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For Immediate Release

TORONTO, December 2003 – You’ve been charged with the responsibility for finding sponsors for your organization or association’s annual convention. They’re as close as your phone, says Peter Urs Bender, business consultant, author, and speaker.

He speaks from experience. A few months ago he was asked by CAPS, the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers, to help raise funds to defray the cost of the organization’s 2003 conference. He managed to acquire more than $60,000 in less than two months. It’s not the first time he’s raised such sums for an enterprise.

“Organizers generally have every excuse in the book why it’s not possible to raise money from outside. They will plead almost anything – lack of time, lack of committee, lack of help, lack of expertise – to avoid going that route,” he says.

“Yet even in tough times – maybe even especially in tough times – there are sponsors ready and willing to help. Ask them to contribute, to become part of the community effort. You’ll probably have your answer within days.”

Bender feels there are potential sponsors who never contribute to any venture because no organization has ever taken the time to explain how beneficial sponsorship is. Organizations also don’t know where to find sponsors.

“Start with your own members,” he says.

“Who benefits from a good conference? Members! Chapters, or even individual members within the association are likely sponsors. And don’t forget their suppliers. Connected to every organization is a web of enterprises that profit by good relations with your group. Identify them. Approach them. Make them an offer they can’t refuse!”

“Organizations weave the fabric that holds our society together,” he says.

“Sponsorship must, therefore, be good for everyone. But there is nothing wrong with a little polite discussion about the form of a sponsorship. A good, creative haggle produces better results for all.”

Bender suggests offering free admission to the conference as an inducement for sponsors. “Display their corporate or business logos. Offer free display space. Don’t hesitate to recommend that conference participants buy their products or use their services. Try to pair every participant in the conference with a sponsor that company will appreciate. Don’t hold your sponsors at arm’s length. Try to involve them in all conference activities.”

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