Mississauga’s World Vision links with companies for donation-linked marketing

File: Despite economic conditions many Canadians remain charitable, helping those in need, such as these children in Armenia. (CNW Group/World Vision Canada)

One of Mississauga’s biggest humanitarian groups is moving to new ways to encourage corporate donations this holiday season in spite of the sluggish economy.

World Vision Canada is organizing more marketing partnerships with companies through their popular online and print catalogue, giving small and large businesses who donate more publicity and an image as good corporate citizens.

It may also provide key selling opportunities linked to the donations.

“Last year we had about 70,000 Canadians buy 190,000 gifts for more than a total of $14 million,” corporate development adviser  Sara Lewis told YourMississaugaBiz.com.

“We’re looking at corporations who want to partner with us for more of an active point of view and really touch their audience as well as ours.”

Two examples of this are Burnbrae Farms and Visa, who have both partnered with World Vision Canada to provide incentives to buy livestock for farmers in Third World countries.

Starting on Nov. 23, Burnbrae will donate an extra $10 for people who buy two hens and a rooster ($50), up to a maximum additional donation of $5,000. Starting on Dec. 1, Visa will contribute $15 for every purchase of a goat ($100) up to an additional total of $45,000.

Burnbrae Farms is one of Canada’s largest egg producers, with thousands of chickens at its plants. The company’s Mississauga egg grading facility is on Tomken Road.

While Visa’s amounts towards World Vision gifts is $5,000 less than their 2011 amount, this year the credit card company is also donating $30,000 towards child sponsorship, making their total 2012 donation $75,000, up from $50,000 last year.

Lewis said while this method of corporate donation is different from traditional philanthropy that is tax deductible, companies still benefit through marketing exposure.

Lewis said during the Christmas season, the charity’s most popular donation time, there will be special language on the World Vision website highlighting the partnerships with Visa and Burnbrae. “We’re hoping that gives people more incentives to purchase,” she said.

Last year Visa saw a 59 per cent lift in Visa credit card purchases for the goat donation from the promotion.

While corporate partnerships are becoming a more popular trend, Lewis said corporate giving remains flat overall and traditional donations are still important.

“There’s still a really strong place for philanthropic giving and that remains a fundamental part of helping fund the work that we do,” she said.

While Lewis noted the period after the recession did affect corporate giving and kept it flat, she remained hopeful for the future. “I’m optimistic that it will eventually, but as to when that will be I don’t know.”

World Vision also recently commissioned a poll that suggests Canadians are less likely than Americans to cut our donations because of poor economic times.

“Canadians value generosity and will do what they can to remain generous through tough times,” says World Vision Gifts spokesperson Marie Bettings. “What World Vision and other organizations have seen across the country are every-day heroes who do what they can to provide their time and resources to help others in spite of tougher economic conditions.”

World Vision Gifts is a part of the Christian charity group that handles gifts of clothing, accessories, food, gift cards and other things that can be sent to poor children around the world.

The poll carried out by Harris Interactive showed that 71 per cent of U.S. adults plan to raise their charitable giving when the economy improves, where as 61 per cent of Canadians polled said changes in the economy will affect their level of charitable giving.

Moreover, 37 per cent of Americans said they strongly agree they will cut Christmas spending this year because of the weak economy, compared with 26 per cent of Canadian respondents.

Such polls are widely used by banks and other companies to raise awareness for products and services, research consumer attitudes, support marketing campaigns and strategic corporate goals.

It’s not surprising that Canadians are less concerned about the economy because it is doing better than the U.S,. especially in the resources and energy producing provinces in Western Canada and elsewhere.

World Vision Canada is headquartered at 1 World Dr. near Highway 401 in northern Mississauga.

The charity recently made a list of Top 100 employers, in part because the relief, anti-poverty development and advocacy group provides its 442 employees with the chance to travel around the world to countries where World Vision operates.

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