2016 Global Sponsorship

tl;dr — new leaders, new payment system, new $ levels, new regions, new names, sponsor feelings, local levels, weigh in

Oversight

For 2016, @andreamiddleton and @kcristiano will be working together to oversee the program. Andrea’s familiarity and relationships with the sponsors combined with Kevin’s financial background will be a good combination, and having two people in charge of an area of responsibility rather than one builds in a bit of a failsafe if things get behind. This will mean that Kevin will be less involved in day-to-day WC oversight/mentoring. While there are other people who have access to the bank account, paypal, etc and have interacted with these sponsors before, only Andrea and Kevin will be managing these relationships, sending invoices, or attributing payments in 2016, to prevent the oversights that led to missing money in past years. Side note: Kevin will also be creating a new budget template for us to use that will be better for tracking estimates vs final prices vs money actually collected or spent. Keep an eye out for news on that from him early next year.

Automation

In 2016 we’ll be switching to an automated QuickBooks-based system for sending invoices and having global sponsors pay electronically right from the online invoice, saving time and money on our end. What, you say? Automatic invoicing and online payment? That sounds awesome and time saving? Why yes, yes it does. Our first big development project in 2016 will be to add invoice requests to the payments pluginPlugin A plugin is a piece of software containing a group of functions that can be added to a WordPress website. They can extend functionality or add new features to your WordPress websites. WordPress plugins are written in the PHP programming language and integrate seamlessly with WordPress. These can be free in the WordPress.org Plugin Directory https://wordpress.org/plugins/ or can be cost-based plugin from a third-party so that there will be a central system for managing local sponsors as well, reducing the number of places organizers have to track sponsor income and reducing the possibility of sponsors who haven’t paid yet going unnoticed. We’ll talk more about this as we scope it out.

Levels and Regions (Proposed)

Last but not least, 2016 global sponsor levels. Andrea, Kevin, and I discussed possible changes to the program and levels last week. One change we want to make is regions. Last year it was split out into a bunch of distinct regions, but the big ones were US and Europe because of the number of WordCamps. Of the regions with fewer WCs — Canada, Asia/Pacifica, Central & South America, and Africa — only Canada had a sponsor that had chosen just that region. To make things simpler, this year we want to split things into just two regions: Western and Eastern Hemispheres.
If we combine last year’s regions into the 2-hemisphere model, 2015 levels looked like this:

Level Western (The Americas) Eastern (Europe, Asia Pacific, Africa)
Outstanding (Gold) $198,000 $102,000
Superb (Silver) $99,000 $51,000
Splendid (Bronze) $39,600 $20,400

Another thing that came up when looking at the previous levels what because the levels had been based on overall number of attendees at events in a region, sponsors were paying the same amount of money whether it was a WordCampWordCamp WordCamps are casual, locally-organized conferences covering everything related to WordPress. They're one of the places where the WordPress community comes together to teach one another what they’ve learned throughout the year and share the joy. Learn more. of 1 day and 80 people of a WordCamp of 800 people for 3 days with sponsor booths or tables. While we love both of those kinds of WordCamps here at Community Central — and every size and shape of WordCamp in between — the costs associated with them are pretty different, as are the opportunities for sponsors to meet with community influencers, etc. To address that disparity, we’ve also changed the math from being based on number of attendees to being based on a combination of size range and number of days. Proposed new levels for 2016:

Level Western (The Americas) Eastern (Europe, Asia Pacific, Africa)
Gold $160,000 $80,000
Silver $80,000 $50,000
Bronze $45,000 $35,000

This is based on expecting to have 100 WCs in 2016 (about the same rate of growth as previous years), with a similar-ish ratio between western and eastern hemispheres. It does not include WCEU or WCUS, but I propose we offer anyone who does a worldwide sponsorship 10% off on sponsorship levels for those 2 events. Why is eastern hemisphere so much cheaper? 1. It only contained 40% of the events in 2015, and 2. Those events tended to be smaller, shorter, or both.

Compared to last year, this new math makes global sponsorship significantly cheaper at the top level, about the same at the middle level, and a little more expensive at the bottom level, but with more events in play.

Names

I propose we change the level names. I proposed this the last time too, when I suggested that champion, pillar etc didn’t really indicate a hierarchy of levels because they were disparate things. The replacements, however, are still a problem IMO. To most people, outstanding, superb, and splendid all mean more or less the same superlative thing, which makes them not good labels (talking as a ux person now). If you dig down into official meanings, superb means excellent or first-rate, but it is the 2nd level. Splendid means luxurious or expensive, but it’s the cheapest level. Outstanding means superior or excellent, but not necessarily the best. I suggest we go back to the classic gold, silver, and bronze. The hierarchy of Olympic medals is known around the world, and we can leave clever sponsor level names to the local organizing teams. Which leads us to local levels. 🙂

Blending In and Feeling Valued

Some of the complaints from global sponsors make it clear that the program increased efficiency (one bill, all WordCamps) at the expense of feeling a connection to organizers and/or feeling as valued as local sponsors. This was especially true of WordCamps that were breaking out the global sponsors into separate categories rather than integrating them with their local levels (and in some cases listing the globals below the bottom local level). In 2016, we’ll want to make sure organizers integrate global sponsors into their overall sponsor listing. We’d need a good way to designate global sponsors without listing them separately (the dreaded asterisk? a gold/silver/bronze ribbon? we can figure something out I bet, there are a lot of creative people who have an interest in this). We also need to set up a way to give the globals a connection to organizers and/or sponsor wranglers, whether that’s having automated introduction emails that suggest a hangout to “meet” or something else. We can talk more about this after WCUS.

Local Sponsorships

When you sit around copying the budget levels for every WC in the past year out of their individual budget spreadsheets (like Andrea) or you sit around doing a couple of hours of calculations with them on your phone’s calculator (like me), you quickly notice something about the variation between sponsor levels. With a few notable exceptions for big expensive cities (like NYC), most of the sponsor levels are *really* similar once you adjust for size of event and number of days. As we think about ways to streamline the deputy workflow and the organizer setup process, I think we should consider standardizing WC sponsorship levels based on these criteria. This would mean that when a WC was approved based on dates and estimated attendance based on venue, the sponsor levels would be automatically set and published. This would cut out the back and forth about how much the levels should be, saving everyone some time, and the local organizer could spend that time instead coming up with those locally-flavored level names so many people love and jazzing up the level descriptions. If we chose to adopt this model, we would want to allow organizers to add additional lower levels as desired to bring in small local businesses and microsponsors if they want to. And for that handful of big expensive cities, we’d have to figure out if it would make more sense to add a higher level or for us to just make up any difference from the common fund. We can discuss this one in more depth after WCUS as well, just wanted to plant the idea since this post is already talking about sponsors.

What do you think about the hemispheres concept? The dollar levels? The change to basing it on size and duration of WCs rather than just attendance? Weigh in in the comments!

#global-sponsorship, #sponsorship, #wordcamps