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What Is Conference Sponsorship?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 07 September 2016
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Conference sponsorship is the provision of funding to assist with conference costs, in exchange for promotions like naming the sponsor on conference materials. This can be a good public relations move for companies interested in presenting a positive image to the community, and it will provide conferences with valuable funding assistance. Conference organizers can approach sponsors to ask for assistance, or sponsors can put together a proposal for a conference they will agree to sponsor, and work with industry professionals to organize it.

Typically, conference sponsorship fall into several different tiers, depending on the amount of financial support they offer. Major sponsors provide significant amounts of funding, and a conference may have just one, or a group. Lesser sponsors offer some monies, but not as much. Major sponsors may get equal billing with the conference itself on promotional materials, with mentions in ads, programs, and public relations communications like press releases. Minor sponsors are typically listed in acknowledgments in programs and on websites.

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Companies may sponsor several conferences in a given year at varying levels, with the goal of making their names more well-known. It can be a good form of public outreach at professional conferences for people likely to use a company's products; for example, companies in the food industry often sponsor food expositions, conferences on nutrition, and so forth. Conference sponsorship can also be a measure to repair or improve public relations; a technology company might sponsor a conference on women in technology, for instance, to show that it is committed to improving opportunities for women in this field.

Organizers who want to get conference sponsorship need to put together a detailed proposal. The proposal outlines the planned conference and associated events, provides information about who will be present, and shows potential sponsors how their funding would support the conference. It also provides information about the benefits available at different sponsorship levels, such as mentions in a program, displays of their logos on conference materials, and so forth.

Large companies typically get far more requests for conference sponsorship annually than they can accommodate. Officials will meet to discuss requests and select the most promising for further discussion and eventual approval. If a company cannot offer financial support, it may provide in-kind donations for acknowledgments and to maintain a good image in the community. Engaging in charitable activities provides tax deductions and also increases positive perceptions of conference sponsors.

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