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Corporate Sponsorship – It’s Not Just For Fun Runs


"The budget is tight this year. There is no money for incentives, new equipment or expensive programs."

These words are all too familiar to wellness managers. If austere resources are a problem for your program, it’s time to think outside the box.

Managers who have never sought corporate sponsors for their programs are overlooking a valuable potential resource. Even those who have used corporate sponsors often restrict their usage to some major event like a fitness challenge or health fair.

At some point, most managers have used the many resources available through non-profit associations (United Way, public health departments, etc.). Typically, the mission of non-profits is to raise awareness about some health or lifestyle issue. This is a form of sponsorship. And while the motivation to provide sponsorships is different for the organizations mentioned in this article, the principle is the same. It is just the methods that are different.

A corporate sponsor can be any business or organization that is willing to provide funds, services, resources or support in return for highly visible recognition from the company receiving its sponsorship donation(s). Potential corporate sponsors for worksite programs fall into four broad categories:

    1. Current or prospective company customers

    2. Current or prospective company sub-contractors, vendors, or strategic partners

    3. Local businesses that would like to increase employees patronage

    4. Traditional and complementary healthcare schools and agencies

Only you can identify and target your corporate customers and suppliers, but many local businesses represent opportunities for sponsorship (if you just ask!): medical equipment supply stores, pharmacies, local hospitals, rehabilitation centers, supermarkets, care centers for kids or senior citizens, health food stores, restaurants, movie theaters, movie rental stores, fitness centers, recreational facilities, theme parks, spas and sports apparel/equipment stores.

Whether the corporate sponsor is a customer or supplier of your organization or a local business, there are many ways to tap into their resources. Options to explore are:

  • Door prizes or incentives that are either relevant to the event’s theme/message or highly valued by the target audience: For example, blood glucose monitors, blood pressure cuffs, jump ropes, exercise equipment, sports clothing, food scale, vitamins, sports/nutrition drinks, child safety seat, meditation tapes, free service(s) at a local spa, healthy prepared food choices from grocery store, fruit from a produce stand, limited time membership at a fitness center or weight loss center, dinner at a healthy choice restaurant, pass to a movie theater or local theme park, etc.

  • Administrative support: manpower at events, secretarial support, collating program material or mass mail-outs, DVDs, free use of equipment or a facility, etc.

  • Financial support: It is important to be specific as to what the monetary support will cover, i.e., purchase of certain brochures, books, videos, office or audiovisual equipment; fees for a guest speaker or fitness instructor; printing; banners; posters; licensing of a turnkey wellness program, etc.

Many healthcare-related schools including nursing, public health, health education and dietitians have a community service requirement for graduation. Explore opportunities for internships within your company or manpower support for major events. If you need to accomplish a specific project; for example, screening healthy choices in vending machines or monitoring work stations for ergonomic problems, students may be the answer.

Complementary health schools often affiliate with their local state professional associations to raise awareness about their profession. An example would be massage therapy students providing worksite massages in connection with a stress management or injury prevention program.

What do all categories of corporate sponsors expect in return? They want to see their name used in marketing the program, displayed during the event and included in any other way possible. Make every effort to thank them publicly. Be sure to send them a sincere "Thank You" letter after the event or donation, preferably signed by the CEO or some other senior manager. Highlight the benefits your organization derived from their sponsorship.


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