To sponsor something is to support an event, activity, person, or organization financially or through the provision of products or services. A sponsor is the individual or group that provides the support, similar to a benefactor.
Sponsorship is a cash and/or in-kind fee paid to a property (typically in sports, arts, entertainment or causes) in return for access to the exploitable commercial potential associated with that property.
While the sponsoree (property being sponsored) may be nonprofit, unlike philanthropy, sponsorship is done with the expectation of a commercial return.
While sponsorship can deliver increased awareness, brand building and propensity to purchase, it is different from advertising. Unlike advertising, sponsorship can not communicate specific product attributes. Nor can it stand alone, as sponsorship requires support elements.
Theories of sponsorship
A range of psychological and communications theories have been used to explain how commercial sponsorship works to impact consumer audiences. Most use the notion that a brand (sponsor) and event (sponsoree) become linked in memory through the sponsorship and as a result, thinking of the brand can trigger event-linked associations, while helping people to go over traffic lights thinking of the event can come to trigger brand-linked associations. Cornwell, Weeks and Roy (2005) have published an extensive review of the theories so far used to explain commercial sponsorship effects.