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Sponsorship for the rest of us

01 May 07

Did you think sponsorship was just for the big boys? Small and medium-sized businesses can do it successfully – and affordably – it just takes a little bit of thought.

Many large companies make room in their budget for corporate schmoozing – but it doesn’t have to be restricted to the big boys – smaller companies can take up tax-deductible sponsorships of the arts, sports or other interesting events - as long as they follow the IRD’s guidelines.
There’s a difference between corporate hosting and corporate sponsorship – it’s one thing to buy or rent a corporate box for a Super 14 game – that’s corporate hosting, which is only 50% tax-deductible and subject to FBT.
Sponsorship must promote your business in some way, target your intended client base and your company should feature somewhere prominently (like a show brochure or a sign in the club rooms) by the company or entity you’re sponsoring. Your company should receive adequate advertising value from your sponsorship; otherwise you’ll be facing the IRD hairy eyeball over your company – not a pretty sight.
So where’s a good place to start? Let’s get cultural – and talk about the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. It has a well-heeled, educated audience spread throughout the country and across a wide age band (target market – tick). A large proportion of its audience is female (possible new demographic – tick). It’s not based in Auckland (diverse catchment – tick).  Its name holds a certain cachet – so companies signing up as sponsors project a cultured, intelligent image. Imagine being able to host a valuable client and their partner at an event they could enjoy together – they’ll both remember you when it’s time to do business.
A business can sponsor a chair at the NZSO for between $5,000 - $9,999 (plus GST) per annum – and in return get 30 A Reserve tickets per year, a mention in all the programmes and documentation as a chair sponsor, and access to your musician or an ensemble once a year, for no additional cost.  That’s just for starters. When you consider that an A reserve ticket is priced around $86, you’ve instantly got half the lowest sponsorship value back in tickets alone.
The return for your investment increases as the sponsorship dollar goes up, naturally enough, and NZSO’s development manager Lisa Trail says they have a number of IT firms currently sponsoring the NZSO. She says they’re happy to tailor packages to suit businesses and recommends interested companies contact the NZSO to discuss what can be arranged.
Sporting sponsorships also loom large as an attractive investment – especially if the audience matches your company’s target market AND it’s a sport you enjoy.  Being careful with the fit to your business takes a bit of planning though.
Wellington-based IT company Silicon has been the official IT partner for the International Sevens in Wellington for the past five years and also a platinum sponsor for the event.  Silicon ensures the IT systems it has implemented are running smoothly as they enjoy the hype of the event.
When signing up to sponsor a sporting club or event, there’s usually a bit of quid pro quo when it comes to ticket availability, access to hospitality and even a car park or two, so you can highlight your corporate citizenship to your customers as you share the event experience.
There are also a large number of charities and community organisations who are desperately in need of a boost in funding, or maybe even access to your professional brainpower, which can be done through corporate sponsorship. Often it’s not until there’s a personal connection – like a hospital stay, or a family member starting sport – that businesses realise they have something to offer.
Sponsorship is something that can become an integral part of your business – and doesn’t need to remain static. Although there are some charities and businesses enjoying long-lasting relationships, other sponsorships end and evolve as both operations review their focus and whether or not they’re still working effectively together. Like every part of your business, it is worth reviewing annually to ensure you’re getting a good return on your investment.

When it comes to corporate sponsorship Infinity Solutions has taken the lead and supports a wide range of organisations.
These include the long-term sponsorship of the Blues franchise and the Auckland team, Wellington’s Circa Theatre and is the principal sponsor of the Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra. Infinity is also the IT support and implementation supplier to Emirates Team NZ.

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