New Study Shows 'Thon' Programs Offer Powerful Benefits for Corporate Sponsors
Of the top 25 properties that created strong emotional connections with sponsors, 24 were charities
Demonstrating value and return on investment when working with corporate sponsors typically relies upon measurements like event attendance, viewership and overall awareness. But a new Canadian study, Canada’s Most Valuable Property, conducted by Ipsos Reid and TrojanOne, identified seven key drivers of consumer sponsorship equity, which for the first time provides a way to measure the emotional connection a sponsor can create with consumers.
The Canadian Cancer Society and its signature fundraising event, Relay For Life, were identified as Canada’s “MVP” achieving strong scores across six of the seven key drivers of value.
Based on the research, other participatory events like walks, runs, relays and rides are well-suited to leverage the three most important drivers to demonstrate their value to corporate sponsors:
• Personal Involvement – Participants connect to the event and the sponsor on a personal level. Participation in the event may have touched them in some way, improved their lives or led them to change behavior.
• Creating the Moment – The event adds enjoyment and passion to their lives, helping create lasting memories and connect with others.
• Impact on the Cause – Participants trusting the organization to use their contributions of money, time and energy to have a real impact on making their community, or the world, a better place.
However, effectively demonstrating success with the other four drivers can be more challenging for those in the endurance event industry:
• Sponsor Fit – Showing a clear and logical fit between your organization and a corporate sponsor.
• Responsible Management – Ensuring that your organization has the appropriate governance and is not overly commercial.
• Heritage – Demonstrating that your event and organization have a solid history and promising future, which can be more challenging for new initiatives
• Uniqueness – Standing out from the crowd to differentiate your organization and your event.
Run Walk Ride Fundraising Council recently caught up with Jordan Levitin, Senior Vice President at Ipsos Reid, to discuss how the research findings are useful for organizations that want to increase their corporate sponsorship dollars and deepen relationships with corporate sponsors.
What was the impetus for this study?
The Canadian Sponsorship Landscape Study provides the most comprehensive information on the scope, scale and trends of Canada’s sponsorship industry, including industry size, spending by sector, activation trends, evaluation practices, strategic priorities and future outlook. But it turns out that only 45 percent of Canadian sponsors are satisfied with their efforts. It became apparent that sponsors were evaluating their efforts using ‘hard measures’ like awareness, viewership and attendance, but not understanding what impact sponsorship was having on their strategy. It was clear that the industry needed a way to measure the emotional connection that sponsors need to understand if they are truly connecting with their target audience through the sponsorship—if they are sharing some of the “love” consumers feel for the property.
What were your key findings?
Our research identified seven key drivers that measure emotional connection and thus that make a property valuable to Canadians. The organizations that scored well have found a way to trigger three or more of the drivers. The drivers, in descending order of importance, are:
1. Personal Involvement - Connecting to the property on a personal level. It may have touched them in some way, improved their lives or led them to change behavior.
2. Creating the Moment - Adding enjoyment and passion to their lives, helping Canadians create lasting memories and connect with others.
3. Impact on the Cause - Trusting the property to use their contributions of money, time and energy to have a real impact on making their community, or the world, a better place.
4. Sponsor Fit - Seeing a clear and logical fit between a property and sponsors who are true champions for the property, who ensure that it happens and that Canadians have access.
5. Responsible Management - A property has the appropriate governance and is not overly commercial.
6. Heritage - The property has a solid history and promising future. It helps define what it is to be Canadian.
7. Uniqueness - It is the only organization/event that does what it does.
Did any of the findings surprise you?
I was surprised to see a disconnect in where sponsorship money goes and true emotional connection. For example, many Canadian sponsors spend money supporting sports teams, but those teams don’t necessarily create strong emotional connections. Of the top 25 properties that created strong emotional connections with sponsors, 24 were charities. It is interesting to see that connections are created around issues and causes that people care about as opposed to where people spend their time [attending or watch sports events].
What advice do you have for organizations looking to deepen their relationship with corporate sponsors?
To help sponsors build a more meaningful emotional connection with the public, it is important to find ways for sponsors to demonstrate that they are truly invested in your cause – to show that they are more than just a logo at your event. For example, as part of their sponsorship of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation’s Run for the Cure, CIBC branch employees wear pink ribbons and play a visible role volunteering at the event.
Organizations also have an opportunity to demonstrate broad reach – regionally or nationally – to attract corporate sponsors. While participation in events is inherently local, framing sponsorship opportunities in a broader context can help spur more impact, which presents more opportunities for sponsors to create an emotional connection with your participants.
What new trends are you seeing in the world of sponsorship in Canada?
There are some newer efforts which are effectively capitalizing on their uniqueness. For example, Movember encourages men to grow moustaches to raise vital funds and awareness for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer and other cancers that affect men. Movember broke new ground not only with their activity, but also for, for the first time, collectivizing men’s health issues. They have cultivated a strong sense of personal involvement, but now need to find a way to create a moment and strengthen their brand heritage to cultivate visibility among sponsors.
How was the study conducted?
The Most Valuable Property study evaluated 100 properties through a survey of 1,016 Canadian consumers. The study created a ‘value index’ designed to pick up impact on sales, shared goodwill equity and enhanced image. Learn More