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Sponsorship management: Time to get the house in order


This past January, Elevent was publishing its thoughts on the year ahead instead of the traditional trends. Six months into 2021, we’re finally getting a little taste of normalcy.

Here’s where we currently stand on our thoughts for 2021:

The road to normalcy

In thinking about the year ahead, we looked at the trends—and aftermaths—of previous pandemics. The current rise of variants is certainly wreaking havoc in parts of the world, but nations with high rates of vaccination seem to be holding up for now. So we still believe that people will be eager to head back to sporting arenas, music venues, shows, running events, tours and festivals. This has already begun in most of the US with Europe and Canada soon to follow.

As a precaution, many summer events have still been pushed to later in the year, but concert halls and arenas are booked to the rafters starting in September 2021.

Virtual fatigue is a real thing

Yes, the pandemic will have a meaningful impact on how we organize offices and view both remote work and the importance of the in-person meetings. (We may now think twice before taking half a day to grab a coffee on the other side of town.)

Virtual meetings will certainly maintain their relevance for sales and internal company meetings. B2B events with international travellers may also stick to the digital format through the first part of 2022.

Festivals, concerts and shows are likely to drop their virtual offering as it’s onerous to produce, hard to monetize and, let’s all be honest here, never makes for a great experience.

As we witnessed during the NHL playoffs, fans were eager to come back to arenas. In a recent Elevent survey, 62% of hockey fan respondents stated that they enjoy going to games in person—a higher percentage than for any other league.

How is the sponsorship industry coping?

Very few deals have been signed in the last 15 months as many sponsors sat on the fence, wondering how things would turn out and trying to stay clear of an outbreak that could ultimately hurt their brand.

This concern or “risk aversion” appears to have slowly dissipated over the past few months. Sponsorship sales have been sluggish but expect a busy autumn and prepare for a flurry of sponsorship requests.

Are you ready for the upcoming wave of sponsorship and donation requests?

As an industry, we’ll likely witness a wave of requests for support and sponsorship in the coming 18 months, which means that managing donations through emails and Excel sheets will be even more of a mess. This is the perfect time to get your house in order and have the right tools in place to manage the onslaught of activity through this “roaring 20s” period.

Rise of social responsibility

Already an increasingly relevant topic, donations were impacted by the pandemic as people shifted their focus to food banks (43%), health (34%) and youth services (32%) in the last 12 months.

A rebalance is likely, with a shift to the more traditional top three sectors of health, education and kids’ health. One thing is certain: the needs will be staggering.

The need for measurement and accountability

The economic slowdown/rebound caused by the pandemic, the rise of digital marketers attuned to real-time measurement and the increase in corporate accountability (governance) are all contributing to the need for sponsorship valuation and performance measurement.

While it has been a talking point for in the industry for quite a while, things feel different now and the planets seems to be aligned for a real change in mindset.

The road ahead

As we continue down the path towards normalcy, we look forward to enjoying local events and festivals and welcoming large international gatherings back into our social calendars. Many parts of the world should be in a position to do this by 2022 if not before.


As things reopen in North America and Europe, the looming threat of the more transmissible Delta variant is causing problems in many parts of the world, delaying reopening in the UK and prompting new lockdowns in Australia and Southeast Asia. If vaccination numbers are too low, Delta may spoil the party, but let’s not give up hope.

All eyes will turn to Tokyo this month as the first test, with Canadians in particular tuning in, as 41% are either unconditional fans or fans of the summer Olympics.* I for one consider myself a proud member of that audience. Here’s to a safe competition!

Francis Dumais

Co-founder, Elevent

Want to save time with sponsorship requests? Check out BrickRoad.


Elevent National Survey, January 2021.


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