Sponsorship

Mr Noel Bloomfield, Development & Marketing Manager, Bath Building Society (BIBS)
Mr James Taljaard, Business Manager, Arts & Business (A&B) South West Area
Sir Robin Buchanan, Bath Rotary Club on 25 April 2002

Mr Bloomfield opened the meeting by asking: "What is sponsorship?" and suggesting various dictionary definitions and synonyms - promise; care; patronage; assistance. The general impression of the public is that it is merely a form of marketing, and in BIBS there is, indeed, a single budget for marketing, advertising and sponsorship..

He then explained who BIBS sponsor, how they decide, and what they get out of sponsorship.

Their first requirement is that the activity should support and benefit the local community, because they are a mutual Building Society whose Members are part of that community. They sponsor some organisations regularly over a long period - the Round Table Firework Display; The Mid-Somerset Competitive Festival; Bath Scouts Christmas Stamps - and others for `one-off' events - Bath Mini Rugby; Bath Young Enterprise and Avon Ambulance Child Safety Programme. These are only examples of their choices, there are many other organisations that they support.

In addition, they support fundraising by individual members of their staff or customers, such as the RUH `Ted's Big Day Out' and Marathon runners, and their balloon, which is seen over Bath so often, allows them to provide flight vouchers as raffle prizes for schools and charities.

In return they receive exposure in the local press, on radio and TV when they report the events but, more importantly, maintain a profile within the Bath community as a local company that cares and is proud to be part of Bath.

 

Mr Taljaard explained that Arts & Business had been founded 26 years ago as the Association for Business Sponsorship of Arts. It is funded by the Arts Council and 400 business members, and has a national income of £3 million p.a. of which 10% comes to the South West area. Their objective is to help arts `get business on board' and to help businesses invest in the arts.

 

The first of these objectives is arranged by the Board Bank, sponsored by NatWest, which encourages senior business executives to join the Board of arts organisation and provide business skills as non-executive Directors. In general, these executives are below Board level in their companies and the experience as a non-executive director provides them with training to enable them to become directors of a commercial company.

The second objective is a lower-level version, the Skills Bank, where business managers advise artists individually or managers of organisations to develop their managerial capabilities in marketing, finance, IT, law, business planning and `human relations'(personnel). The learning is mutual; the exchange of cultures, skills and information helps both the arts and the business.

Arts & Business also train businesses to handle personnel problems by a specially-written play presented by actors; encourage the formation of art collections, clubs and volunteering; introduce artists-in-residence; and advise on sponsorship. Further details can be obtained from their web site: www.AandB.org.uk

 

Sir Robin Buchanan defined sponsorship by the phrase ` Money passes, value comes back'; if no value comes back the money is a donation. Rotary do not sponsor, they donate.

 

Rotary International, with headquarters in Chicago, has two major programmes. The Polio Plus Programme has for 25 years supported efforts to eliminate polio, with 95% success to date. The Foundation Scholarships, which support selected scholars each to study at a number of Universities world-wide, is widely considered an excellent programme, equal to a Rhodes Scholarship in prestige.

In Bath, the three Rotary Clubs raise about £26,000 p.a. and provide donations to a large number of organisations in amounts varying from thousands to a few hundred pounds. Major recent donations have included; £7,800 to the Peggy Dodd Centre of REMI (Relatives of the Elderly Mentally Ill); £6,000 each to the Children's ward and for the Friends of the RUH; £1,650 annually to the Christmas Parcels Appeal. They run an annual outing to Longleat for children and support many small organisations needing equipment.

Their annual Golf Match raises substantial sums from the businesses that take part.

 

Discussion

 

There was limited time for discussion but the following points were made:

The `value which comes back' from sponsorship can and is carefully calculated by accountants who ensure it is worthwhile continuing the sponsorship.

After the terrorist attacks on USA on September 11 2001, many firms, especially in the USA, cancelled sponsorship deals as `inappropriate'.

World problems of poverty are not solved by sponsorship deals, although these may raise the awareness of the problems. Such problems are less likely to be solved by religious organisations, because of the fragmentation of religious belief, than they are by non-religious organisations.

Sponsorship is becoming more important as a source of funds as Government subsidies fall.

Lottery money, which was not mentioned during the presentations, appears to be decreasing as a source for charities and good works, and in any case, the support should often be a Government responsibility, not raised by gambling.

Donald Lovell