Eleven Corporate Partnership Experts on the Most Important Trends in the Sector

publication date: Mar 15, 2019
 | 
author/source: Brad Offman and Chris Baylis

Recently, Chris Baylis and Brad Offman sat down with each of 11 sponsorship experts to ask them for their thoughts on a burning question in the corporate partnership space -

"What is the single most important trend or change in the corporate partnership space that is impacting how charities and brands work together?"

Here’s what they had to say:

Cause-sponsorship is a marketing discipline, not an offshoot of corporate philanthropy.

“Cause-sponsorship is a marketing discipline, not an offshoot of corporate philanthropy. This is a key detail that is often missed.

The most important trend that I have seen in the last few years is an aggressive, and deliberate, shift towards audience data, ROI, experience and valuation as the basis for corporate decisions about sponsorship investing, including cause sponsorship. Using a corporate philanthropy approach to sponsorship is not recommended and rarely produces the intended result.” Chris Baylis

The nature of partnerships between charities and corporations has changed dramatically over the past decade.

“The nature of partnerships between charities and corporations has changed dramatically over the past decade. Gone are the distinct lines between community investment, sponsorship, cause marketing and employee engagements.

In order to build sustainable and meaningful partnerships, both sides must truly understand the objectives of the other. They must understand that successful relationships involved shared language and a candid exchange of ideas and objectives. Those engaged in partnership dialogue should not be afraid to ask probing questions and provide honest answers. Open and authentic conversations are the foundation of great corporate-charitable partnerships.” Brad Offman, MA, MBA, CFRE

Creating partnerships aligned on mutual benefit is the only way to build long-term, sustainable relationships with maximum community impact.

“The most important change we are seeing is the shift in the way companies and non-profits are working together with a focused effort on mutual impact and benefit, particularly in the context of corporate volunteering. Rather than put pressure on nonprofits to provide volunteer activities for hundreds or thousands of employees on one day, companies and nonprofits must look for new and more meaningful ways to work together.

We must ensure any project meets a real community need and is mission-driven, not sacrificing program integrity on both sides. Creating partnerships aligned on mutual benefit is the only way to build long-term, sustainable relationships with maximum community impact.” Sarah Chapman, PhD

In today’s world, successful corporate partnerships are rooted into collaboration and exchange and the clear desire of both parties to achieve the greatest impact possible.

“We see corporate partnerships as much more than monetary sponsorships. They are two-way relationships that support the mission and objectives of both organizations, and through which they both have a lot to learn.

In today’s world, successful corporate partnerships are rooted into collaboration and exchange and the clear desire of both parties to achieve the greatest impact possible. To be mutually beneficial, they must leverage the vast array of resources at hand, and cater to tangible needs on both ends.

Whether that be through employee engagement, the sharing of specific knowledge and skills or through communications, they should have the potential of creating value, like any other strategic business initiative.” Cynthia Shanks

More than ever employees are driving corporate-community investment.

“With 68% of Canadians preferring a workplace with a strong volunteering culture, and employees of all ages looking for a workplace with “purpose”, more than ever employees are driving corporate-community investment.” Elizabeth Dove

We have witnessed a significant shift to deeper, more intentional partnerships between companies and their community partners.

“Over the past 10 years, we have witnessed a significant shift to deeper, more intentional partnerships between companies and their community partners. With a continued focus on both community benefit and brand building, it is likely this trend will continue." Bruce MacDonald

By utilizing and understanding all the resources at your disposal, including data and analytics, it is easier to find a shared path to success.

“At the end of the day, all effective partnerships have results that benefit and elevate both charity and corporation.

By utilizing and understanding all the resources at your disposal, including data and analytics, it is easier to find a shared path to success.” Allen Davidov

With this newfound power of connection comes a new responsibility to ensure we are being mindful of privacy, security, and confidentiality.

“Technology has given us power. We have the power to expand the reach of grassroots initiatives globally, to connect more people with causes, and corporations, and to make a bigger impact than ever before.

With this newfound power of connection comes a new responsibility to ensure we are being mindful of privacy, security, and confidentiality. The most important trend I've seen is, corporations recognizing the importance of privacy and security; and charities where privacy and security are paramount, are working together to protect the data of the communities they serve.” Basile Papaevangelou

[Brands] are starting to see that social purpose has to be an authentic part of what they do.

“The biggest shift I've seen is that more organizations are realizing the true value of taking a stand for social good and articulating their social purpose as part of their brand story. More brands today understand the power of aligning with a cause that strengthens their connection to the communities they serve.

In the past, many companies have simply paid lip-service or treated social good as an add-on that has no link to the essence of their brand. Now, they are starting to see that social purpose has to be an authentic part of what they do. Consumers are becoming increasingly savvy, and with that comes an expectation that a brand stands for something more than making a profit.” Shelley Mayer

Charitable donations and short-term outputs are not enough.

“Measurable, long-term impact that benefits all partners and constituents is the name of the game. It's about aligning interest and goals and then delivering on it because consumers and employees are looking for it. Charitable donations and short-term outputs are not enough.” Phillip Haid 

[Corporations] are working harder than ever to be sure they are actually doing good.

“Leading corporations know that corporate citizenship isn’t just a tool to help them look good. They are working harder than ever to be sure they are actually doing good." Andrea Donlan

On May 14th, the Corporate Partnership Conference, brought to you by Spire Philanthropy and The Sponsorship Collective, will explore the entire corporate partnership spectrum. From philanthropy to sponsorship to cause marketing…and everything in between.

Experts from across Canada will be sharing their knowledge and best practices relating to how charities and brands work together to expand each other’s missions.

Chris Baylis is the President and CEO of The Sponsorship Collective

Sarah Chapman, PhD is the Director, Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability | Deloitte Canada and Interim Global Lead, Corporate Responsibility | Deloitte Global 

Allen Davidov is Director, Business Consulting for Environics Analytics 

Andrea Donlan is the President and CEO for Manifest Communications Inc

Elizabeth Dove is the Director, Corporate Citizenship for Volunteer Canada 

Phillip Haid is the Co-Founder & CEO of PUBLIC Inc

Bruce MacDonald is the President & CEO for Imagine Canada 

Shelley Mayer is the President of Ramp Communications

Brad Offman, MA, MBA, CFRE is the Chief Executive Officer of Spire Philanthropy

Basile Papaevangelou is with Kids’ Health Links Foundation

Cynthia Shanks is the Director, Sustainability and Communications Keurig Canada 



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