Co-Sponsoring an event or program with another organization can be challenging. However, when co-sponsorships work out the end result can be amazing.
Co-Sponsorship Gone Wrong
The first event I tried to plan as a co-sponsorship in college was Homecoming for my sorority and a fraternity we paired with in the Fall of 2011. When deciding what fraternity I was going to ask to co-sponsor with us, I discussed it with the Executive Board of my chapter and we came up with our top three choices. From there, we sent out a survey asking chapter members to vote on which fraternity they would most like to host the event with. I then contacted the top two fraternities to gauge their interest in working with us. I had a lot of trouble actually contacting the fraternity that was ranked by my chapter as the top choice to do Homecoming with. The second choice chapter, however, answered me back right away. Although I would have been happy working with the second choice chapter, I waited to hear back from the first choice. As it turns out, the contact that I had for the first choice chapter had graduated, and they had never elected anybody to replace him. This made planning the event very difficult for me. Eventually, they did elect a new representative for their chapter to help me plan Homecoming once they learned we were interested in co-sponsoring with them. From there the event planning went fairly well, though didn’t turn out as well as I would have liked. Many other things went wrong including t-shirt sales, theme, and invitations.
Co-Sponsorship Done Right
Greek Night at the RAC is an example of an event that seems to have in the past been co-sponsored really well. Greek Night at the RAC is an event co-sponsored by the Interfraternity Council, the Panhellenic Council, and Rutgers Athletics. What happens is Rutgers Athletics chooses a basketball game that they want to have a large amount of students show up for. They then tell the Panhellenic Council and the Interfraternity Council the date of the game. The Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Council then purchase food vouchers, and announce the date to the Greek Community. Fraternities and sororities alike are encouraged to attend the game. The turnout is usually amazing. The event helps all three of the organizations get involved with working together, and is good publicity for all three. The two Greek Councils show support for Rutgers Athletics bringing large numbers of students to the games, while at the same time coming together as a group within the Rutgers Community.
This year I have gotten to see some of the planning that goes into Greek Night at the RAC on the side of the Panhellenic Council. Although the event has a great turnout, and is amazing once completed, getting to that point I’ve seen is tough. This year I’ve seen that communication between the councils and athletics can be just as complicated as communication between my sorority and the fraternity was when I planned Homecoming.
How to Avoid Stress When Co-Sponsoring
The most stressful thing about co-sponsoring an event with another organization from what I’ve seen is communication between organizations.
One of the main difficulties is the initial contact. When approaching another organization about co-sponsoring an event I’ve found that it is really useful to know at least one contact in that organization. What do I mean by this? It’s a lot easier to make the initial contact about co-sponsoring an event usually if someone in your organization knows someone in the organization you are trying to contact, and can help you bring the two organizations together. Leaders of organizations can be very busy and won’t always be able to respond to you as quickly as you would like. However, if you know someone in their organization that can bring your idea to the attention of the right people, it’ll become much easier for you to make that initial contact.
Another difficulty with co-sponsorship is working together. It can sometimes become really easy for one organization to do all the planning while the other organization(s) just go along for the ride. This can be avoided by dividing tasks between the organizations based off of who has the skills and availability best suited to each task and keeping up contact with each other to make sure that everyone is attempting to complete their tasks on time instead of procrastinating to the last minute and hoping everything gets done. This will help make sure the event is truly a joint event, and enable it to be the best it possibly can be.