The Difference Between a Sponsorship & a Partnership

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An athlete wearing a uniform with sponsor's logos receives flowers from a woman.
An athlete wearing a uniform with sponsor's logos receives flowers from a woman. (Image: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

In business, a sponsorship exists when one entity provides financial support to another to achieve promotional advantages. When a business gives funds to a local cause or event, for instance, it has sponsored that event. A partnership means each entity shares in the responsibilities, risks and earnings of a business arrangement. When two companies collaborate on an event or promotion, for instance, they share these commitments.

Blurred Lines Between Sponsorship and Partnership

"Sponsorship" and "partnership" are often used in the same way to describe a for-profit company's relationship to a nonprofit organization or activity. In reality, the for-profit is a sponsor in most cases because it gets no direct benefit from the financial or tangible support. However, some people refer to the business as a "partner" when it receives prominent face time and attention from its involvement. Though the relationship is still a sponsorship, for-profit companies do gain public relations benefits from supporting important causes.

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