Driving Change: Cause Sponsorship Insights for 2024
- January 16, 2024
- SponsorPulse Staff
The Canadian philanthropic space faces escalating needs. As we settle into the new year, it becomes harder to avoid the stark reality that charitable organizations nationwide are stretched thin—contending with tighter budgets, a decline in volunteerism, and rising employee burnout.
Yet, light exists at the end of the tunnel. In a landscape where societal engagement fluctuates, the power of aligning brands with charitable causes is undergoing a transformative resurgence. Read on as we leverage our robust dataset to illuminate these intriguing shifts in the Canadian market, and ultimately make the case for cause marketing partnerships.
Happening Now: The State of Canadian Giving
At SponsorPulse, we closely track over 40 cause categories, 60 charities, and dozens of purpose-driven initiatives with our consumer-base to determine how they behave and react to brands embracing cause marketing. Here’s what we found:
2023 witnessed a slight decline, -4% annually, in Canadians donating their money to charity. While there's a commendable upswing of +3% in volunteering activities among Canadians, the data depicts a steady -8% decline in overall charity engagement, paralleled by a shift in the average number of charities individuals connect with—from 1.7 down to 1.3. Simply put: This decline in traditional engagement signals a call for brands to strategically position themselves within the cause space.
Dismantling the Double Standards
Why do some organizations receive flack for their attempts to engage in cause marketing, and others acclaim? It’s an unfortunate reality that nonprofits face unjust criticism for investing in marketing and advertising initiatives, while for-profit entities revel in embracing and celebrating these practices.
Despite potential disparities in marketing metrics compared to brands, causes offer a gamut of benefits to their partners. With a resounding 79% of consumers believing that brands possess the resources to drive meaningful change in the causes they care about—the potential for a unique alliance between causes and brands is evident.
Food Security Rises in Relevancy
Sitting atop the list of relevant causes in Canada? Food security—a cause that 45% of Canadians have engaged with over the past year. In fact, food security boasts a sizable +16% average engagement result across all cause categories. The need? Well, let’s start by considering the fact that there were nearly 2M visits to food banks across Canada this past March. That’s a 78.5% surge compared to March 2019—the highest year-over-year increase in usage ever reported.
Fortunately, brands are stepping up to the challenge of tackling these pressing issues facing the nation. Maple Leaf Foods, for example, has committed more than $10.5M to 27 projects across Canada that apply innovative approaches to increase access to good food and reduce food insecurity. Furthermore, the brand powered an Indigenous harvester program with MakeWay Foundation that seeks to capture that impact of full-time hunters, supporting how their work increases access to highly nutritious and culturally appropriate foods in Northern communities.
Targeting Diverse Demographics
It’s no secret that Gen Z has a soft spot for purpose-driven branding. For instance, among 13-18 year-olds, mental health initiatives resonate closely behind food security causes, at 42% engaged. Brands like Bell, spearheading their yearly #BellLet’sTalk campaign, collaborates with organizations like Kids Help Phone, exemplifying the efficacy of targeted partnerships. As for causes gaining momentum among the cohort? Black Lives Matter is steadily rising at 23%, the Terry Fox Foundation at 22%, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation at 21%.
With respect to their older siblings? Promisingly, the 19 to 24-year-old cohort emerges as the most engaged subset, offering a ripe opportunity for brands to mobilize and cultivate strategic engagements among Gen Z.
Synergy between Sports and Causes
Sports are a power player when it comes to sponsorship marketing, with properties having the ability to promise mass engagement through broadcast, digital and social content.
Our data denotes that sports enthusiasts prove 1.3 times more likely to engage with cause movements than the general population. Instances like the NHL's 'Hockey Fights Cancer' or RBC's 'Training Ground' underscore the market's adaptation in resonating with fans through impactful causes. Moreover, the recent partnership between the Canadian Football League and World Vision underscores the innovative synergy that sports and causes can co-create.
Access our Cause Marketing & Sponsorship Report
So where does this leave us? It’s clear that the landscape of charity sponsorship for 2024 is ripe with promising prospects for brands willing to forge meaningful and impactful partnerships with relevant causes. At the end of the day, brands have a powerful opportunity to not only drive ROI, but forge tangible social change while doing so.