Using the art of storytelling to attract sponsors and avert a financial crisis


For over 20 years, City Club of Eugene has been a place where citizens of Eugene, Oregon are invited to participate in civic discourse to promote engagement with local issues and community affairs. Their forums have been attended by thousands and are broadcasted weekly on KLCC. At a time where civil discourse all-too-often gives way to political chaos, the work of City Club could not be more important.

Unfortunately City Club of Eugene has also been threatened by a financial crisis. One of their biggest sources of revenue in the past has been sponsorships, but many sponsoring organizations chose not to renew their support while the new executive director has had difficulty attracting new sponsors.

A City Club of Eugene Meeting

A City Club of Eugene Meeting


After a conversation with City Club of Eugene's leadership, I discovered that the organization lacked the power of storytelling when it approached local businesses and groups in search of support. Oftentimes, the sponsorship was seen by both parties as City Club looking for a donation, without much focus on what City Club had to offer a sponsor in return.

Working with a team, I was able to reframe City Club's approach to seeking sponsors. The organizations it approached already had a goal– to reach out to the community and attract customers. If City Club could position itself as a promising means of accomplishing that goal, sponsoring the organization would seem like a no brainer! And in fact, with regular attendees and radio broadcasts, City Club had the sort of audience many businesses were looking for.

All we had to do now was to make this clear.

City Club of Eugene's homepage

City Club of Eugene's homepage


After a couple weeks of strategic planning, brainstorming, and writing, we were able to present to City Club of Eugene a whole new approach to sponsorships- one that focused on storytelling.

Among the items we delivered to City Club's leadership were a brief guide on how to apply storytelling principles, suggested internal protocols on how to affirm the value of a sponsorship to a partner organization, recommendations as to how to incorporate sponsor promotion into social media posts, and a sponsor-promoting script to be read at the start of community forums and radio broadcasts.

The reception by City Club of Eugene's leadership was enthusiastic and optimistic about being able to overcome their financial situation. As of our last follow up, the executive director mentioned that the outlook was positive for the next year-and-a-half, at least.

In every story, a character has a goal and is called to action in pursuit of that goal.

In this particular story, Eugene businesses have a goal of reaching audiences, and now City Club could call them to take action by becoming club sponsors.

Four of City Club of Eugene's biggest sponsors

Four of City Club of Eugene's biggest sponsors

Philippe Lazaro