Creating Lasting Community Partners & Sponsors

All of our universities exist within a community, from small and quaint to large and urban. Establishing bridges between the university and community can reap benefits for both entities, especially in parent programming.

Texas State University is a large state university with almost 40,000 students, nestled into the small community of San Marcos. Over two summer orientation seasons we surveyed parents and learned that 58% of families said they would come to San Marcos monthly to visit their student, and their interests were in local restaurants and local attractions.  

Our partnership with the San Marcos Main Street program and the San Marcos Convention and Visitors Bureau fills a need for parents and families to learn about the community, and helps support local business.  

For five years, the San Marcos Main Street program has organized and executed a Wine Walk event through downtown San Marcos during our annual fall Family Weekend. Our overall Family Weekend hosts about 1,800 attendees. The Wine Walk sells 400-500 tickets at $30 each, and is family friendly. All proceeds are collected through Main Street and used to support the program. The Parent and Family Relations program promotes this event through Family Weekend promotion. Every year the Wine Walk event has sold out, and they have many repeat participants from year to year. 

During the event those of age receive a wine glass, and minors receive a water bottle. They take their glasses to local business located along the city square, and at each stop, can try a wine tasting or non-alcoholic beverage and enjoy finger foods. They walk around the downtown square for 12-15 different stops throughout the event, shopping at local businesses. Live music and festive environment make this event a big hit! 

The San Marcos CVB sponsors a free shuttle from the downtown square to the campus student center where guests find other Family Weekend events occurring. With over 1,800 attendees at our annual Family Weekend, this allows our guests to move among multiple events on the same evening.  

In addition to our partnership with these two organizations, Tanger Outlet Mall sponsored the 700 tote bags families receive at Family Weekend check-in. Our campus bookstore, which is run independent of the university, sponsored the 2,000 Family Weekend t-shirts provided to all registered guests. Our Family Weekend logo is in the front, the bookstore logo on the back.  

By partnering with local organizations and businesses, the Family Weekend budget can stretch further and families receive more value for a ticket price we keep as low as possible. Knowing our families indicate they plan to come to visit monthly, businesses have the opportunity to gain new customers.  

If you wish to engage local organizations or business, here are some tips to get started: 

  • What are the needs of your parents and family members?
  • Who in your community can help fill that need?
  • Prepare some data points you can share with a prospective partner or sponsor (how many families do you engage with through a newsletter or social media, any assessment data that points to useful information).
  • Establish what you need help supporting. For instance, how much does a welcome tote cost for the number of people who attend Family Weekend? Have a cost in mind to make your request specific.
  • What do you plan to provide in return for the partnership/sponsorship? Not sure where to start? Ask your Advancement staff what sounds reasonable with similar donors/partners.
  • Afterwards, make time to assess the partnership with both parties. Bring any assessment or evaluation data that can support a continued sponsorship/partnership.
  • Say thank you! Donors and sponsors want to know how their partnership contributed to success.
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