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Canadian Public Health Association

Corporate Sponsorship Policy

Approved December 9, 2008


In the 21st Century, public health will face some of its greatest challenges. If current trends continue, many existing public health problems will be more widespread, from HIV/AIDS and tobacco-related disease, to the chronic diseases of our aging population and domestic and community violence. Simultaneously, rising costs and decreasing public funds may further jeopardize the public’s health and stretch the public health system.

The Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA) must have the financial resources to continue to provide high-quality programs and to expand its reach into important new initiatives. To fulfill its mission, CPHA will continue to secure resources from external sources rather than relying on grants and contribution agreements from the federal government.

In September 2006, CPHA’s Board of Directors approved a “Corporate Relations / Corporate Sponsorship Policy” to guide CPHA’s collaboration with the private sector. This “Corporate Sponsorship Policy” replaces the September 2006 document.

This policy has been strengthened to describe specific criteria and a review and oversight process for evaluating potential relationships with corporate entities. This Policy is intended to protect the mission and integrity of CPHA while supporting the Association’s fundraising efforts.

The Policy was drafted with the following considerations in mind:

  • CPHA’s approaches to sponsors should be considered as opportunities to build friends and supporters for public health for the long term.
  • The criteria for review should be reasonable and realistic.
  • The review and oversight process should not be overly cumbersome.
  • Over time, the review process will build a body of knowledge for accepting and soliciting sponsorships.
  • The Policy will be reassessed after one year and thereafter as necessary. Reassessments will take into consideration CPHA’s experience of applying the policy. It is expected that methods for a more effective review and/or gaps in the criteria or the review process will be identified. As a result, modifications will be made to the Policy as appropriate.

The Policy applies to all sponsorships received by CPHA, solicited or unsolicited. Government contribution agreements, grants and contracts, and grants from independent foundations are not classified as sponsorships and need not be evaluated.


For the purposes of this policy, the following definitions will be used:

  • Donation: A free or philanthropic contribution or gift, usually to a charity or public institution.
  • Endorsement: A formal and explicit approval or a promotional statement for a product or service of a corporation.
  • Sponsorship: A sponsorship arrangement is a business arrangement whereby the private sector partner commits resources (monies and/or in-kind resources) to support a specific project or activity, but does not share in the profits or underlying risks of the project. The private sector contributes funds to an event, program or even a capital project and receives a benefit (e.g., specific image and marketing opportunities) from the associated publicity.

    Sponsorship can occur when the two partners (e.g., CPHA and the private sector sponsor) share objectives and usually the private sector sponsor wants visibility. A sponsorship agreement covers a specific performance of work. The sponsor provides resources (e.g., money, staff, products or services) and receives a benefit (e.g., marketing or advertising opportunity).

    Note: Sponsorship does not include paid advertising in publications such as the Canadian Journal of Public Health or the CPHA Annual Conference Programs.

General assumptions

Three general assumptions will shape the acceptance of all sponsorships. They are:

  • CPHA will solicit and accept support only for projects and activities that are consistent with the Association’s mission.
  • Acceptance of sponsorships must enhance, and shall not impede, CPHA’s ability to act in the best interest of the public at all times.
  • CPHA’s name, logo and other intangible intellectual assets must be protected at all times.

Initial evaluation of sponsorships

The major determinants in evaluating sponsorships will be its value and from whom it is received. The proposed dollar amount will generally determine the level of review. In addition, irrespective of the dollar amount of a sponsorship, high-profile sponsorships which involve Association-wide recognition or may be potentially contentious will require a review and recommendations by the Corporate Social Responsibility Working Group (CSRWG) and Board of Directors review and approval. For smaller sponsorship (or advertising) opportunities, staff may request a CSRWG review should there be a question of whether the sponsor organization’s values and principles are congruent with those of CPHA.

It is expected that all sponsors, particularly those from the corporate sector, making sponsorships of any amount will comply with CPHA’s Principles for Corporate Sponsorship (see Appendix) and the criteria as stated in this policy.

High Profile Sponsorships

  • All sponsorships for high profile, Association-wide recognition, regardless of the amount must be reviewed by the CSRWG for sponsor adherence to the policy and presented with recommendations to the Board of Directors via the Finance Committee.
  • The Board of Directors must review and approve all decisions related to the recognition of potential Association sponsors that involve high-profile, Association-wide recognition to ensure that these decisions preserve the credibility and reputation of the Association.

