Sponsorship collective logo

Sustainability in Sponsorship: The Rise of Eco-Friendly and Green Initiatives 

by | February 29, 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

We all wonder what we can do to preserve our earth for ourselves and future generations. While you might make a lot of commendable strides to reduce your carbon footprint in your personal life, what about professionally?

Of course, you know me. I’m talking about sponsorship. So, keeping that in mind, what can you do with your current and future sponsors to keep our planet spinning? That’s what I’ll explore ahead, so let’s get to it.

Can’t-Miss Tips Your Sponsorship Property Needs for Better Sustainability

Be Accountable

This is arguably the hardest part. No company wants to admit how many fossil fuels they burned or how many millions of gallons of gas consumed. It’s the ugly side of running a business. 

Before you can make an action plan to change, you have to acknowledge the whole truth. It might temporarily make your audience think less of you, but if you admit your faults in the context of striving for change, that puts your revelations in a different context. 

It’s no longer purely about how much you wasted, but what you plan to do to ensure you can cut back on emissions and pave a greener way forward. 

New call-to-action

Besides, revealing the raw numbers might inspire some of your internal team to create a sustainable sponsorship plan, especially if they had been kept in the dark. 

Make a Realistic Plan

Okay, so let’s chat about that sustainable sponsorship plan, shall we? This is arguably the most important part. 

You’ve admitted how much energy and finite resources you’ve used. Now, you need to go back and determine what processes have been the biggest culprits.

For example, if you have a private jet you use to meet potential sponsors (and I’m just using a lavish example here), you can surely cut down on the number of flights you take. 

I recommend an energy audit, which a professional energy advisor will perform. They can advise you on all the ways your company can cut back, especially in relation to your sponsorships. Maybe that means creating activations with renewable energy sources like solar energy instead of electricity. 

While you’ll want to change your energy-hogging ways overnight, that’s not doable for most companies. It can take months, sometimes years to make meaningful changes. 

Don’t publicize your action plan without that awareness. It might sound impressive to tell your audience and prospective sponsors that you’ll be carbon neutral within six months, but if it then takes you three times as long, you end up looking worse than if you had been honest to begin with. 

Rethink Your Sponsors

Now, this is a difficult one. Although most of us are onboard in doing our part for the earth, not everyone is on the same page. If your sponsors are gas guzzlers and see no problem with their ways, it’s time to reconsider if a continued partnership is wise.

You can’t say you want to be greener in one breath, then continue to partner with earth offenders in the next. You’ll come across as very two-faced and lose legitimacy in the eyes of your audience. You might also struggle to find new sponsors and business partners. 

Be steadfast in your beliefs. Although it can sometimes be hard to let sponsors go, especially the good ones or those who contribute a lot to your event or opportunity, if they’re not ready to help you meet your environmental goals, you should leave them in the rear view.

Trust that newer, greener sponsors will fill in the gaps who you can feel good about working with. 

Plan Through the Supply Chain

Of course, your decision to nip in the bud partnerships that go against your green goals doesn’t end with your sponsors. Vendors, suppliers, and other partners need just as much scrutiny to ensure they’re meeting green objectives. 

For example, you can source materials for your next event ethically. Going local is always good, as your goods aren’t transported as far and won’t contribute as much to greenhouse gas levels. 

Perhaps you use renewable materials to print promotional T-shirts and tote bags. 

These kinds of decisions must be made well in advance to execute them as intended in time for your event. You might consider a gradual rollout, especially if your event or opportunity happens more than once a year. 

That will reduce all the pressure to get everything right in a short amount of time. 

Embrace Hybrid Events

Another way to get on the green train is by hosting more hybrid or all-digital events. Going digital benefits your business in many ways from an environmentally friendly perspective. 

Fewer emissions are produced because people don’t need to drive to your event. You don’t have to produce physical goods in association with your event, or at least not as many as you would for a full in-person event. 

Seek Sustainable Venues

This is arguably the hardest part of the entire process. While sustainable venues are popping up left and right, they’re still too few and far between, if you ask me. 

Some examples include the Miches Playa Esmeralda Resort, Club Med, which has omitted single-use plastic cutlery and only uses locally sourced cacao and coffee. The building has solar panels, and its staff cleans the nearby beaches. 

Das Cataratas, Belmond is a hotel that now owns and preserves a national park. No private vehicles are allowed. The hotel has also spearheaded the Iguassu Jaguars initiative to save these big cats. 

So, what do you do if you can’t find a sustainable venue in your neck of the woods? You might consider branching out to adjoining states, which I recognize isn’t always possible. 

You could always consider a digital or hybrid event instead. Perhaps you work with the venue to discuss green measures you can take. There are plenty of workarounds! 

Have a Cleanup and Waste Plan 

Even if you reduce waste as much as possible for your sponsored event, program, or opportunity, you’ll still inevitably accumulate some. 

Well, not only you personally, but your vendors, sponsors, partners, and attendees. 

Having a waste management and removal plan is critical before your event begins. You should have recycling bins here, there, and everywhere. 

You might work with recycling facilities to ensure the waste gets reused and repurposed rather than tossed into a landfill. 

Use LED Lighting

Did you know that the average LED light bulb lasts for 50,000 to 100,000 hours? Yes, it’s a seriously long time! Compare that to incandescent bulbs, which only have a lifespan of 1,000 hours. 

LED lights outlast incandescent bulbs by at least 50x! 

You may not always get to choose the type of lighting your venue uses, but if it’s a sustainable building, it should prefer LED lights. You can always equip your booth or table with them, enjoying the bright glow and the feeling of treating our planet well. 

Choose Catering Carefully 

Sustainability trickles down to all industries, especially food harvesting and production. Locally sourced is always better, as are catering companies that favor natural, healthful, farm-to-table ingredients.

You may have to pay more for this type of quality, but it will go a long way toward showing your audience you’re dedicated to green endeavors. 

The dishes available should cater to all types of diets, from gluten-free to vegetarian and vegan. It’s usually easier to be accommodating with a more natural menu. 

Consider more than the meals themselves but also the utensils and dinnerware used to serve them. Biodegradable materials like paper straws are worlds better than plastic (which takes hundreds of years to break down in landfills), as are recycled materials. 

Make Donations to Green Causes a Contest Prize

Most contest or giveaway options I recommend for sponsorships involve the sponsor’s product or service as the prize or even a cash prize if you want to keep it simple. However, when making the move toward sustainable sponsorship, I suggest taking a different approach. 

Instead of a physical prize, why not allow the winner to choose from several charities your company cares deeply about? 

The first-place winner can pick the most amount of money to donate, followed by second-place and third-place winners. You might even have several runners-up. 

New call-to-action

Create a Food Donation Plan 

It’s better to have more food than less to feed your hungry guests, but it feels unfortunate when the event wraps and you still have so much that no one ate. Throwing it away is wasteful, so I suggest having a food donation plan in place for your event. 

Research shelters and food banks in your neighborhood and confirm they’re accepting donations. When the event ends, make a beeline to these places, delivering the food while it’s still warm. You will help those in need and avoid waste. It’s a win-win! 

Map Your Progress

You’ll recall that you can’t achieve your sponsorship sustainability goals in a day or a week, but you can toot your horn when you reach certain milestones. 

This will prove to your audience and sponsors that you’re serious about your green goals. 

Wrapping Up

Sustainability in sponsorship is a must. Of course, I wouldn’t go so far as to limit this to only sponsorship, but any and every industry. The earth needs our help, and the steps we take today can ensure the planet’s longer life tomorrow.