If you are a fund raiser in Canada, you can obtain certification and designation as a fundraising professional. You get to put CFRE (Certified Fund Raising Executive) after your name, telling potential donors you have studied, and know the ethics and correct methods of fund raising. Also, potential employers know where you stand. Heck, even ski lift operators can get certification and we all know servers in bars need to take the responsible serving courses. Accountants, financial advisors, Zamboni drivers, and others all have certification. Why does our industry not have a designation or certification program?
True, there is lots of great training and development around, such as the SMCC chapter events (breakfast forums, socials, evening training, and speakers) as well as the WSC (Western Sponsorship Congress®), the Sponsorship Toronto Conference, the Relevant Conference in Montreal, the CSF, and the SMCC Sponsorship 101 workshop. On top of this, we have a Hockey MBA program, and we have schools like MRU, Brock, George Brown, and Laurentian, which include sponsorship in their diploma and degree programs. Then, in their fundraising and/or event management programs, colleges like Seneca, Humber, Niagara, and Centennial cover off sponsorship and many use the Canadian book Reality Check – Straight Talk about Sponsorship Marketing in their course curricula. Scotiabank has joined forces with Ryerson for capacity building programs in the non-profit and charitable sectors. And the Smith School of Business at Queen’s University has teamed up with the Canadian Olympic Committee for a program for Olympians. Lots of great “training” and education—but no overarching sponsorship certification program. Everyone is doing their own thing.
In the past 24 months or so, I have spoken with several post-secondary institutions that would love to develop such a curriculum. As many have noted, a good portion of the curriculum (inventory asset development, valuation, prospecting, proposal development, activation, fulfilment, and summits) already exists in Reality Check and that part of the curriculum can be built from that publication. Beyond this, I believe there is a need to understand the agency side, the brand side, and so much more.
Our country is full of thought leaders in this industry. Many of these brilliant minds already give back through their board or committee roles on SMCC, and many of them have brought the industry to where it is today. They are to be commended, but I truly believe it is the role of the SMCC to take our industry to the next level. It is more than just a mentoring program and one annual two-day workshop. It is about building an accreditation program, setting standards in the industry, and providing educational leadership. I am one who would step up and support the process to fill this void, but I am not the one to lead it—the SMCC needs to show that leadership. I am excited to help when that trek is begun!
What about you? Are you willing to freely contribute? Are you willing to support such a program? And probably most importantly, do you also feel this is something we need—or not?
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