Sponsorships valued at $25,000 or more

  • All sponsorships of $25,000 or more will be reviewed by the CSRWG for sponsor adherence to the criteria as stated in this policy. The CSRWG will report its findings periodically to the Board of Directors via the Finance Committee.
  • The Finance Committee will make final decisions about sponsor adherence to the policy on sponsorships of $25,000 to $99,999.
  • The Finance Committee will make a recommendation to the Board of Directors for the Board’s final decision on sponsor adherence to the policy for sponsorships of $100,000 or more.

Sponsorships valued at less than $25,000

  • All sponsorships under $25,000 will be reviewed for sponsor adherence to the policy by staff applying the criteria outlined in this document, including:
    • Unrestricted sponsorships (i.e., sponsorships which are not tied to specific programs or activities);
    • Sponsorships made in support of established CPHA programs or activities; and
    • Sponsorships made in support of new programs or activities.

Criteria for reviewing a sponsorship

Overall, the purpose of the review is to determine the balance of the benefit to the public in relation to the risks and costs of collaborating with the sponsor. On a case-by-case basis, the following conditions should be considered in determining the benefits and risks of accepting a sponsorship.

Are the specified proposed uses of the sponsorship congruent with the mission and priorities of CPHA?

Issues to consider in determining this congruence include:

  • How do the proposed uses of the sponsorship relate to CPHA’s mission and priorities?
  • Why does the organization want to sponsor CPHA?
  • How will the benefits to be derived from the intended purpose of the sponsorship compare with the CPHA’s resources required to fulfill the intended purpose?
  • Do the practices of the corporation fit with the adopted public policies of CPHA? Recognizing that socially responsible practices are a cornerstone of CPHA’s policies, and that good corporate citizenship should embody socially responsible practices, the following are among the types of issues that should be considered in assessing the benefits and the risks of accepting sponsorships from outside organizations, especially corporations:
    • The types of core products or services produced or provided;
      Note: Sponsorships will not be accepted from tobacco companies, alcohol companies, and manufacturers of firearms and weapons of mass destruction. In the event that the sponsor corporation is part of a corporate conglomerate with ties to tobacco, alcohol or the manufacturer of firearms or weapons of mass destruction, the sponsor corporation as well as the relationship between the sponsor corporation and the conglomerate would be reviewed.
    • Occupational health and safety conditions under which products or services are produced;
    • Employment practices, including commitment to diversity and a living wage;
    • Commitment to protection of the environment;
    • Record of regulatory compliance;
    • Marketing and advertising practices;
    • Research and development policy and practices;
    • Human rights record;
    • Sponsor’s relevant public policy positions;
    • Record of support to public health organizations or public health-related issues and organizations;
    • Other past activities will be weighed in relation to CPHA’s public policies and public reputation.

It is recommended that a discreet initial assessment by staff be done as a prospect is identified or is self-identified as in the case of unsolicited requests to partner with CPHA. The assessment will be based on available current knowledge, including web sites, a review of newspapers and contact with appropriate CPHA leaders. CPHA members contacted will be held to a level of confidentiality as it relates to discussing CPHA’s pursuit of potential sponsors until the information is made public.

As appropriate, CPHA staff will utilize the services of EthicScan Canada Limited, a Toronto-based business ethics consultancy, corporate responsibility research house and educational resource centre, the mission of which is to help organizations and individuals behave more ethically. EthicScan monitors the social, labour and environmental performance of 1500 companies in Canada. The organizations researched and independently-tracked include public and private Canadian corporations, non-publicly traded companies, and foreign-based transnationals operating in Canada. The areas of corporate social responsibility analysis include environmental performance, progressive staff policies, charitable giving and community responsibilities, sustainability management, military-related production, sensitive business activities, gender and family issues, and ethical sourcing and trading.

Are the sponsor’s expectations pertaining to control, oversight, and outcome(s) of the sponsorship and/or project to which the funds are applied acceptable to CPHA?

As stated in the Principles for Corporate Sponsorship, CPHA will accept funds only when CPHA has control of the content of the activity and when CPHA has and maintains complete control of all funds.

Issues to consider:

  • Does CPHA have editorial control over the content of educational materials and publications and input into their dissemination?
  • Will CPHA be able to review and approve public statements about the project, its findings and/or implications? Will CPHA be in control of the funds at all times?
  • Are expectations on outcome, responsibilities, methods of implementation, and duration of funding feasible and agreeable? (Any special expectations of the sponsor need to be explicit and documented).

