10 Ways to Collaborate at Your Events

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The past couple of years has been tough on small business. Often, it is the small business’ in our communities that are the ones who donate to our raffles, our trivia nights, that support our events and initiatives. This is so important to keep in mind when planning your events.

Collaborations must make sense and be of value to those getting involved and to be a good community minded organisation we must be approaching those we wish to collaborate with, from a place of ensuing the partnership is mutually beneficial.

Now more than ever it is important to be lifting our local business’ up and supporting them to get back on their feet. Get creative with your events, and think about how you might utilise them to support others along the way.

Here are 10 ways you might consider including collaborations at your next event.

Event Sponsorship

Sponsorship is a great way to raise funds early that will help to fund the outgoings of an event. Corporates, business’ and organisations sponsor events out of marketing budgets, so they are looking for advertising outcomes. Think about what you might offer to sponsors that will bring them big exposure and kudos. You should always be selective with who sponsors your event, it should be a well aligned brand that makes sense to partner with. Never sell your values for a quick buck, this will ultimately cost you much more in credibility than any money can buy. Remember there is plenty of money in the world, just find the money that is aligned with your values to ensure great outcomes. You could consider a tiered system like the one below.

Goodie Bags

Goodie bags have come a long way since the days of trashy plastic show bags filled with junk. Printed calico bags, seedlings with stickers on pots, vouchers for supporting great value aligned local business’, small gifts, artisan food supplies, chocolate treats, high quality samples of eco products. Many organisations have budgets set aside for supporting local initiatives and charities, you may be very surprised at the quality of product you can attract when you have the right pitch. Consider the hype that an awesome goodie bag can attract and the sharability value (when people get awesome things they are more likely to photograph it and share it on social media) .

To pull off an amazing goodie bag, consider this approach:
1. Start with a big lead up time, at least a year
2. Dream up the most marvellous goodie bag you can imagine. List the elements you would love to include, don’t hold back
3. Divide the companies to approach, into local and non local business
4 Draft up a letter for each of the two types of business. Include details of your organisation, your event and your vision for your extraordinary goodie bags
5. Find the right decision maker (never send requests to [email protected] emails)
6. Send an introduction email and follow up with a phone call.

Other ways to use products

Sometimes through the process of creating goodie bags or acquiring items for a raffle you get some really exceptional product donations. Now, you might use these in other ways (if agreed with the donator company). You might utilise product donations for a raffle or door prize. Be sure to maximise sharability by photographing winners, utilising hashtags and share products via social media, ensuring you tag in the company who generously donated the item. This approach allows the buzz to stretch out and your partners to receive a bit more exposure and kudos from their donation.

Product Creation Collaboration

A product collaboration is a long term partnership commitment that takes a great deal of organisation and alignment. It involves two brands with similar target markets co-creating, co-branding and co-promoting a product or service.

Assets to consider in this type of collaboration are the ability to manufacture a product or deliver a service, design skills, budgets, sales channels, leverage, and publicity opportunities. Big scale collaborations like this should be launched with a bunch of fan fair and a event is the perfect place.


Ambassadors are a great way to help you spread the word and reach a whole new audience. If it is the right ambassador, they can bring credibility or even prestige to an event.

Ambassadors attract media attention and can rally people through large social media followings. For the Aussie environmentalists out there, think about the impact and benefit of having Costa as the Ambassador for the National Landcare Conference. Now you don't need a big name like Costa but like Costa to Landcare, the partnership should make sense.

Consider who you could tap into locally to help elevate your events. The Mayor, a local business person, the local school principal, an upstanding citizen, your President, a celebrity that grew up in your area.

Stands and Stalls

Offering stands and stalls to local business and organisations is a great way to engage community into your events. It can also be a fundraiser as you may charge stall holders for the space they rent. Ask stall holders to consider how they might make their space interactive and attract attention. Having these prompts will help folks to consider their approach and to get more creative than a standard stall that folks are used to seeing.

Stands and stalls are not just for large events, markets or festivals. For smaller planting or outreach events consider how you might utilise a food truck or a single stand or stall collaboration to value add to your event. What about a massage tent for the volunteers at your next planting day….. yes please!

Wall Installation

A wall installation is a space that is created for maximum visual value. The idea is that it looks so great that people take their photo in front of it and share it on social media.

We see branded walls used a lot on red carpets or at high brand events. We can use this concept and collaborate with local artists, florists, nurseries to adapt it to our needs. Imagine collaborating with a local nursery to create a living green tent as a chill out space or a florist with a floral wall, a street artist with a graffiti wall that has the name of your event.

Be sure to have directions up somewhere that ask people to take a photo and share with a hashtag for your event. This will give you great user initiated content to share on your social media pages and give great exposure to your collaborators. Taking this content and using it in a micro level might be asking volunteers at a working bee to take a photo with their first planting of the day and share it with hashtag…. You may even offer prizes or incentives.

Services on site - Photography and Video

These days there is huge value in capturing footage and photos from your events. Consider how you might collaborate with others to ensure you can do this. Now you can ask an actual photographer or videographer, however you might also consider partnering with the local university, TAFE or High School to get students who are keen to volunteer their skills on the day for a win win situation. You get footage and photos to use for grant acquittals, documentation and marketing and they get to use them for their assignments.

The benefit of this approach is that if you can build a relationship with the teacher or department you can utilise this partnership long term and we all know partnerships get better with time.

Local Organisations

Community events are often filled with collaborations from many community organisations. Consider how you might engage the local SES, CFA, Community House into your events. They often like to have a presence at local events. Often they are happy to help out with things like car parking, traffic control and those important tasks that can be challenging to fill.

Talk to your local organisations about how they might like to be involved and what outcomes they might be looking for as this can vary greatly from town to town.

Food and Beverage

People love food and drinks at any event. Often it is one of the first things we think about and plan but we can fall into the trap of doing things the same way every time. Here a 5 innovative ways to include food and beverage into your events, what others can you think of?

Having a single food truck or food stand is better for the operator than having multiple. Consider how you might utilise exclusivity as a selling point to get the right type of food at your event.

Ask a local cafe to sponsor your AGM each year. You can give them support and exposure throughout the year and they provide food and beverages at your AGM.

Have the local Councillor sponsor food for the troops. Tap into ward funds and buy pizzas for the volunteers. Add a nice framed thank you to the serving table. To go the extra mile for the Councillor, ask people to photograph themselves eating the pizza and tag the Councillor in to say thanks.

Set a budget for your catering and put an advertisement out to the local community to take expressions of interest of those who might like the job of catering. This approach will likely bring some potential collaborators to the surface who you may not have thought of. This is a great chance to have conversations with multiple folks and see how you might work together for your upcoming events.

Partner with the local Country Women’s Association (CWA) to serve amazing scones, the best jam and gorgeous beverages. Speak with your local branch about what you may be able to offer in return that fits their needs to ensure the mutual benefit.

I hope these have been some helpful considerations for your next event! I know these hints and tips have served me well in the past.

Let me know what works well for you and what you may add to this list?

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