breaking away from the pack

Corporate Sponsorships for Higher Education Institutions

By on November 13, 2009 in Uncategorized

New corporate partners programs are going campus-wide at University of California Los Angeles and University at Buffalo, SUNY.  With a recent addition to their Office of Corporate, Foundation and Research Relations, UCLA has created a new position with responsibility for the identification, development and sales cycle of non-Athletics related corporate sponsorships across the campus.

Eron Jacobson, Director of Corporate Partnerships, develops corporate partners programs with academic and administrative units to make their sponsorable assets more marketable and available to corporate sponsors. Depending on the need, he may take a lead or support role to identify opportunities, package them, develop a pipeline of prospects, and when appropriate, pitch those prospects and close sponsorship deals. His focus ranges from UCLA’s professional schools to their Office of Student Programming and Development’s Welcome Week and Bruin Bash.

Recently, Jacobson provided assistance in the development of a major corporate sponsorship for the Fowler Museum at UCLA and their current exhibition “Steeped In History, The Art of Tea”. While the Museum’s development staff had secured foundation funding to support the exhibit, the group had no funds to market the program.

Only six months into his new position with UCLA, Jacobson secured a presenting sponsorship worth $30,000 in cash, $10,000 in in-kind support and additional support through in-store promotions delivered by the sponsor, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. Development staff indicated that the sponsorship allowed them to drive incremental traffic to the museum and to reach a whole new profile of guests and prospective donors. It also helped them to raise the level of programming for their donor parties and public programs.

Jacobson’s work was also key in securing sponsorships and implementing promotions for Welcome Week and Bruin Bash which had major event components that included an A-list concert lineup. Among other endeavors, he is currently focused on marketing corporate sponsorships for education programs and medicine.

New to the world of academia, Jacobson was recently quoted in an article in the newsletter of the Network of Academic Corporate Relations Officers. “It’s exciting to see the level of opportunity across this campus,” said Jacobson. “There are a tremendous number of programs that will fit into a traditional sponsorship model here at UCLA. We are able to provide advertisers with a solution that reaches a highly desirable and elusive demographic while associating their brand, product or service with an event that aligns itself with their core marketing strategy.”

University at Buffalo, State University of New York, took their Athletics program as a model to create a campus-wide sponsorship marketing position in their foundation office that is responsible for clearing corporate inquiries and assisting non-Athletics units with developing their corporate partners programs.

Elizabeth Siderakis, Director of Corporate Sponsorship Programs, works closely with UB-SUNY units across campus to help them understand the difference between sales and marketing and philanthropy, bring prospects to the table, package assets, negotiate and close deals, guide campus units through the sponsorship process, and renew sponsorships.

This is a recently new approach–corporate relations “with a marketing twist”. Here the sponsorable assets of a university, found in its academic and administrative programs and events, are leveraged to help corporate sponsors achieve their sales and marketing goals. On the opposite end of the continuum from philanthropy, corporate sponsorship allows corporations to exploit these assets in exchange for cash and in-kind investment. These arrangements give the added benefits to universities of stronger corporate relations, added promotional value and enhanced donor relations opportunities.

At the University of Arizona this year as Marketing Coordinator in the Office of External Relations, I had discussions with the University administration about these developments and presented the results of a research project I conducted on the University’s current landscape of corporate partners programs and corporate sponsorships, and the possibilities for a campus-wide business system. In this era of state budget cutbacks, the UA administration is looking for ways to backfill the funding hole that’s been created, but that in itself is the topic for a future blog.

Learn more about these new developments in university corporate relations in the Breakaway Media white paper, Corporate Relations with a Marketing Twist. What do you think? Does this hold potential to help solve the funding crisis that higher education institutions are facing?

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