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Working with Partners and Sponsors

Your community-based organization brings invaluable expertise to the prevention table, but you may not have sufficient staffing or time to fully prepare for and host a successful Communities Talk: Town Hall Meeting to Prevent Underage Drinking. You can accomplish more with help from local partners and sponsors that can expand your resources and reach through in-kind contributions.

What in-kind contributions might a partner or sponsor provide?

In-kind contributions can be in the form of volunteers, goods, and services. A partner or sponsor might:

  • Donate funds.
  • Supply volunteers! Youth volunteers, in particular, may feel passionate about underage drinking prevention and want to earn social service credits through their participation.
  • Provide or obtain facilities.
  • Offer outreach assistance, such as by promoting the event on their websites and through social media, or by posting flyers in their establishments.
  • Recruit or obtain speakers for the event.
  • Invite key policymakers to the event.
  • Print promotional materials and event programs.
  • Provide audiovisual capabilities.
  • Supply giveaway materials—momentos, such as key chains, pens, water bottles, coffee sleeves, reusable bags, and magnets, can serve as reminders of the event.*
  • Furnish door prizes, which can be incentives for attendees.*
  • Supply catering—Food is another popular way to encourage attendance.*
  • Organize interactive activities for the event.

Whom should we invite to be a partner or sponsor?

As a first step, identify key stakeholders in your community and the reasons why underage drinking prevention should be important to them. Next, consider what resources they might offer. High schools, for example, benefit from healthy, drug-free students. These schools have ample meeting space, and their personnel—including teachers, nurses, counselors, and coaches—offer direct links to parents. Schools might welcome the opportunity to donate the meeting space and use their website and personnel to encourage attendance at your event.

Other groups to consider follow:

Businesses—Local businesses, such as car dealerships, corporations, banks, and hotels; retail and entertainment establishments, such as gas stations, bowling alleys, and movie theaters; and area restaurants can be good sources for door prizes and giveaways as well as outlets for promotional materials. Local outlets for large chain stores, such as Target and Walmart/Sam’s Club, offer small grants to nonprofit organizations in their communities.

Colleges—Colleges can help provide volunteers, peer- to-peer education, interactive activities, media coverage, and motivation for your event. Additionally, you can go to the public relations program within your local college for help with outreach strategy. Most colleges offering programs in communications, marketing, or public relations have connections to professional associations. The Public Relations Society of America has a student society; local chapters frequently look for off-campus projects to use as learning experiences.

Faith-Based Organizations—Faith-based groups in your community may yield a number of other partners with a tradition of community service and a strong volunteer base. In fact, many faith-based organizations have health and wellness programs.

Health Care Providers—Health care providers, such as pediatricians, nurse practitioners, counselors, health maintenance organizations, and community hospitals, may be able to publicize the event on their marketing platforms (i.e., newsletters, websites, and social media) or distribute materials in their offices. They also might have brochures related to substance abuse that could be distributed at your event.

Government Offices—Libraries, public housing authorities, your state and local Department of Family and Child Services and Department of Health and Human Services, among others, can be approached to help with your event.

Parent Groups—Community parent groups, Parent Teacher Associations, foster parent associations, athletic organizations, and music and arts programs can be useful for reaching parents and caregivers.

Youth Service Organizations—Local chapters of youth service organizations and groups, such as Boys & Girls Clubs of America, YMCA, YWCA, Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America, the Boy Scouts of America, the Girl Scouts of America, and Students Against Destructive Decisions, can help you reach and educate youth and young adults about underage drinking prevention.

Community Service Organizations—The local Elks, the Lions Club, the Rotary Club, graduate chapters of fraternities and sororities, Urban League affiliates, and other community service organizations may have the well- being of youth or substance abuse prevention as a priority objective within their mission.

How can we encourage in-kind contributions?

The following tips can help you encourage contributions:

  • Don’t view a request for in-kind contributions as “asking for help.” Instead, consider that you are offering individuals and organizations an opportunity to be part of an event that will benefit the entire community and may even further their own mission.
  • Be enthusiastic about requesting contributions and be open to suggestions. Individuals and organizations that may be uncomfortable or unable to donate cash may willingly donate time and services.
  • Stress the mutual benefits of in-kind contributions. For example, media coverage of your event provides a community service and helps the media outlet fill news space.
  • Emphasize to businesses that their in-kind contributions to a Communities Talk event builds goodwill within the community—a valuable asset in attracting and maintaining loyal customers.
  • Planning stipends from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration may not be used for food and beverages, door prizes, discounts, incentive giveaways, or promotional products (e.g., T-shirts, baseball caps, or coffee mugs).