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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Edcamp Sponsorship Levels

Edcamp Sponsorship Levels

Related Tags: Edcamps
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12 Replies 47 Views

Hi everyone -

For three years now I've been helping organize the sponsorship outreach for a local edcamp (edcampSFBay) and I wanted to ask some veteran edcamp organizers some thoughts on sponsorship levels and packages.

Typically, we ask for in-kind (goodies) donations or cash donations via email and twitter. Cash donations we give extra promotion to on social media, on our website (they go first in order of logos), and during the event promotion but that's it. Nothing super fancy.

I did notice tons of edcamps out there that created levels (gold, platinum, friend, supporter kind of things) that specifially state what each level gets in terms of recognition.

I thought we could use this space to share what we all do and reflect to see if there's a point of diminishing returns (is there a point where we're putting in tons of effort with less in return). In typical edcamp style, I usually like to keep it efficient, informal, and easy (without overbearing the attendees with sponsorship stuff) but I'm also VERY open to see what's working for everyone. 

Perhaps we can also share a list of organizations to approach. 

Thanks in advance!

Elana

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Elana Leoni's picture
Elana Leoni
Director of Social Media Strategy and Marketing @Edutopia, edcamp organizer
Staff

Interesting. Thanks Dan and Kevin. I generally just ask for $500 minimum when I do ask for cash. The cash donations go entirely to food costs: Lunch first (my goal is always to make lunch free if possible), then breakfast, and last year -- we even got an energy break (food and coffee) sponsor, which we did an hour or so after lunch. This year -- it might be nice to have a sponsor help out with the afterparty costs.

Kevin -- I think we're in the midst of opening up an EdcampSFBay bank account, so companies can write a check to the event and not to specific educators (that'd make me nervous as well!). We can now use the edcamp 501(c)3 number to open up a nonprofit account.

Some of my hesitation with creating sponsorship levels is that I don't want to make this a "how much can we give sponsors love" event -- it should be about the learning first and foremost. Sometimes with sponsorship levels, we can offer way too many things to recognize sponsors. It's definitely all about balance but I wanted to bring this up. If you ask many edcamp organizers, they say one of the most time-consuming things they do is vendor relations (updating websites, powerpoints, event signs, speaking prompts, social media shout outs, following up etc.).

Thoughts?

(1)
Laura Thomas's picture
Laura Thomas
Director, Antioch University New England Center for School Renewal
Facilitator 2014

We've never done levels before, but I'm borrowing heavily from EdcampBoston in planning for EdcampKeene this year. (August 20! Don't miss it!) We're trying to adapt the levels to our own local context- rather than bronze/silver, etc. we have seed, sprout, flower, and meadow levels, 'cause that's how we roll. :-)

Seriously though, trying to come up with meaningful ways to differentiate is tricky. Is it really worth $100 just to get a larger sign? I struggle with it but I'm willing to try.

Gwen Pescatore's picture
Gwen Pescatore
President Home & School Assoc, #ParentCamp Organizer, Co-Moderator #PTchat

Although #ParentCamp isn't exactly an #edcamp, we do model the format after edcamp. For us so far, we have only done a small amount in sponsorship. The goal is to cover the cost for breakfast pastries/drinks (ParentCamp is only a half day). The 1st event, we were able to supply breakfast and give out a few goodies in the swag bags. The 2nd, we happened to pick up some additional sponsors so we provided the breakfast and then raffled a few door prizes.

I think it one of the nice features about edcamps is that they aren't so commercial; that the focus, and reason people attend, is to share and learn...not to get a prize.

As far as benefits for the sponsors...I think recognizing them and their commitment to the community and/or education in a variety of places is a great return on their money as long as the attendees are their target audience.

Elana Leoni's picture
Elana Leoni
Director of Social Media Strategy and Marketing @Edutopia, edcamp organizer
Staff

Laura and Gwen - It seems like we're on the same page. I sometimes feel I need a bit more "polish" -- showing exactly what they get per level and making it worth the sponsor's time but as Gwen talked about -- it's about the learning first.

I am facing trying to cover lunch for our attendees, which is about $2500 and without a ton of documentation, not many vendors are willing to donate that level of cash.

(1)
Kevin Jarrett's picture
Kevin Jarrett
K-4 Technology Facilitator from Northfield, New Jersey
Facilitator 2014

Hi Elana,

Be very, very careful - how many are you expecting to attend?

You've heard I'm sure of the infamous 50% attrition rule - it's a virtual certainty that AT LEAST half the people who sign up won't come.

