Money and income streams continue to be a big challenge for schools. As a result, schools often turn to sponsors, well-wishers, and members of the community to fund some of the school’s projects.
In the last few years, big brands like food companies, financial institutions, huge grocery stores, and many others have found ways to plug themselves in and help schools. This has not been without challenges. Opposing voices have raised concerns about the negative impact of companies’ involvement in funding schools.
It is not unusual for schools to face uncertainty when it comes to budgeting. Under the circumstances, schools and companies alike seek out sponsorships that are mutually beneficial. In this post, we’ll explore the different types of corporate sponsorships, how they function, and how they can help schools. Additionally, we’ll talk about what principles you should follow to make these partnerships successful. Read on as we take a deep dive.
Companies sponsor schools in different ways. It includes financial sponsorships, in-kind, and promotional sponsorships. All these help schools [directly or indirectly] meet their goals.
Financial sponsorship is perhaps the most common sponsorship arrangement. This is where a company gives money to a school to help them fund a particular project. Schools can then carry out the project using the donated funds.
In-kind is another type of corporate sponsorship that comes in various forms. For instance, a company that has been allowed to advertise its products at a school event can provide prizes to be won, offsetting the budget for the school.
Promotional sponsorships between schools and companies also work in different ways. For example, it could be in the form of vouchers. How does this work? People purchase a company’s products and collect vouchers. Schools can then redeem these vouchers for particular items like computers and books.
Another way promotional partnerships work is through loyalty/reward programs. Here, a buyer gains points for buying from a business. Students can then redeem these points and exchange them for school supplies or other items.
Students, teachers, and companies all stand to gain from corporate sponsorships. If well managed, it is a golden opportunity to build relationships and give new resources to the school. Let’s look at how each of the parties benefits from this sort of partnership:
There can be a few potential negatives from such a partnership. They include undue influence on consumer behavior. For example, partnering with a soft drink company may promote the consumption of soft drinks which goes against school nutrition guidelines and healthy eating habits taught at school. Additionally, schools that have benefitted from a sponsorship may feel indebted to the company. There is also the issue of bad media coverage. It is always wise to weigh the pros and cons of any sponsorship to ensure it is right for your school and the business partner.
If the partnership compromises the students’ wellbeing, its costs outweigh the benefits. Schools should only consider partnering with companies whose ethos align with the school goals, principles, and vision. For example, companies that are known to have extreme political or religious stands should not be allowed to partner with schools.
A school should be a place to promote healthy living. It should promote the health and welfare of the students. If a commercial partnership undermines that guiding principle, the school should not consider such sponsorship. For example, a partnership that promotes alcohol consumption and items saturated in sugar and unhealthy fats should not be considered. It is also illegal to partner with a company that promotes the use of tobacco.
Whichever partnership a school has with a company should protect the students from exposure to marketing messages. The students should not be persuaded to buy the company’s advertised products. They should also not be exhorted to buy the advertised products for their guardians/parents.
Companies go a long way towards helping schools with tight budgets. However, commercial sponsorships should only be used to complement core services, not directly fund them. For example, proceeds of such a partnership must not be used to hire staff or pay for teacher/administrator salaries. Those funds should be allocated by government entities.
If the school has a marketing agreement with a company, the school should be careful to not directly state that they endorse the products or the company. In addition, a company logo should not be larger than the school logo, for example, on the school’s website. Statements such as ‘company X is the leading player in field Y’ should be completely avoided. If the company is providing products and services, the school should not suggest that that company is the only player in that particular market. Such explicit marketing messages should be avoided.
Do companies sponsor schools? Yes, they do. Companies have been at the frontline in helping schools fund programs and initiatives. Granted, this comes with a set of challenges, but if handled correctly and with the principles discussed above, companies can be prominent partners in the education sector. Ultimately, any partnership’s benefits to students/pupils must outweigh the costs.
Now that you are here, LeanStream is proud to present a whole host of fundraising, e-commerce, fees management, and donor engagement solutions. Please contact us if you need help in your school’s fundraising endeavors.