Money for Pride –
3 Additional Factors that Motivate Sponsors
Change that takes hold in society, making those change agents proud to have been involved, takes time. Last night I was kicking back with my guy, watching the UNCF (United Negro College Fund) award ceremony on TV. Established in 1944, UNCF reduces financial barriers to college by rallying support from sponsors. While numbers and amounts of scholarships awarded in the early days are not available, it’s likely that the numbers were relatively small. These days they hand out 10,000 scholarships of substantial amounts every year.
Seeds for change in American education were sown long ago. Around the 1870s Ida B. Wells, a black female journalist and activist, set the stage for change. She toured colleges and universities for public speaking engagements. Although the abolition of slavery brought profound change to her people, she knew that true freedom for African Americans would only come when they were able to enrol and educate their youth freely in colleges and universities.
Like the UNCF, Pride organizations are progress-in-the-making. The earliest version of Pride Parade took place in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago in 1970. Toronto followed suit the same year as Philadelphia did – 1972. Vancouver’s event, called Gay Unity Parade, kicked off in 1978. The August 2, 1981 edition of the Vancouver Sun estimated that 1500 people took part in the celebrations. Fast forward to 2015.
Vancouver Pride Society now boasts crowds of 650,000 at the Parade, which achieved “civic status in 2013 and is one of the city’s flagship events”. Furthermore, it’s “renowned on the international stage as one of the largest and most successful LGBTQ2+ events in the world”. As we can see in the progress of both UNCF and Pride organizations, real change truly takes time.
Today the evidence of a prosperous relationship between the Pride Society and much of Vancouver’s community is seen in the partnerships the Pride Society has forged with its sponsors. Development would not have been possible otherwise. For example, last year “shaded accessibility areas tripled in size”, so there was “more priority seating and wheelchair access for festival attendees”.
The roster of sponsors is growing and shows no sign of letting up. A sampling of the top players are TD Bank, Urban Fare, Pet Smart, Bud Light, YVR, BMW Store, and newcomer to Vancouver – Nordstrom’s.
We all know money is the underlying motivation for sponsorship. Sponsor hands over X amount of cash; host organization reciprocates the favour by promoting them. Sponsor consequently gets tax breaks; benefactor consequently has funds to put on their event. Win-win.
Before this happens, though, the decision-makers in the corporation have the task of deciding where to park their money that year. With the staggering number of benefactors that corporations have to choose from, how do they decide who to give money to?
There are sometimes reasons not linked to monetary gain. Three such reasons are related to:
motivation for community involvement
I looked at TD sponsorship, in a role called Presenting Partner, to try and determine if there was more motivating them than money.
Ed Clark, TD CEO gave a moving presentation last year at the Economic Club of Canada during World Pride Conference in Toronto. Ed is no stranger to the LGBTQ community. Among countless awards and accolades in his career, he received the Egale’s Leadership Award in honour of his leadership in supporting LGBTQ communities, and the inaugural Catalyst Canada Honour, awarded to people who have made a critical difference to women’s advancement.
Authenticity is behind his statement that “this issue is fundamentally about people – not profits. Being inclusive must be more than a corporate policy – it must be a guiding principle”.
Reading on, evidence of personal motivation for sponsorship is in the speech. This humanitarian – CEO goes on to say that countless LGBTQ couples now are able to legally wed and become parents, and that he’s proud to work alongside some of these people.
His talk seamlessly transitions into a discussion about discrimination and human rights outside Canada, evidence of ethical motivation. Further the discussion slides into the importance of inclusion in community.
“Let me tell you about one of the things I am doing. I mentioned earlier that more than 20 percent of the children on the streets in Toronto are from the LGBT community. Often they arethere for only one reason – their families, and in many cases, their community reject them for being themselves, for being honest and for coming out.
Shelters in big cities are tough places for LGBT youth – so they prefer the street – even with the attendant dangers. There was no crisis centre these kids could go to – no shelter run for their needs – no transition homes to help them get re-established.
A group of us are determined to change that – we have opened a crisis centre, and are working on finding a place to open a shelter. If you want to help us, give me a call”.
Later, Ed offers up the fact that TD has given same sex benefits to employees since 1994. Throughout the whole presentation, Ed’s conviction comes through, giving his words meaning and depth.
Ed has since retired as CEO of TD Bank. I have no doubt, though, that the values at the core of his thought leadership has shaped the way TD Bank does business.
For these reasons, those three motivators not related to money – personal, ethical, and community – are behind TD’s reasons for being a major sponsor of Pride Vancouver.