Community event sponsorship in 2015

One of the goals I had for the Community team working days after WCSF was to iterate on the Multi-Event Sponsorship program for 2015. Kevin Cristiano, Tina Kesova, and Karim Marucchi met with me for a couple of hours to discuss where we thought the program needed to go for next year, and below are the results.

Great things about the multi-event sponsorship program:

  • When WordCamps get their budgets approved, they know they can count of a certain amount (sometimes a lot) of sponsorship money from multi-event sponsors. Reducing the fundraising burden on organizers allows them to spend more time on making great WordCamps.
  • Larger companies that want to support WordCamps but don’t have the time to spend working with individual organizers can just work with WordCamp Central, be billed quarterly, and get an email every time a WordCamp is added to the schedule with useful information about the WordCamp.

Issues with the multi-event sponsorship program:

  • In 2014 many WordCamps (especially in the US) were over-funded before ever recruiting local sponsors. We don’t want to leave out our local sponsors, since WordCamps are local events, but we do want to keep providing WordCamps with a funding “nest egg” at budget approval so that the fundraising burden on organizing teams is eased.
  • WordCamps received lots of financial support in 2014, but more communities are looking at doing more events that are not WordCamps, so we’d like to extend that support to those events, too.
  • Since chapter account meetups now have their meetup.com dues paid by the Foundation and can now ask to have the Foundation pay for their meetup venue costs, it’s appropriate to extend the sponsorship relationship to include meetups.
  • Some WordCamps did not fulfill the sponsorship packages as consistently as we expected them to.

Moving forward, I think the best course is to facilitate the sponsorship of local communities, not just WordCamps. Therefore, this proposed 2015 Community Sponsorship program addresses sponsorship of all official events.

The other big change in this proposal is that we’ll still be billing sponsors based on (projected) attendance, but we’ll be distributing sponsorship funds to events based on need. I’ll give an example based on WordCamp workflow: when a WordCamp’s budget is being reviewed, the organizing team will be asked how much they think they can raise from local sponsors with about 20 hours of work (including the work needed to acknowledge those sponsors). The budget reviewer will then suggest a sponsorship block grant to the WordCamp to help them reach their fundraising goals. This will allow us to give more support to new WordCamps (and other events) that don’t have the established fundraising relationships like other, more established events.

In the discussion we had at the Community Summit about the IRS rules that affect how official events can acknowledge sponsors (due to the non-profit status of the WordPress Foundation), it was agreed that while those rules were a little complicated, following them was preferable to the unattractive alternatives, and that in fact those rules resulted in a much less commercial “feel,” which we like for our official events. When those discussion notes are published, I’ll come back and edit in a link to them. 🙂

Read on for the proposed 2015 Community Sponsorship program in its novella-level entirety, and reply with a comment if you have a suggestion, doubt, or concern. 🙂

Sponsoring Community Events

Thanks for your interest in supporting the WordPress community via event sponsorship! We’re so grateful to our sponsors, because without them we couldn’t put on the events that help our community connect and grow.

When you sponsor an official WordPress event, you’re not giving money in exchange for marketing/advertising at the event or with the attendee audience. Sponsorships are donations, given to support the WordPress open source project.

There are two ways to sponsor: through the Global Community program, or through direct sponsorship of individual events. Sponsors for any official WordPress event must follow the requirements laid out in The Legal Stuff section below.

Global Community Sponsorship

If you’re interested in sponsoring all the WordPress communities in the world (or in your corner of it), then the Global Community Sponsorship program is for you. Global Community Sponsors are acknowledged at every official event, from official meetups to WordCamps.

As a Global Community Sponsor, you’ll be emailed when a WordCamp is put on the official schedule with information about the event’s date, number of attendees, shipping address (for swag), venue address, twitter handle and hashtag, lead organizer and sponsor wrangler contact info. Your company description and logo will be published to the site automatically when the site is launched (but won’t be visible until organizers remove the “coming soon!” screen).

Billed based on attendance, awarded based on need

Sponsorship levels are based on projected attendance at official community events for 2015. Sponsorship fees will be static and billed quarterly. Companies can begin sponsorship in the middle of the calendar year, if desired.

To help foster community growth, we’ll be awarding block sponsorship grants to WordPress community events based on need, not on attendance. We’ll provide more financial support to communities that are just getting started and less to communities that already have stable, longterm relationships with local sponsors. All official WordPress events will be expected to acknowledge the Global Community Sponsors in their region.

These sponsorship packages exclude WordCamp USA (or whatever we end up calling it) and WordCamp Europe 2015.

2015 sponsorship table

Outstanding Community Sponsorship Acknowledgement:

  • Acknowledgment on sponsor page on WordCamp Central
  • Announcement as a Global Community Sponsor on WordCamp Central blog
  • Acknowledgment on all WordPress chapter account meetups/user groups as a Global Community Sponsor
  • Name, logo, and company description/blurb on WordCamp Website
  • Dedicated tweet announcing your sponsorship from WordCamp Central for each WordCamp
  • Inclusion in a blog post thanking all WordCamp sponsors for each WordCamp
  • Your stuff added to each WordCamp’s “swag table,” if available (subject to approval)
  • Table for meeting attendees if space is available*
  • Reserved tickets for company representatives**
  • Thank you to sponsors in opening and closing remarks of each WordCamp and logo on any printed programs and any between-session slideshows

Superb Community Sponsorship Acknowledgement:

