Spotlight: FSSSP Sponsorship Program
Did you know that our CSO is an organization of not only individual and family members…. but also of civic and business entities in and around the greater Ocala community? Well, we are happy to report to you that our FSSSP Sponsorship Program is alive and growing and providing a much needed channel for their active participation and support of our State Park. Leading the growth and management of our Sponsorship Program is Friend and Board Secretary, Marianne Marcoux. We interviewed Marianne to learn more about the Sponsorship Program and its importance to our CSO:
Marianne, can you give us a brief overview of our CSO’s Sponsorship program…..how/why it came to be, what it is, and the current level of involvement?
I believe things got started as a result of the work done to launch our Critter Trail Race. Barbara Schwartz, along with Jane Kaufman and Kathy Bailey who were at the helm of the event for five years, set out to recruit sponsors each year to help cover some of the costs of the race. Individuals and businesses came forward – some with in-kind donations of food, bags, and prizes for the runners. Then, in the spring of 2018, the Membership Committee tasked Sally Kellogg, Candy Taggart, and me to jumpstart a sponsorship program that would solicit, recruit, and recognize sponsors. In my zeal to see the 5K Run take place again in 2019, I agreed to take over Barb’s duties, and along with Michael Cooper, we doubled the amount of sponsorship money and increased the number of sponsors. The event was profitable because of our sponsors’ support.
The Sponsorship Program has become a way for businesses and other organizations to formally show their support of our Park by helping our CSO achieve its fundraising and project goals. We, in turn, provide them with recognition and an ongoing linkage to the Park. Since 2018, we've counted some 36 sponsors, many of whom are generous enough to renew their sponsorship each year. Several of our Friends have even upgraded their memberships to become sponsors. Levels include Bronze at $150, Silver at $300, Gold at $500, and Platinum at $1000. Benefits include a family membership, complimentary Glass Bottom Boat tickets and Park passes, the sponsor's name on a plaque displayed in the Welcome Center, names and logos on our website, and on promotional items.
What do you think motivates individuals or organizations to decide to become FSSSP sponsors?
The big draw is the tangible vehicle it gives them for supporting such an iconic treasure. Sometimes it’s simply a way to make a difference in their community, to give back, or to celebrate their own memories and personal experiences with Silver Springs State Park. Some of our projects and events are really marketable and appeal to different folks for different reasons: the construction of the All-Accessible Glass Bottom Boat with its wider aisles and assistive listening system to allow patrons with different abilities, the opportunity to enjoy the river; or A Day at the Park which will allow underserved and needy children a chance to experience the Park.
What are some of the key ways that our CSO has benefitted from our Sponsorship Program?
We’ve obviously benefitted from Sponsors’ donations, allowing us to fund our projects and events or the work of the Park and its staff. Sponsors can designate what projects they prefer to support, but most are content to let us use the money as we see fit. Also, I believe we win because the support of Sponsors lends a certain credibility and authority to our Friends organization and, as a result, increases our value and prominence in the eyes of others.
Where do you see the Sponsorship Program going in the future?
We need to expand our outreach to attract more sponsors…..to ‘toot our own horn’ in order to promote the Park. Once on board, a sponsor is yet another advocate for the Park, another voice. I’m always astonished at the number of locals who don’t know the Park is open. They figure that since it closed its doors as an attraction, it has nothing left to offer. We know differently of course.
Marianne Marcoux and Jane Kaufman discussing
race operations at 2019 FSSSP Critter Trail 5K Run/Walk.
For more info on the FSSSP Sponsorship Program, go to Sponsorship