Each year, the Southern region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SSARE) program provides sponsorship support for conferences, field days, workshops and other educational events organized by universities, community organizations, NGOs, mentor farmers and other ag professionals across the Southern region. The events can be regional events, as well as national events taking place in the Southern region whose main purpose is to further sustainable agriculture for the benefit of farmers, NGOs, community organizations, researchers and other ag professionals. Refer to the SSARE Sponsorship Policy Guide for more detailed information on the sponsorship process.
To be considered for sponsorship support, requests must:
- Be submitted at least 45 days in advance of the event;
- Pertain to an event within the Southern region of the U.S.;
- Serve domestic audiences (specifically farmers and/or those who serve farmers);
- Include a farmer education/outreach component, in the form of a variety of activities, such as field days, farm tours, hands-on workshops, or demonstrations;
- Relate to sustainable agriculture.
Such sponsorship seeks to support increased awareness of the SARE program, provides sustainable ag educational resources to farmers, ranchers and ag professionals across the region, provides networking opportunities, and builds partnerships between SSARE and the organizations we support. SARE sponsorship should be in support of other funding opportunities to hold the event and should not be the sole funding source.
General sponsorship support is generally considered through the review of sponsorship/exhibitor packages that are provided by event organizers. Such packages give SSARE the opportunity to provide program resources through a variety of public relations methods:
- Exhibitor space;
- Participation in the conference as a speaker or panel representative;
- Marketing opportunities;
- Inclusion of ads in conference advertising materials;
- Placement of logos on the organizer’s website and/or on conference materials.
Conference organizers may also submit a sponsorship request via the Conference Sponsorship and Budget Form. Items listed in the Conference Sponsorship and Budget Form must be allowable, justified and itemized. Any incomplete forms or budgets that do not specifically state what the funds will be used for will be returned.
According to the USDA-NIFA, the following items are allowed for general sponsorship purposes:
- General event organizing activities such as conferences, field demonstrations, farm tours and workshop sessions for event participants. The activities must be educational in nature and support sustainable agriculture. Training activities and events for Extension agents, ag professionals and mentor farmers fall under the Professional Development Program. Please contact the state ag coordinators in your respective state for more information.
- Lunches and refreshments only when the food is part of the costs of the continuity of the event. Ask yourself, “Is food necessary for continuity to achieve event goals?” Dinner is allowed only if there is a speaker or educational program during the dinner, and serves the purpose of disseminating educational or technical information. Itemize food costs.
- Travel costs, including registration, transportation, and lodging for event speakers and presenters. Itemize each travel cost for each speaker or presenter. NOTE: Per University of Georgia policy, only hotels/motels are allowable lodging establishments for reimbursement. Businesses, such as Airbnb, Vrbo, HomeAway, condos/townhomes, or similar vacation rentals are not allowable lodging services. International travel is not allowed.
- Rental of event facilities or planning spaces.
- Technical equipment rentals, such as audio visual technologies. Itemize each equipment rental cost.
- Speaker/presenter fees. Itemize fees for each speaker/presenter.
- Incidental items in support of workshops, events, conferences or meetings, such as the printing of publications or marketing materials; training material, such as books; brochures; posters/flyers; advertising. The items must be educational resources. Itemize each support item.
According to USDA-NIFA, the following items are not allowed for general sponsorship purposes:
- Travel and registration costs for event participants, such as students, farmers, NGOs, community groups or other attendees. Travel support for attendees is considered through the Professional Development Program. Contact David Redhage, Professional Development Program Manager, or the state ag coordinators in your respective state for more details.
- Incentives: Cash or cash-value items, such as gift cards or gift certificates.
- Personnel labor/salaries of the organization/institution seeking funding support.
- Promotional or giveaway items (examples: t-shirts, bags, pens, mugs, etc.). Any item that does not serve as an educational resource is not allowed.
- Breakfasts; and any meals or refreshments that are not necessary to the continuity of the event. For example, if a conference ends with a luncheon or dinner, you cannot use sponsorship funds to pay for the meal. Such activity is considered to be an entertainment cost.
- Any dinner or luncheon that supports a program that does not serve an educational purpose for the benefit of the audience. For example, award dinners or luncheons are not allowed.
- Rental or purchase of general supplies (port-o-johns, tables, chairs, tents, paper products are examples).
- Entertainment, including social activities and film screenings. This also includes the venue in which the event is being held. For example, programs or talks held at breweries, eateries or similar venues are not allowed.
Refer to the application guidelines before submitting your sponsorship support:
- Any sponsorship request up to $3,000 will be considered by the SSARE Administrative Team, and can be submitted at any time of the year. Submit your request at least 45 days in advance of your event. This provides time to make budget revisions and for University of Georgia to process payment for approved sponsorships. Requests received less than 45 days before the event will not be considered.
- Any sponsorship request greater than $3,000 must be approved by the Southern SARE Administrative Council, and must be submitted by January 1 for events ranging from March to July, or by June 1 for events ranging from August to February in a given year.
- Only ONE sponsorship per institution/organization will be considered per fiscal year. This provides the opportunity for a variety of organizations across the Southern region to be considered for sponsorship support. Southern SARE may waive this rule at its discretion depending on funding levels for a given fiscal year.
- Sponsorship must include SSARE representation at your event. This includes, but is not limited to: Website and logo presentation on all marketing materials, including websites, flyers, press releases and social media; the opportunity to exhibit; or the opportunity to be a part of the program’s agenda, such as part of a panel discussion on USDA resources, or to provide a brief presentation on the SARE program and what we offer.
- At the completion of your event, you are required to submit a brief follow-up “impact” report as to how the sponsorship helped provide sustainable ag support for your organization or for those who attended. Submit your report within 60 days of the completion of your event. The report is intended to measure the value of SSARE support in your sustainable ag efforts.
You will be notified via e-mail if your sponsorship is approved, at which time you will be asked to submit an invoice to process your sponsorship support.
DISCLAIMER: Sponsorships are contingent on annual funding availability at the time of the request. Funds are discretionary and will be awarded at the discretion of Southern SARE. Sponsorship fund availability varies year to year and is not always available. A submission of sponsorship request does not automatically indicate support acceptance. Southern SARE reserves the right to deny sponsorship funding if sponsorship guidelines, allowable budget items (including itemization and justification of budget items), or sponsorship deadlines are not met.
Published by the Southern Region of the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. Funded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Southern SARE operates under cooperative agreements with the University of Georgia, Fort Valley State University, and the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture to offer competitive grants to advance sustainable agriculture in America's Southern region. USDA is an equal opportunity employer and service provider. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.