets and activations. 

Don’t be afraid to go bigger, like Morgan’s idea to brand the trains to and from the convention center. Sure, this is technically a logo, but it’s also something beyond the standard slapping of logos on convention walls. 

Growth Comes from Working as a Team 

Morgan may be the one in charge of the sponsorship division at FOCUS, but she credits her team’s collective talents and experience in creating the sponsorship division that the organization now enjoys. 

Heck, she wouldn’t have even enrolled in the Sponsorship Accelerator training had it not been for one of her new colleagues who recommended my course when Morgan asked how she could train to learn more about sponsorship. 

Shouldering the sponsorship load yourself is difficult. I recently wrote an article about how to get everyone in a team enthusiastic about sponsorship, even if they have no prior experience. 

The key is working through the various processes together, sharing your successes and failures as a unit and working as one to achieve outcomes and consistently improve. This is a skill that Morgan’s team at FOCUS excels at and has undoubtedly played a role in its success. 

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Wrapping Up 

And that’s about it! I had a wonderful conversation with Morgan, and it was so great to celebrate her successes with her. Even though FOCUS was doing pretty good for itself before she worked with the Sponsorship Collective, she found a way to take that success and build on it, achieving objectives her and her team never believed possible. 

It goes to show that sponsorship is achievable for any and every organization, company, nonprofit, whatever, whether you run an event, festival, motorsport organization, or conference like FOCUS.

I hope this case study inspired you to put the pedal to the metal and accelerate your sponsorship dreams. Of course, if you need extra assistance, I highly recommend you set up a call to discuss how we can help you make your sponsorship goals a reality.