13 Corporate Partnership Experts on The Most Important Trends in 2019

On May 14th, 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 at the inaugural Corporate Partnership Conference.

Together, we will explore the entire corporate partnership spectrum. From philanthropy to sponsorship to cause marketing…and everything in between.

Chris Baylis of The Sponsorship Collective and Brad Offman of Spire Philanthropy (the co-founders of the conference) sat down with each of these experts to ask them for their thoughts on a burning question in the corporate partnership space.

Here’s what they had to say:

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

“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, President and CEO
The Sponsorship Collective
LinkedIn Profile

“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
Chief Executive Officer

Spire Philanthropy
LinkedIn Profile

“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
Director, Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability | Deloitte Canada
Interim Global Lead, Corporate Responsibility | Deloitte Global
LinkedIn Profile

“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
Director, Sustainability and Communications
Keurig Canada
Keurig Canada LinkedIn

“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
Director, Corporate Citizenship
Volunteer Canada
LinkedIn Profile

“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
President & CEO
Imagine Canada
LinkedIn Profile

“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
Director, Business Consulting
Environics Analytics
LinkedIn Profile

“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
Kids’ Health Links Foundation

“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
Ramp Communications

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
Co-Founder & CEO
LinkedIn Profile

“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
President and CEO
Manifest Communications Inc.
LinkedIn Profile

“What fascinates me most, particularly as a researcher, is just how dynamic the world of cause related marketing is.  Every year, we see a new story emerging as to how best to engage with customers to drive both the cause and business. For example, priority causes often are tied to hot topics in the news; the way that Canadians want to engage with causes is fluid and likely also impacted by outside influences.  But what always remains the same is the prevailing truth that Canadians expect companies to support causes as well as their profits.  And the companies and causes that are most in tune with the fluidity over time will be the ones that make the greatest impacts.”

Jessica Avery
Senior Vice President

“As corporations assume an increasingly important role as agents of social change, people with lived experience must be involved in the development, implementation and evaluation of partnerships that are intended to improve their lives. This is central to creating innovative, effective social change that is authentic and therefore influential to corporate and civil society stakeholders.”

Paul Klein
Founder and CEO 

Join us 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.

Register now!