Based in Toronto, I recently completed the Masters of Information (MI) program at the University of Toronto, and am the former Communications Manager at Canadian Business for Social Responsibility and Ontario-based Alterna Savings credit union. I'm long-time believer that businesses of whatever type - co-op, private, public - are critical to the process of social and environmental change. The MI d...
Canadian Success Story: Sponsorium's Cloud Tool for Community Investment
Thirty years ago Sponsorium founder and president Paul Pednault launched a consulting business in Montreal to advise companies on effective community investment strategies. Today, Sponsorium offers a SaaS community investment tool that is used by 200 companies in Australia, Europe, Asia and the Americas.
PerforMind, Sponsorium's community investment management system, has been around in its current web-based form since 2002. It facilitates centralized management of funding applications, application evaluation, and tracking of performance after giving.
The tool addresses the changing corporate community giving environment: "Before the economic crisis of 2008, Canadian community investment managers had more freedom in their corporate giving. Now there is increased pressure to demonstrate strong governance and transparency. The money spent has to serve the company," says Sébastien Auger, Vice President, Business Development, Canada. He also notes that functions that might have been separate in the past, like donations and sponsorships, are now often being merged and managed by one team.
When a new client comes on board, Sponsorium customizes PerforMind with that company's giving priorities, approach and administrative workflow. The system then comes into play before, during, and after giving. NGOs make their applications directly into PerforMind, after which they are automatically filtered. Then employee evaluations and gifts are tracked in the system, with post-gift statistics and ROI available. The use of the cloud tool facilitates a coordinated approach internally, helping, for example, to avoid duplications in gifts. According to a Sponsorium study, PerforMind saves 45% of CI clerical time, which can then be spent on higher value tasks like meeting with communities and finding better ways to work together.
A Canadian tale: Bombardier and Cascades
PerforMind is used by several leading Canadian companies, such as Cascades, Bombardier, Novartis, Hydro Quebec and others.
Bombardier, the Montreal-based manufacturer of airplanes and trains, centrally manages community investment for operations in 30 countries through PerforMind. Applications are available in multiple languages and each region has a representative using the system.
Cascades, a Kingsey Falls-based tissue paper and packaging manufacturer, is committed to sustainable development and is also managing all investments, whether be environmental or social causes, with the PerforMind solution.
Canada takes a balanced approach to CI: Benchmarking against global performance
A side benefit of the global take-up of PerforMind is the pool of CI data that companies can use to benchmark themselves globally. Sponsorium produces a quarterly report, The Sponsorium Report that aggregates all the real giving data for that period, broken down by market. This report is available to all community investment professionals at www.sponsoriumreport.com. Data points include actual spend vs. amount requested, new files created per giving sector, and average scores for the success of a sector, e.g., festival and fairs, in meeting brand objectives.
Sponsorium Report's latest data shows that Canadian companies take a more balanced approach to giving than their global peers. "Globally there is a lot of investment in sports. However, if you look at the Canadian marketplace our data shows that the arts, and festivals and fairs, are very dominant," says Auger. Spending towards the arts is higher in Canada than in any other market, but health and community events are also very prevalent. "In Canada we saw a more even landscape than in other countries," according to Auger. "There has been a natural evolution in the Canadian market to reach out and spread out investments."
Continuing to grow
Sponsorium continues to expand outward from its Montreal base, both through employees on three continents and a network of partners everywhere from Finland to Brazil. A recent Canadian partnership with SiMPACT Strategy Group is marrying the LBG Canada approach with PerforMind. Now common clients will be able to export data from PerforMind for LBG auditing and servicing.
With an approach combining a cloud solution and customized service, continued growth is expected for this Canadian firm.