Sponsorship and Sincerity

I recently attended a workshop that was sponsored by several law firms, major corporations and large organizations. The event and the law firms will remain anonymous (for obvious reasons), but the sponsorship implied trust, integrity and commitment by the business community to a contemporary organizational issue.

Event attendees participated in a productive discussion; some were clients of the firms whose logos were included on the promotional material and some would probably be good clients for those firms to have.

There was just one problem. None of the law firms who sponsored the workshop had sent a representative to participate in the workshop or, at the very least, lend credibility and sincerity to their firm’s espoused values. Not. One. And people noticed.

Law firm decision makers are constantly asked to sponsor community events and causes. How can you make the right decision for your budget, your values and your brand? Here’s are some brief, straightforward tips:

  • Look for causes that you have a connection to, not just causes that look good in a proposal. If someone in your firm is on the board of directors, or if you are actively involved in the organization, then sponsorship is a viable option.
  • If you wouldn’t attend an event, don’t sponsor it.
  • Find a cause that reflects the values of your entire firm, not just your leaders. It’s should reflect the common themes in your brand identity.
  • Create decision making guidelines and criteria. This makes it slightly easier to say “no” to requests that don’t fit the bill. For example, some firms will choose to limit sponsorship to an area of need such as pro bono services or an annual event such as a fundraiser. It’s a great way to tie activities to the heritage of a firm because it shows consistency, reliability and trustworthiness over several years.
  • If you engage in a large sponsorship of a non-profit organization where your logo will appear on promotional material throughout the year, ask for a list of upcoming events and ensure that it is updated quarterly. Ensure not only that your firm is represented at events, but that your association with the organization is represented using the standards you’ve agreed to. This includes signage, recognition and logo reproduction. If no one can attend, be considerate and send an apology to the organizer so that you can be recognized in absentia. (This will make you a favourite sponsor among event organizers, who often volunteer their time).

What would you add to the list?


  1. Interesting note. I suspect the firms thought that sponsoring an event or organization created the connection. Some brands may be content with being known as generous benefactors to certain charitable or progressive causes.

    Of course, such efforts ring hollow if the mischief being addressed by the event or organization is prevalent within the sponsoring firm. Otherwise, I think its fair game to sponsor through money what one cannot sponsor through time and people-power.