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  • How to Jump-start Your Sponsorship Strategy in Tough Times
    How to Jump-start Your Sponsorship Strategy in Tough Times
    by Gail S. Bower
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Why Board Members Aren't On Board With Your Corporate Sponsorship Efforts

Time for true confessions: have you ever secretly or publicly expressed frustration that board members aren’t assisting your sponsorship development efforts?
If yours is like most organizations, the answer to that question is a resounding YES! (That would be a “yes” shouted.)
(If you’re like many individuals who serve on nonprofit boards of directors, you’ve probably experienced your own frustrations or felt mild pressure to support an organization you cared about, but you found yourself unable to take action.)
Chances are there are good reasons for these related experiences, and until you uncover the answers and resolve them, nothing will change. Sure you can throw logic at them — board members should help you. Board members are indeed the fiduciaries and therefore have a role in resource development, including sponsorship if that source is part of your revenue mix.
You can also scream and shout and get frustrated and give the board impassioned lectures. But that probably won’t help either.

Uncovering the blocks

Instead, you need to identify what’s blocking board members and address what each needs. To help you in that task, here are seven reasons I’ve identified.


Simply, they don't know what you need them to do. Do you have clear roles for board members in your sponsorship selling process? Are you clear about what assistance you need and what’s realistic for board members to take on?


They don't fully understand what corporate sponsorship is all about. Board members in totally different realms or industries will find participation very difficult. Even those in sales or marketing areas may know more about sponsorship but have no real idea how to lead or participate in such an effort.

Selling Connotations

They associate selling with something beneath them or have convinced themselves that they don’t know how to sell or ask anybody for money.

Culture Code

Perhaps your organization’s culture, including beliefs held by the board, is one that doesn’t fully embrace corporate sponsorship. Therefore, the group may agree that sponsorship dollars are necessary. Deep down, however, they’re thinking they will not be the ones to make it happen.


Related to their knowledge about sponsorship and the connotations individual members have about sponsorship, board members may also lack the skills and thus the confidence to be helpful. 


On the other hand, some board members actually may have experience with sponsorship and the related areas of marketing and sales. However, the issue may be that they don't trust your sponsorship program. 


Related to trust, above, it may be your staff that they don't trust, and they certainly feel no compunction to entrust your team with relationships they’ve taken a career to develop.

These are just a handful of the true reasons why board members aren’t fully supportive and participatory in your organization’s sponsorship efforts. If you can uncover the real problem and address it, you’ll greatly expand your organization’s network by reaching into a team of ambassadors. Left unaddressed and your board may actually unwittingly undermine your efforts by not participating.

Additional resources:



Originally published in BowerPower Papers Winter 2014 issue. Subscribe to receive your very own copy each quarter. 

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