It varies by event, I know in Boston the attrition rate is closer to 40%, and that's what we usually see with Padcamp, but, virtually every other Edcamp I have been associated with had more than half not show up.

This is especially a problem for events that purchase lunch. One Edcamp in particular (that I won't mention by name) had both a very expensive lunch and a very high attrition rate, something like 65%. They wasted a TON of food - and money.

I'd seriously consider either not providing lunch or making something available "on the day of the event at an extra cost for those who wish to purchase it." That way the event is still free and true to the Edcamp ethos, and you cover all the bases.

Another option is to just provide one type of food and not stress about it. At Padcamp, we provide plain cheese pizza and water. We've never heard a single complaint. Why? IT'S FREE, like the whole event! If you don't want pizza, make your own plans! :) Simple.

Hope this helps,

-kj-

(1)
Elana Leoni's picture
Elana Leoni
Director of Social Media Strategy and Marketing @Edutopia, edcamp organizer
Staff

Thanks Kevin. I think we're going to provide vouchers for a certain amount off of lunch. We've done this three times now and we're at about a 50% attrition rate. Vouchers allow us to customize it and base it off of people who show up. We're just not sure how much the vouchers will be worth yet but it seemed to work out last year and you're right...free is free :)

Kevin Jarrett's picture
Kevin Jarrett
K-4 Technology Facilitator from Northfield, New Jersey
Facilitator 2014

Ah! Gotcha. Sounds good! Didn't realize you were a veteran organizer!

Rusul's picture
Rusul
Professor of English composition and literature

Hi Elana, this post is really helpful for me since it's my first time co organizing EdCampToronto so I am learning a lot as I go.

I am curious how you manage the sponsors at your edcamp, without them being overtly marketing their products. I don't have a problem with sponsors, but would like to maintain the non commercial feel of Edcamp.

Dan Callahan's picture
Dan Callahan
Professional Learning Specialist, Edcamper, Graduate Professor

Hi Rusul,
I find the key is to very strongly and carefully set expectations about what they will not get:
- vendor table or booth
- sponsored sessions
- special time to sell their product at the beginning or end of the day

What they will get:
- logo in a bunch of places around the site
- thanks at the beginning and end of the day
- logo and link on the blog

Sponsors are always welcome to attend an Edcamp, but if they do, I caution them against running a sales pitch session, because at an Edcamp, it will not engender any good will towards their product. They're much better acting as any other participant, sharing about the things they're interested in, not their products.

(1)
Elana Leoni's picture
Elana Leoni
Director of Social Media Strategy and Marketing @Edutopia, edcamp organizer
Staff

Echoing Dan's thoughts. I find more edu-vendors are now familiar with the edcamp model but not all of them. I *always* echo that we are all just educators and we can only promise the specific things we mention and for us that's just a logo on our website and verbal mentions at the event . The bonus stuff of social media mentions I usually don't mention because you don't want to be put in that awkward situation where you promised something that didn't happen.

I have a simple template and go from there and haven't had any problems but better to be safe than sorry.

Hope this helps!

Dan Callahan's picture
Dan Callahan
Professional Learning Specialist, Edcamper, Graduate Professor

Hi Rusul,
I find the key is to very strongly and carefully set expectations about what they will not get:
- vendor table or booth
- sponsored sessions
- special time to sell their product at the beginning or end of the day

What they will get:
- logo in a bunch of places around the site
- thanks at the beginning and end of the day
- logo and link on the blog

Sponsors are always welcome to attend an Edcamp, but if they do, I caution them against running a sales pitch session, because at an Edcamp, it will not engender any good will towards their product. They're much better acting as any other participant, sharing about the things they're interested in, not their products.

(1)
Kevin Jarrett's picture
Kevin Jarrett
K-4 Technology Facilitator from Northfield, New Jersey
Facilitator 2014

Hi Elana,

Be very, very careful - how many are you expecting to attend?

You've heard I'm sure of the infamous 50% attrition rule - it's a virtual certainty that AT LEAST half the people who sign up won't come.

It varies by event, I know in Boston the attrition rate is closer to 40%, and that's what we usually see with Padcamp, but, virtually every other Edcamp I have been associated with had more than half not show up.

This is especially a problem for events that purchase lunch. One Edcamp in particular (that I won't mention by name) had both a very expensive lunch and a very high attrition rate, something like 65%. They wasted a TON of food - and money.

I'd seriously consider either not providing lunch or making something available "on the day of the event at an extra cost for those who wish to purchase it." That way the event is still free and true to the Edcamp ethos, and you cover all the bases.

