New local corporate sponsorship initiative helps WGBH educate major donors and fund its mission

The Problem: The WGBH Educational Foundation is Boston’s PBS member station. As an educational foundation, WGBH creates premier educational content for both broadcast on its two stations — WGBH and WGBX — as well as numerous non-broadcast educational initiatives. “Unfortunately, our prospective sponsors are not aware of the non-broadcast projects and we felt we were missing an opportunity for them to align with great content for the K – 12 audience beyond broadcast,” says Nancy Dieterich, the Managing Director of Local Corporate Sponsorship at WGBH.

“This lack of awareness became more apparent when WGBH’s President and CEO Jon Abbott spoke about several upcoming non-broadcast educational initiatives at a meeting of WGBH’s local corporate board, the Corporate Executive Council,” says Dieterich. “The depth and breadth of these non-broadcast projects was news to many of the board members.”

As a result, Dieterich and her team realized there was an opportunity to address this lack of knowledge which could potentially lead to a significant source of funding. “We wanted to find a way to encourage people to see beyond broadcast and build awareness of a variety of non-broadcast education projects they would be proud to be associated with — and proud to support,” Dieterich says.

The Solution: WGBH created and branded a new initiative called the Commonwealth Champions of Education (CCE). The goal is to secure local corporate sponsorship to help WGBH create engaging educational content that uses the power of mass media to help children (and the adults in their lives) achieve their highest potential. The non-broadcast projects are grouped into three categories: early childhood learning, social and emotional learning and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math).

Some of the non-broadcast projects included in the proposal are PBS LearningMedia, WGBH First Eight Labs, the Arthur Interactive Media Buddy ProjectDesign Squad Global, and the NASA funded Bringing the Universe to America’s Classrooms five-year project to develop teaching models and digital media tools for STEM that are free through PBS LearningMedia. The revenue is unrestricted and sponsors would receive an on-air TV schedule in PBS KIDS and prime ROS that showcases and brands them as WGBH’s “Champions of Education.”

The CCE sponsorship deck was presented to the Corporate Executive Council for their review and guidance in the spring. The staff incorporated their feedback for the final proposal. Following the meeting, Dieterich began presenting CCE as a new sponsorship opportunity. She met one-on-one with potential sponsors, focusing on corporations who might be looking for opportunities beyond traditional, transactional styles of marketing—and whose priorities included supporting educational efforts. Dieterich packaged CCE as a unique branding opportunity that would enable a company to showcase their commitment to education.

WGBH’s Local Corporate Sponsorship team is branding the CCE concept and plan a series of digital ads about the CCE, inclusion in the local corporate sponsorship enewletter as a sponsorship opportunity, print ads in ‘GBH’s member magazine, and counter or window signage that CCE sponsors can display at their places of business. Social media elements are also being developed to accompany the broadcast messaging this fall. “To date, we have four sponsors that have signed on. Once the CCE is better branded, I believe we will have more success securing funders as there will be more awareness of the CCE as a unique sponsorship opportunity,” says Dieterich.

“The CCE concept is a way to educate donors about the WGBH’s educational mission while enlisting their support to help fulfill it. We know from research that our listeners, viewers, and members want to support our sponsors because they support ‘GBH’s mission,” she says. “When we can connect all those dots with the sponsor—including WGBH as a piece of their marketing plan—it’s almost easy!”