Are the sponsor’s expectations regarding recognition or acknowledgment of their support acceptable to CPHA?

As stated in the Principles for Corporate Sponsorship, acknowledgments will be limited to company name, logos, slogans which are an established part of the supporter’s identity, trade names, addresses and telephone numbers.

Issues to consider:

  • Is the extent to which the name of the corporation is affiliated with CPHA and the proposed project defined by CPHA acceptable to the sponsor?
  • What public recognition is expected by the sponsor?
  • Is the recognition appropriate for the amount of the sponsorship?
  • Is there an appearance of product endorsement?

Would acceptance of the sponsorship create any real or apparent conflicts of interest, and would the impact and/or benefits of accepting the sponsorship outweigh the risks of partnering with the sponsor?

In considering the following issues, CPHA recognizes the need to adhere to its principles and to weigh the benefits and risks of accepting the sponsorship from the sponsor as opposed to weighing just the opportunity of not accepting the actual dollar sponsorship.

Issues to consider:

  • Are there any personal, financial, or professional gains for CPHA staff, members or other volunteers, which create a conflict of interest?
  • What is the impact of the sponsorship and benefits to the public and public health?
  • Does the sponsor’s image support or detract from CPHA?
  • Do the impact and/or benefit outweigh the risks of collaborating with the potential sponsor?

Process for reviewing a sponsorship

The CSRWG shall consist of four (4) members of the Finance Committee and two additional members of the Association. With sponsorships of $100,000 or more, recommendations will be forwarded to the full Board of Directors for final approval. The CSRWG and Board of Directors will apply the criteria and procedures described in this document to evaluate the sponsorship.

Role of the Corporate Social Responsibility Working Group (CSRWG) of the Finance Committee

The CSRWG will be responsible for:

  • Reviewing all sponsorships of $25,000 or more for sponsor adherence to the criteria established in the policy;
  • Making the final decision about sponsor adherence to the policy on sponsorships of $25,000-$99,999;
  • Reporting to the full Board of Directors, through the Finance Committee, the outcomes of the reviews of sponsorships of $25,000-$99,999 and making recommendations for the Board’s consideration on sponsorships of $100,000 or more;
  • Reviewing all sponsorships that provide high-profile, Associate-wide recognition and making recommendations to the Board;
  • Identifying more efficient review procedures and/or gaps in the process; and
  • Proposing to the Board of Directors modification to the policy.

Reviews of sponsorships may be done via conference calls or e-mail.

In the event that the CSRWG cannot reach consensus, the majority vote will carry the final decision (on sponsorships of $25,000-$99,999) or recommendation to the Board of Directors (on sponsorships of $100,000 and more).

Note: In order for the review process to support the resource development effort it may be necessary to initiate the process before final sponsorships negotiations are complete. In such cases, the CSRWG will be asked to make a recommendation based on the facts at-hand and to apply the decision to expedite a final recommendation as negotiations are completed.

Role of the Board of Directors

The full Board of Directors will receive the report of the CSRWG for sponsorships of $25,000-$99,999 and consider the CSRWG’s recommendations in making a final decision on all sponsorships of $100,000 or more. In the event the Board cannot reach consensus, the majority vote will carry the final decision.

The Board of Directors will make final decisions on proposed modifications to the policy based on the CSRWG’s recommendations.

Turnaround Time

It is essential that turnaround time for review be sufficient to allow time for staff to prepare materials for the CSRWG and conference calls to be conducted. At the same time, it will be imperative that the review process be completed efficiently and promptly. It is recommended that this process be completed within a 6-week time frame.


All CSRWG reviews of sponsorships opportunities must be documented. Documentation of difficult decisions, particularly those in which consensus was not reached, should be detailed.

Staff must prepare statements for the sponsor and the Board of Directors on the agreed-to use of the funds and reporting the outcome for both restricted and unrestricted sponsorships. A general, positive statement is recommended for unrestricted sponsorships, for example: “CPHA will put the funds to use for the betterment of public health and to further our mission. CPHA also agrees to provide periodic updates to the sponsor describing how the funds are used.”

Staff should complete statements for the sponsor and the Board of Directors on Sponsorships that do not require formal review, for example: “CPHA received $$ from X Foundation for Y activities; this is in keeping with CPHA’s sponsorship policies.”

