by Bill Champion
You and your practice receive numerous financial requests to support organizations in the form of sponsorships every single year. These sponsorships can range from hospital-related galas to large sporting events and charitable fundraisers. Sponsorships come in all shapes and sizes and involve a broad range of participants and benefactors. With so many options and so many different audiences, how do you know which sponsorships offer you and your practice real value and which ones are simply spending money?
First and foremost, segment these requests into three specific categories. The first is goodwill. Expenditures that fit into this category are those that have little, if anything, to do with generating patient volume. These are focused more on supporting the organization and its objective or cause. A good example of goodwill would be the Arthritis Foundation fun run or a local cancer center’s golf event.
The second category would be referral support. This category focuses around supporting organizations that currently support the practice with routine referrals. This might be sponsoring a high school athletic department that you provide coverage for or a primary care event. Neither of these expenditures is likely to directly drive patient volume, and that is fine. The expenses are intended to reinforce a current referring relationship that is generating consistent referrals.
The last category is promotion or new patient generation. This category is for the specific intent to drive new patient volume to the practice, and it requires an intention and approach to document new patients generated from the effort.
If you evaluated the sponsorship dollars you spent last year, how much would have fallen into each category and, more importantly, how many patients did you document from the new patient-generation category? Did it generate a return on investment? Not all efforts will work, but by measuring and documenting results, you can save those dollars and time and move on to another initiative that could generate greater returns and value to you and your partners.
Over time, by categorizing and evaluating how you allocate your time and money, you will come to the conclusion that your most valued sponsorship dollars are those that fall into the referral support category. These sponsorships allocate time, effort and some dollars to reinforce a clear and definitive referral source. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t set aside dollars for goodwill to support important and worthy local causes. Additionally, this isn’t to say you shouldn’t try to structure ways to attract more patients. What it is saying is that writing a check for the opportunity to show your logo doesn’t generate patients. Results come from efforts that more closely reflect a referral relationship (effort, value, interaction and relationships), and results have less to do with logos and the exchange of money.
Disclosure: Champion reports he is president and CEO of Venel.