2011Q3 Reports: Sponsorship Committee

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Sponsorship Committee Report (6/9/2011)

Members:

Local Organization:

Brian Roark

Richard Sproat

European Region

Stephen Pullman

Massimiliano Ciaramita

Asian Region

Kevin Duh

Haifeng Wang

North American Region

Micahel Gamon

Srinivas Bangalore

List of Sponsors

AT&T

BBN Technologies

Baidu

Barefoot Wineries

Butler Hill Group

CSLU

DMICE

ETS

Google

Honda Research Institute

IBM

Microsoft

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL)

Preferred Infrastructure

Rakuten Institute of Technology

University of Washington

viaLanguage

Vlingo

Widmer

Yahoo!

Summary:


Despite the harsh economic conditions and budget restrictions in many organizations around the world, the ACL sponsorship committee has raised over $62,000 (as of this report date) thanks to the resourcefulness of the local organization committee, the innovative solutions offered by Priscilla to prospective sponsors and the outreach enabled by the globally distributed sponsorship committee members. The sponsorship committee raised support not only from the usual large companies such as Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, IBM and AT&T, but was able to reach out to smaller institutions in the northwest local region. The range of sponsorships varies from regular cash support to student best paper award and even smoothie station and alcoholic beverages during the reception and banquet.

Organizational structure:


The new plan of appointing a Sponsorship Committee with two representatives from each regional world area (Asia, North/South America and Europe/Africa) and having an overall Chair (currently Srinivas Bangalore) is working very well. While it is usually quite difficult to get sponsorships from areas of the world not hosting the conference, this year, Kevin Duh (Asia Co-Chair) has been successful in obtaining two (smaller) Supporter Level sponsorships from Japanese companies. And, we have been a bit creative in ways of enticing larger sponsorships from the old standby companies (Google, for example, has increased from their previous Silver Level).


Strategies:


As always, personal contacts and perseverance with added creativity and flexibility are needed for a successful sponsorship campaign. An example of such an effort is illustrated in Priscilla's effort to raise Google's sponsorship level to Platinum.

Google, who had been and wanted to remain at the Silver level ($4,000) as in the past are now at the Platinum level ($12,000). At first, Priscilla was suggesting Google to have an exhibit and make a visible presence but they were not interested. They suggested all but the usual $4K to go to student awards but she pointed out that we really did not have space for more than one best student paper award but they could use some portion of their monies for student travel. Then she discussed options for student travel and settled on $4K going toward a few developing country student travel awards and that Google representatives would take the students to lunch during the conference. The remainder of the donation will be used at our discretion.

In the same vain, Baidu agreed to be a Platinum Level sponsor when Priscilla offered to display a sign prominently at the poster/dinner session saying "Baidu welcomes you to the ACL HLT 2011 Poster Session".


Things that worked:

1. Personal contacts within organizations.

2. Sponsorship brochure indicating different sponsorship options.

3. The "Supporter" sponsorship plan is very attractive particularly for new potential sponsors and strikes a good balance between cost and publicity. We should continue having these kind of plans to make it easy for new sponsors to join the ACL community.

Suggestions:


1. It might be beneficial to lower the banquet sponsorship to a lower and more reasonable level, even if it were to cover only a part of the banquet costs. This might entice more sponsors to consider that package as an option.

2. In the current sponsorship booklet, there is no sponsorship level that covers poster sessions. With increasing number of ACL papers in the poster sessions, one could also package sponsoring poster sessions as a sponsor-able level.

3. There needs to be better coordination of request for sponsorship to conferences; EMNLP 2011 organizers are having a tough time raising funds given that ACL is advertised as the only major conference and companies have committed their funds to the ACL conference. EMNLP was not listed as a conference in the ACL sponsorship brochure. Perhaps a better planning could have avoided this oversight.

4. The spreadsheet information of the potential sponsorship contacts is often outdated and needs to be updated to maintain relevance and pertinence. It might be better served as a wiki-site with possible contributions from ACL membership at large, instead of being a responsibility of only the previous sponsorship committee.

5. In addition to attaching the sponsorship brochure in an email, it might be easier to point to it on a website for ease of access.

6. We should move the sponsor logos to the conference homepage (http://www.acl2011.org/) rather than a subpage (http://www.acl2011.org/sponsors.shtml). It not only advertises sponsors, but also advertises ACL as a thriving community with lots of industry support.