  • Acknowledgment on sponsor page on WordCamp Central
  • Announcement as a Global Community Sponsor on WordCamp Central
  • Acknowledgment on all WordPress chapter account meetups/user groups as a Global Community Sponsor
  • Name, logo, and company description/blurb on WordCamp Website
  • Dedicated tweet announcing your sponsorship from WordCamp Central for each WordCamp
  • Inclusion in a blog post thanking all WordCamp sponsors for each WordCamp
  • Your stuff added to each WordCamp’s “swag table,” if available (subject to approval)
  • Reserved tickets for company representatives**

Splendid Community Sponsorship Acknowledgement:

  • Acknowledgment on sponsor page on WordCamp Central
  • Acknowledgment on all WordPress chapter account meetups/user groups as a Global Community Sponsor
  • Announcement as a Global Community Sponsor on WordCamp Central
  • Name, logo, and company description/blurb on WordCamp websites
  • Inclusion in a blog post thanking all WordCamp sponsors for each WordCamp
  • Your stuff added to each WordCamp’s “swag table,” if available (subject to approval)

*Not all WordCamp venues will have space to provide tables to sponsors, but if the venue has enough space to accommodate sponsor tables, then community sponsors will have first crack at exhibition space. In your notification email, you’ll be informed whether or not the venue has exhibition space so you can request a table right away.

**Reserved tickets will return to the general ticket pool if they are not claimed one month before WordCamp. Reserved tickets should not be used for ticket giveaways; these are only for your company representatives who wish to attend the event. Number of reserved tickets will vary based on the size of the event and capacity of the venue.

Sponsoring individual events:

Most official events post a Call for Sponsors early in the planning cycle. If the official group or event has not posted that it’s seeking sponsors, emailing the organizers to find out what kind of help they need is a great way to find out ways to support the event or group. In-kind sponsorship (providing event organizers with something that they were planning to pay for) is a great way to support events, but please don’t ask for credit as an in-kind sponsor in return for paying an employee to help organize an event or for providing something for the event organizers to give away to attendees on your behalf.

Sponsor Acknowledgement:

Sponsors are acknowledged in different ways for different events, and we’ll work with you to make sure you have clear expectations. We’ll always do our best to acknowledge sponsors in a way that is appropriate to the event but still demonstrates our gratitude for your support.

Sponsors might be recognized or acknowledged in the event listing, website, with a verbal thank you at the event, or via a mention from the official event Twitter account. We don’t put sponsor logos on official event swag. Sponsorship is in no way connected to the opportunity to speak at an official WordPress event, and organizers will not provide sponsors access to attendee information.  Please don’t skip reading The Legal Stuff, as that section applies to sponsoring any official event.

The Legal Stuff:

Official WordPress events are backed by the WordPress Foundation (a US non-profit) as their legal (and usually financial) entity, and so the relationship between events and sponsors is subject to some restrictions from the IRS.

WordPress Foundation is grateful for the valuable support sponsors provide to official WordPress events. For tax-related reasons, we ask our sponsors to observe certain practices in presenting themselves and their products and services at official events.

1. Sponsors may provide:

  • The sponsor’s name and logo
  • Slogans that are an established part of the sponsor’s image
  • The sponsor’s brands and trade names
  • Sponsor contact information (such as telephone numbers, email addresses, and home page URLs)
  • Factual (value-neutral) displays of actual products
  • Displays or handout materials (such as brochures) with factual, value-neutral, non-comparative/non-qualitative descriptions or listings of products or services

2. Sponsors may not provide:

  • Promotional or marketing material containing qualitative, comparative, or non-neutral messages about the Sponsor, its products or services (such as “the first name in WordPress hosting”, “award-winning”, or “the best e-commerce plugin”)
  • Qualitative or comparative language, price information, or other indications of savings or value
  • Inducements to purchase or use the Sponsor’s products or services (for example, by handing out coupons or discount purchase codes)
  • Calls to action (“visit this site for details”, “call now for a special offer”, “go to”, “join our league of savings”, etc.)
  • Claims that WordPress Foundation, WordCamps, or WordCamp organizers endorse or favor a Sponsor or its products or services

3. Sponsors agree that the Foundation and WordCamp organizers have the right to request and review sponsor materials in advance of an event, to require changes to any materials in advance, and to require that any materials that do not meet the above expectations be taken down or that any practices that do not meet the above expectations be discontinued during a WordCamp or event. The above restrictions also apply to material placed on any self-serve swag tables reserved for sponsor use.

4. All sponsors are expected to support the WordPress project and its principles, including:

  • No discrimination on the basis of economic or social status, race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, age, or disability.
  • No incitement to violence or promotion of hate
  • No spammers
  • No jerks
  • Respect the WordPress trademark.
  • Embrace the WordPress license; If distributing WordPress-derivative works (themes, plugins, WP distros), any person or business officially associated with WordCamp should give their users the same freedoms that WordPress itself provides: 100% GPL or compatible, the same guidelines we follow on WordPress.org.
  • Don’t promote companies or people that violate the trademark or distribute WordPress derivative works which aren’t 100% GPL compatible.

5. Sponsorship is in no way connected to the opportunity to speak at an official WordPress event and does not alter the WordPress or WordCamp trademark usage policy found at http://wordpressfoundation.org/. WordPress Foundation reserves the right to modify the above requirements and expectations at any time by providing written notice to the sponsor.

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