Diving Into The Intersector Toolkit: Recruit a Powerful Sponsor or Champion

blogimage_SponsorChampionWe recently updated our Toolkit for Intersector Collaboration to provide even more useful advice to practitioners involved in cross-sector collaborations. We’re profiling each of our 17 tools on our blog, with a focus on resources that can help collaborations succeed.

Cross-sector collaborations can often benefit from engaging an influential individual or organization to help achieve their objectives. Well-respected, powerful individuals or organizations can provide access to resources, lend legitimacy and prestige, and attract public attention to a collaboration.

Sponsors and champions are distinct roles, each bringing unique benefits to a collaboration. Sponsors, while not usually involved in the day-to-day operations of the collaboration, provide prestige, access to networks, convening power, and can mobilize financial and non-financial resources to support the collaboration. The collaboration may enlist a sponsor to build perceptions of legitimacy and prestige, to develop relationships with constituencies or stakeholders that are key to the collaboration’s goals, or to gain access to additional financial and/or non-financial resources. Champions, who often are involved in the day-to-day operations of the collaboration, typically offer expertise on the issue targeted by the collaboration and/or processes that are critical to the collaboration’s effort. The collaboration may enlist a champion to provide needed expertise, increasing perceptions of credibility among partners and external stakeholders.

Partners in the early partnership phases can use Tool 2: Stakeholder Mapping, on p. 43 of “The Partnering Toolbook” from The Partnering Initiative, to identify and map collaboration stakeholders according to their interest in and influence over partnership objectives. This provides a useful framework for distinguishing the roles that various stakeholders can take in the collaboration and can easily be adapted for identifying sponsors and champions — who ideally have both high levels of influence and interest in the collaboration’s work.

Involving Key Influentials in the Work” from the Community Tool Box provides guidance and activities to assist collaboration partners in identifying and approaching influential sponsors or champions, or, in their words, “people in your community whose opinions are respected, whose insights are valued, and whose support is almost always needed to make any big changes.” The resource notes that key influentials could be “a formal leader, such as a city commissioner or a well-respected minister, but may also be someone whom people in the community look up to and respect, like the owner of a well-loved local restaurant or a young mother whose activism has earned the trust of the people in her neighborhood.”

See Recruit a Powerful Sponsor or Champion in our Toolkit for further discussion on this topic, questions to guide tool use, and more.

Explore the full Toolkit and each of the 17 tools with enhanced discussion, questions to guide tool use, and additional resources here.