Recap | Strategies to bridge the gap between cause and marketing

publication date: Jul 30, 2019
author/source: Chris Baylis, recapped by Ann Rosenfield

"Corporate partnerships are a discipline. We have to look at it, address it as a discipline" says Chris Baylis. In fact, Baylis notes that cause sponsorship is arguably the most transactional approach to corporate partnerships. He adds that "transactional," however, does not mean "simple." Baylis is quick to point out that transactional certainly does not mean that sponsorship starts and ends with logo placement and photo opportunities with an oversized cheque.

Key to success in cause sponsorship is understanding that it is a unique, stand-alone discipline. As a result, you must measure it as a marketing discipline. Baylis notes that sponsorship is not philanthropy + logo. Viewing it as a form of philanthropy is going to head your program in the wrong direction because cause partnerships are based on business decisions. Importantly, sponsorship is defined as cash paid for exploitable potential commercial associated with that property.

Increasingly, sponsors don't want everyone, they want the right people for their product or brand. This means that "The riches are in the niches" says Baylis. This also means that sponsorship is highly systematic. Sponsorship is highly process-based.

 To reach your potential in sponsorship with a given partner, you need to have answers to three questions:

  1. Who is our shared audience
  2. What action do we want them to take?
  3. How will we measure success?

Baylis states that "As someone pitching 'My job is to make sure you beg me to work together again.'" This means that the best sponsorship campaigns are overtly focused on marketing, sales and experiences. Baylis adds "Every meeting has to start with pure discovery. We, as part of this discipline have to have open and honest discussions, including admitting if you can't deliver."

At its best, sponsorship offers a way for brands, causes and their shared audiences to connect in meaningful ways. In fact, sponsorship is a $2 billion per year industry in Canada. Futhermore, the market is a growing one. Both charities and brands need to understand the vast potential of this space as well and making sure that the partnership works well for both partners.

Sponsorship is a huge opportunity for charities and brands. When done well, corporate partnerships can be of great value to both parties.


Chris Baylis is an expert on best practices for charities and brands to engage their audiences, move past simple logo placement and help you take part in one of the fastest growing forms of marketing in Canada.

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