Charity partnerships used to be symbolized by a special game-day or event where your chosen partner was permitted to walk around with some donation buckets or raffle tickets to sell and spruik their fantastic work.
Not anymore! What we are now seeing is some really innovative, creative, and engaging ways through which both charity and commercial partners are able to activate their relationship with a rights holder. Furthermore, we are seeing a number of traditional commercial partners take the community assistance model, such as "Toyota is Good For Cricket" community program, or the like, where community grants become a core part of the partnership landscape.
I have identified a number of different ways charity or community partnerships have been utilized in creative ways and the key reasons behind their successful engagement.
Major partners allocating a charity partner branding positioning on a key asset (jersey or stadium)
We have seen a number of elite teams go down this path in the last couple of years, particularly here in Australia. Examples that come to mind are Huawei and the Canberra Raiders working together to provide a Ricky Stuart Foundation jersey for one key home game in an NRL Season. The Manly Sea Eagles work with Lottoland to have the stadium named the McGrath Foundation Stadium for a special home game. Finally, who can look past how commercial brands engage with the Pink Test at the SCG during Australia’s summer of cricket.
These initiatives not only help raise awareness of the charity or foundation but also identify a link between the commercial partner and their willingness to give back to other key areas of the community. It creates another talking point for the commercial partner and a different way to potentially engage a different consumer market. An initiative like this may actually amplify the media awareness of the principal commercial partner even though technically they will have reduced time in the public eye.
UTILIZING benefits for charitable purposes
We are seeing more and more commercial partners start to allocate some traditional benefits of a partnership to be used by a charity. This may include donating a hospitality suite to the charity to auction off, or even providing access to a money-can't-buy experience for a family involved with a specific charity.
This initiative is not usually executed to create awareness of the social responsibility of a commercial partner, Instead, the motive is simply to further enhance an already established connection between the commercial partner and the charity. This crossing-over of benefits can help tell a really meaningful and engaging story while at the same time creating a little bit of brand connection and loyalty (even if that wasn't the intention in the first place).
This is a really simple but quite meaningful way for a rights holder and commercial partner to engage a charity partner. Through outlining any logical connections of a player, and a charity (whether it be that they have a personal connection or have worked with them in other areas of their life), all three parties are able to benefit from engaging player appearances with a charity partner.
Not only does this create some super engaging content but it also allows for the rights holder, commercial partner, or charity to all tell their story in a different way.
We are seeing commercial partners start to play the role of grant provider or community partner through their rights holders. The major codes in Australia are regularly teaming up with big brands to help give back to the grassroots. Think Toyota and local cricket clubs or NAB and local AFL clubs.
This way of engaging a variety of community levels of a rights holder, while not traditionally involving a charity, can still achieve similar objectives for a brand. It creates further brand awareness, brand loyalty, and even positions them as a core member of the local community.
The above initiatives all provide a truly valuable opportunity for both a brand and rights holder to align their values with a particular charity or community organisation. The above initiatives also allow for the creation of a whole new series of content, provide a different narrative around the rights holder or brand, and truly allow for all three parties to open the door to a number of diversified partnerships. Finally, it opens up, for all three parties, a whole new set of potential markets.
Main image source: twitter.com/caitlynchalmers
Sam Irvine // General Manager - Product
Sam is passionate about helping organisations maximize their sponsorship programs and has worked with brands and rights holders at all levels. Sam is always looking for ways to improve himself and loves working with people who give as much as they take.
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