Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


Sponsors begin to favour grass roots over the elite

April 2009

Companies are increasingly putting chunks of their sponsorship budgets into projects that are community-based, reports a specialist consultancy.

Montreal-based Sponsorium International, which advises on sponsorship, says it is seeing far more interest in sponsorships backing grass-roots programmes rather than ‘high-end’ activities such as elite sport or opera.

‘Companies are now focusing their attention on corporate social responsibility when deciding how to allocate sponsorship funds,’ Sponsorium chief executive Paul Pednault told EP. ‘This means community-based social and environmental projects are scoring higher when they consider the potential return of sponsorship proposals.’

Pednault said the trend has been most marked during the past two years. ‘Before 2007 sponsors would have weighted the benefits associated with community campaigns at the lower end of the scale – ranked seven or lower out of ten key criteria benefits,’ he said. ‘But now we’ve seen this situation almost reverse to the point that we regularly see community engagement ranked as a top three priority.’

He believed this was partly due to a backlash, in harsher economic times, against sponsorship of elite activities. ‘Recent press coverage has revealed cynicism towards companies that sponsor high-end or elite [activities] whose benefits are associated with corporate entertaining,’ he said.

A study published last month by the market intelligence consultancy International Marketing Reports supports Sponsorium’s observations, arguing that grass-roots sports sponsorship is seen as a way of delivering CSR objectives. ‘During difficult times it becomes even more important to strengthen relationships with key stakeholders, and linking CSR to [grass-roots] sport allows them to do this,’ said Steve Hemsley, author of CSR and sports sponsorship.

Sponsorium International | Global | Community links

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