Criteria and Mechanism for Expedited Reviews

Sponsorships below $100,000, from previously approved sponsors, in support of approved or established projects, and in which there are no extraordinary obligations or stipulations can be expedited. In these circumstances, review materials may be faxed or e-mailed to all members of the CSRWG with a short deadline.

Multi-year Sponsorships

Multi-year sponsorships are to be evaluated by the CSRWG on an annual basis to ensure that the criteria continue to be met, in particular, that the risk/benefit analysis warrants the continuation of the relationship. The process is to be documented.

Changes in the CSRWG’s evaluation of the sponsorship will be forwarded to the Board of Directors for consideration.

Sponsorships to Third Parties

Sponsorships received by a third party for a CPHA activity or an activity that is associated with or publicized as a CPHA function must conform with CPHA’s Principles for Corporate Sponsorship and the Corporate Sponsorship Policy. CPHA staff must be informed of the original source of the sponsorship, its intended use and how the sponsorship will be promoted. If the sponsorship is above the $25,000 level, the review will be conducted by the CSRWG.

Sponsor Recognition

Public recognition of sponsors is encouraged. To ensure that CPHA’s sponsor recognition is consistent and appropriate across programs, activities, guidelines have been developed.

As stated in the Principles for Corporate Sponsorship, acknowledgments will be limited to company name, logos, slogans which are an established part of the supporter’s identity, trade names, addresses and telephone numbers. CPHA will not provide product endorsements.

The following policies apply to recognition of sponsors in print and electronic mediums.

  • CPHA’s name and/or logo should appear first and be of equal or larger size than the sponsors.
  • CPHA’s name and/or logo should be equally as visible as the sponsor’s name and/or logo.
  • Sponsors should be listed alphabetically or alphabetically within sponsorship ranges. It is suggested that variations on the below wording be used as an introductory statement to a list of sponsors:

    “CPHA gratefully acknowledges the support received for xyz from the following contributors”

Staff Role

The Director of Communications and Development, in consultation with the senior management team and with ultimate responsibility falling upon the Chief Executive Officer or her/his designate, is responsible for:

  • reviewing sponsorships under $25,000;
  • making a final determination on sponsorships of less than $25,000;
  • researching the background and affiliations of sponsor prospects within reasonable parameters;
  • determining if major CPHA policies are relevant to a sponsorships or sponsor;
  • performing cost/deliverables/funding analysis;
  • completing documentation of the considerations and recommendations/decisions of the CSRWG;
  • completing documentation of the commitments and obligations of each sponsorship;
  • completing periodic reports on outcomes and accountability;
  • annually compiling and providing to the Board of Directors and for public disclosure a list of all sponsors to CPHA; and
  • annually compiling and providing to the Board of Directors a detailed report on the cost, benefit and impact of each sponsorship completed in the previous 12 months.

Principles for Corporate Sponsorship

CPHA will focus on purposes consistent with its strategic priorities and comply with the following “Principles for Corporate Sponsorship” in soliciting all sponsorships. These Principles will be discussed with all sponsors during the early stages of discussions.

Principles for Commercial Support or Sponsorships

  • CPHA will at all times maintain an independent position on public health issues and concerns.
  • CPHA will solicit and accept support only for projects and activities that are consistent with the Association’s mission.
  • CPHA will accept funds for informational and educational activities only when the content is to be determined or verified by CPHA or an independent body of public health professionals designated by CPHA.
  • CPHA will maintain complete control of all funds provided from commercial supporters for educational activities.
  • CPHA will not permit commercial product promotions as part of a Continuing Education activity.
  • It is the policy of CPHA not to provide product or service endorsements.
  • Acknowledgments for commercial support will be limited to company name, logos or slogans which are an established part of the supporter’s identity, trade names, addresses and telephone numbers.
  • CPHA’s intangible intellectual assets, including the Association’s name and logo, will be protected at all times. Sponsors will not be permitted to use CPHA’s name or logo for any commercial purpose or in connection with the promotion of any product.
  • CPHA will be vigilant at all times to avoid any real or apparent conflict of interest in accepting sponsorships.

Any situation that may be an exception to this Policy or these Principles will be reviewed by the Chief Executive Officer in consultation with the Chair of the Board of Directors. Together, they shall interpret this policy in good faith.