BarCamp - How to Run Your Own/Sponsorship
Because BarCamp is a non-profit and free event, its a good idea to get sponsorship for additional things.
What things you may want sponsorship for
- a party
- Projector and equipment hire
Things to remember before getting sponsorship
Sponsorship can be quite hard to get but there's nothing worst that getting it then having to turn it down because of some technicality.
- A bank account (preferably a join account which everyone in the Team can get access to)
- Get the sponsor to pay for things directly, so you don't have to handle the money at all.
- Get the sponsor to exchange goods for use in the barcamp
If you need help getting setup with the financial and logistical side of taking money in, the simplest solution is to approach someone who has already run a large BarCamp (over 100 people, say) as they will have had to go through the process of setting up business bank accounts and working out the legal side of things, and may be able to just let you use their bank accounts.
How to get sponsorship
Try and approach companies of all sizes and in a lot of different industries. If you can, try and develop a relationship with people working in those companies. Also, knowing people who work for PR companies is a useful thing: you approach the PR company and they can often pass on the sponsorship opportunity to companies as a way for them to get PR, to recruit people and to evangelise their products and services. But you need to set the ground rules, which we'll discuss shortly.
When approaching companies, have some marketing material to send them. The BarCampLondon team have produced attractive PDFs which contain an explanation of BarCamp, and contains a description of the sort of people who come to BarCamp and their interests, details of the sort of talks which go on at BarCamp, and reasons why people might want to sponsor.
Offer a number of sponsorship levels: BarCampLondon uses a three-level system - microsponsors, standard sponsors and premium level sponsors. Those map to £100-£200, £500 and £1000+. A premium sponsor is given the choice to sponsor a meal, or to sponsor the drinks, or maybe even sponsor a room name (although this last one is a bit tacky). Microsponsoring is just for startups and small companies. You should shoot to have no more than about three or four premium sponsors and no more than ten or twelve premium and normal sponsors combined. Remember that the more sponsors you get, the lower the value is for all of the sponsors as they are 'competing' with each other for space on your posters and in your opening presentation.
Have some little treats you can offer the sponsors as seducers. How you give out these seducers is something you have to keep a bit quiet: this is why you need to sometimes not organise stuff out in public, because sometimes you need to make a judgment call on whether it is worth giving the sponsor a little bit extra for their money or not. It's a business transaction basically, and people might knock you for it afterwards, so make an effort to act in the best interest of your attendees.
One thing you can do is to offer sponsors tickets to the event: at BarCampLondon, we tend to give all standard and premium level sponsors a ticket. Sometimes sponsors will offer you more, and you can use this as a way to secure some sponsors. Try and work out who they are going to use those tickets for. For BarCampLondon 7, one of the sponsors (a public-sector institution in the UK) asked for four extra tickets, but used those to allow programmers working on very interesting projects that the sponsor funds. Four tickets to get hackers along: good. Four tickets going to salesmen who'll verbally spam people: not good.
When dealing with sponsors, let them know what sort of things the BarCamp community will and will not tolerate.
The BarCamp community tend to be programmers and people from the Web 2.0 community, bloggers, social media users and so on.
Examples where this has failed:
- Don't let the sponsors send out e-mail to your attendees. This will infuriate the attendees, and any love they might be feeling for the sponsor will drop away quickly.
- Tell the sponsor that low-key works. There is a lot of love for sponsors by attendees, and it'll build up respect in the community if they treat them intelligently and reasonably.
- Don't book slots for sponsors, and tell sponsors to be interesting. Imagine you've got a sponsor who runs Example.com. A BarCamp session is not an opportunity to pitch, to recruit, to advertise or any of that.