Chamber looks to award-sponsors for major fund raising
By Catherine Lackner
Corporate sponsorships, the money-making trend that created the FedEx Orange Bowl, the AT&T Bayfront Amphitheatre and the Bank of America Coconut Grove Art Festival, is coming to the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce.
When the chamber awards Edward "Tad" Foote its annual Sand in My Shoes award on Jan. 27, the accompanying gala will be an upscale, redesigned event aimed at enriching chamber coffers while paying homage to a community leader. Companies are being offered platinum, gold or silver sponsorships for $10,000, $5,000 and $3,000, that include the corporate logo on event signs, recognition in a chamber publication and seating for a table of 10. The sponsorships include parking and the event at the Wyndham Hotel Miami.
Friend sponsorships, at $250, include one seat at dinner and parking.
The goal is to enhance the event and the chamber's bottom line, said Rachel Bernard, spokesperson from the group's communications department.
"This," she said, "is a big deal."
"This event started out as a dinner, then became a luncheon. We're bringing it back as a marquee event, the signature event of the chamber," said Jose Cancela, co-chair of the host planning committee. "It'll be an opportunity to do some heavy lifting on the fund-raising front and for everyone to have a great time."
"If one were to look at fund-raising events around this community," said Philip F. Blumberg, chamber chairman, "it's obvious that our chamber members and leadership are the people who support those non-chamber events. It's only appropriate that the chamber plan such an event for its own members."
The award is presented to a Miamian who, says chamber President Bill Cullom, "best demonstrates an unequaled love and commitment to South Florida as a place to live and work."
Dr. Foote is being honored as he prepares to step aside as University of Miami's president and become chancellor, a job that has yet to be publicly defined. His replacement is Donna Shalala, coming to UM in June after serving eight years in President Clinton's cabinet.
The Sand in My Shoes award was traditionally given in August and, Mr. Blumberg said, "it was a very successful event even in that difficult month. We're moving it into January, 'the season,' and giving small- and large-business people, who socialize together anyway, a chance to get together."
The event falls six months before the chamber's June goals conference.
"It meshes well," Mr. Blumberg said, because the goals conference is the only other event geared to the entire chamber membership.
Profits, after costs of the event are covered, will be used for capital needs such as computers and other necessities, Mr. Blumberg said.
"We're one of the five largest metropolitan chambers in the US. Only once before have we had a fundraiser for capital needs," he said. "We're not some huge profit-making corporation."
Having a special fund will preserve the annual budget, he said.
"The chamber has a huge investment, for instance, in One Community One Goal and that has come out of our annual budget. We need to have an ongoing source of funds for projects."
The chamber hopes to sell five platinum, 12 gold and 30 silver sponsorships, Ms. Bernard said.
"Preliminary numbers indicate that this is going to be tremendously successful. Usually, when one begins something like this, it takes years to take hold. But we've hit the ground running," Mr. Blumberg said.
"We're just starting this," Mr. Cancela said. "We want to see how far we can push the envelope."
Details: Ivette Canales, (305) 577-5425.