Financing social marketing programs through sponsorship: implications for evaluation

Judith Madill (Telfer School of Management, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada)
Norm O'Reilly (School of Human Kinetics, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada)
John Nadeau (School of Business, University of Nipissing, North Bay, Canada)

Journal of Social Marketing

ISSN: 2042-6763

Publication date: 28 January 2014



The purpose of this paper is to report on research designed to assess the impact of sponsorship financing of social marketing initiatives on the evaluation of those social marketing programs.


The research utilizes an in-depth, multi-method case study of the Canadian Mental Health Association Calgary Region (CMHA-CR) who carried out a social marketing campaign concerning mental health behaviors that was largely financed by sponsors.


The sponsorship of the CMHA-CR social marketing program was complex with a total of 15 stakeholders involved as sponsors, partners and grantors. The research reveals that while there is considerable sharing of objectives among the stakeholders in this sponsorship, not all objectives are shared between sponsors and sponsees, and not all objectives are shared between the public and private sector sponsors of the program.

Practical implications

The research showed that because sponsors and sponsees share in many of the objectives of the social marketing campaign, the evaluation of the social marketing campaign, particularly its ability to achieve the social marketing-specific objectives, is of interest to all the stakeholder parties, and effective social marketing evaluation must also incorporate evaluation of the non-shared objectives of all sponsorship stakeholders.


Increasing social needs, accompanied by reduced government funding and increased competition amongst not-for-profit (NFP) organizations for that funding, are driving NFPs to seek innovative approaches to financing their social programs. The research reports initial findings critical in this environment, as well as raises issues and questions related to future research.



Madill, J., O'Reilly, N. and Nadeau, J. (2014), "Financing social marketing programs through sponsorship: implications for evaluation", Journal of Social Marketing, Vol. 4 No. 1, pp. 22-37.

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