Another option is to just provide one type of food and not stress about it. At Padcamp, we provide plain cheese pizza and water. We've never heard a single complaint. Why? IT'S FREE, like the whole event! If you don't want pizza, make your own plans! :) Simple.

Hope this helps,

-kj-

(1)
Elana Leoni's picture
Elana Leoni
Director of Social Media Strategy and Marketing @Edutopia, edcamp organizer
Staff

Laura and Gwen - It seems like we're on the same page. I sometimes feel I need a bit more "polish" -- showing exactly what they get per level and making it worth the sponsor's time but as Gwen talked about -- it's about the learning first.

I am facing trying to cover lunch for our attendees, which is about $2500 and without a ton of documentation, not many vendors are willing to donate that level of cash.

(1)
Elana Leoni's picture
Elana Leoni
Director of Social Media Strategy and Marketing @Edutopia, edcamp organizer
Staff

Interesting. Thanks Dan and Kevin. I generally just ask for $500 minimum when I do ask for cash. The cash donations go entirely to food costs: Lunch first (my goal is always to make lunch free if possible), then breakfast, and last year -- we even got an energy break (food and coffee) sponsor, which we did an hour or so after lunch. This year -- it might be nice to have a sponsor help out with the afterparty costs.

Kevin -- I think we're in the midst of opening up an EdcampSFBay bank account, so companies can write a check to the event and not to specific educators (that'd make me nervous as well!). We can now use the edcamp 501(c)3 number to open up a nonprofit account.

Some of my hesitation with creating sponsorship levels is that I don't want to make this a "how much can we give sponsors love" event -- it should be about the learning first and foremost. Sometimes with sponsorship levels, we can offer way too many things to recognize sponsors. It's definitely all about balance but I wanted to bring this up. If you ask many edcamp organizers, they say one of the most time-consuming things they do is vendor relations (updating websites, powerpoints, event signs, speaking prompts, social media shout outs, following up etc.).

Thoughts?

(1)
Kevin Jarrett's picture
Kevin Jarrett
K-4 Technology Facilitator from Northfield, New Jersey
Facilitator 2014

Dan makes some very good points, especially for larger events. You need to have a handle on your outgo (must haves, like insurance, and nice-to-haves, like giveaways and maybe lunch). One thing that DOES help is to encourage sponsors to deal directly with a vendor (say, a coffee service) because it's easier from an accounting standpoint. Many companies are not comfortable (understandably so) with writing checks to random educators claiming to be running a conference. :) Not a problem with the usual edtech folks we often hit up, but for local sponsors, it can be an issue.

I'll close with this thought - while I appreciate the need for sponsors - event's can't run without them - stuff like "levels" seems to be counter to the non-commercial ethos of Edcamp. I like it when sponsors support our events and then let us make a big deal about them during the opening remarks (and on the event blog, on Twitter, etc.) Again, for local sponsors, the social media impact might not be super meaningful, but for anyone active in or concerned about social media, it definitely is.

Great question! Hope this helps!

-kj-

(1)
Dan Callahan's picture
Dan Callahan
Professional Learning Specialist, Edcamper, Graduate Professor

Hi Elana,
Here's Boston's sponsorship levels http://edcampboston.org/sponsor-edcamp/

Like almost anything else, the answer to how much to ask for is very much an it depends. Boston started with smaller sponsorship amounts, but when we doubled in size from year 1 to year 2, we upped how much we asked for. We've stayed at the same levels the past few years.

It really helps to have a good idea of what things are going to cost. Does your venue have any costs you need to pay like custodial fees or insurance? Which meals are you planning offering? How nice do you plan on making them? Coffee at the beginning of the day or all day? Do you need to use venue-specific catering, or can you bring food in, or can you choose your own catering company? Bottled water available, or ask people to bring their own bottles? Are you buying tshirts for everybody, or are you having attendees purchase them if they want them? Are you planning on buying gift cards as door prizes? Are you going to pay for anything at your after party?

Keep in mind that almost all of these things except venue are things that are NICE to have, and aren't required in irder to have a successful Edcamp. They just make the experience a little more luxe.

I've generally found the best bet for financial sponsors is to go local. Most national companies or organizations can't be bothered to offer so many small amounts of money to all of the Edcamps happening out there now, and are much more likely to offer giveaways. If you have any local edtech companies, they're perfect candidates to hit up. I always refer to our $100 tier as the startup tier, because I recognize that they don't have a lot of money, but it's an easy way for them to get a little recognition. Local colleges with masters in education programs also are excellent candidates for hitting up, , and local affiliates for national organizations like iste and ascd are also great for money in many places.

(1)

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