How do you save a sponsorship when the event's cancelled?


In the wake of Cyclone Debbie, most events scheduled this weekend across the eastern seaboard of Australia will undoubtedly be cancelled. While these are necessary measures for the safety of event personnel and patrons, how do event-holders and sponsors salvage the situation?

I've been working with event-holders and representing sponsors for over twenty years now and there's definitely do's and don'ts when it comes to managing the situation for the best possible outcome.

Here's my top suggestions, which are not intended to be a workplace health and safety checklist, more a list of potential issues that can impact the sponsor relationship if not handled correctly.

  • 1.Always have a wet weather contingency
  • This is especially important when planning outdoor events. Given the unpredictability of weather events, make sure you have an alternative venue established and a clear communications plan ready to action.
  • 2.Establish a clear timeline to make key decisions
  • All key decision makers need to be involved in making the bigger decisions – especially in the case of an event being cancelled. A clear timeline needs to be in place which factors in a range of considerations including restrictions around the venue, stage, lighting, other audio/visual equipment, performers, audience, budget and transport to name just a few. Once a day and time has been agreed to, this should be locked in so everyone knows the plan and keeps to it, regardless.
  • 3.Involve your major sponsors in the decision-making process.
  • I'll never forget one particular event several years ago where I had celebrities flying in from Sydney to the Sunshine Coast for an appearance a school-based Christmas Carols event. Despite a communicated and agreed wet weather plan, and despite the decision deadline passing whereby the school authorities had decided to proceed no matter what, a last-minute change of heart resulted in significant consequences for the sponsored relationship and the future of the event.
  • 4.Make sponsorship 365 days a year
  • Create sponsorships where there's before, during and after event activity so that the success of the sponsored event doesn't rise and fall on one day. The idea is to engage with your target market throughout the year so they learn to love your brand and everything you stand for. It's difficult to get any cut-through at all off the back of signage and a few token mentions by an event emcee. Instead aim to build deep and meaningful relationships, which can only happen when you provide value to the patrons and their event experience throughout the year.

For more on how to manage your next sponsored event, visit us at or look out of for our next blog where we provide all the latest tips and tools to event sponsorship.

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