As we head into 2023, we’re feeling a tremendous amount of gratitude for the past year and so much excitement for what’s to come. While reflecting on 2022 and planning for the next four quarters, we realized just how much our clients helped shift the narrative of sport philanthropy.
From sports betting to accessible sport, the past year was bookended by ventures into completely uncharted territory, all the while utilizing sport for good as our guiding light. To say this was challenging would be an understatement, but it also laid the foundation for where Relate goes and has opened our eyes to the endless opportunities to work with like minded individuals and organizations to make meaningful change.
What has remained particularly important for us is to continue to grow capacity for organizations that use sport to invest in children. Generating revenue to deliver upon a mission is not easy, which is why we work hard to strategize, create, and execute fund development and engagement programs that appeal to donors and partners so organizations can focus on their philanthropic work. The celebrity of sport captivates and inspires youth, and we had the pleasure of working with some of the organizations who do just that. KidSport Canada works to ensure that no child is left watching from the sidelines by paying their sport registration fees. Since 1993, KidSport has helped nearly 1 million kids experience the joy of organized sport, and in return, sport has created all kinds of positive change for Canadians. Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame is in the business of making this country better by inspiring the leaders of tomorrow through the invaluable lessons of sport. Hockey4Youth was founded to facilitate social inclusion for new Canadian (newcomer) and high-priority youth through free ice hockey and their off-ice life skills T.E.A.C.H. program. Canada’s national game is cost prohibitive for new Canadian families and those living in high priority neighbourhoods, but Hockey4Youth works to break down those barriers and bring our game to anyone who wants to play.
This past year also saw a significant shift in conversations around safe and accessible sport. Despite what we see and hear in the news, sport is safer now than it has ever been and is needed now more than ever. But difficult conversations are also needed. In November, we worked with the Carnegie Initiative, NHL, NHLPA, GTHL, Toronto Maple Leafs and Future of Sport Lab to bring together players, parents, partners, coaches, sports leaders and other stakeholders in important conversations around the growth of inclusion and acceptance in hockey. The data collected will be used year over year as a benchmark to evaluate progress, what’s working, what isn’t and to hold us all accountable in changing our game. We also had the opportunity to work with Vancouver Whitecaps FC to support their desire to build a lasting legacy and launch a Foundation that is built for the community, by the community with a focus on safe access to soccer. A leader in safe sport and long-time client of ours, Canoe Kayak Canada continued to pave the way in building a safe and accessible sport system from grassroot to podium. With fundraising initiatives for women’s canoe coaching programs to ensuring that every region across the country has the standardized equipment needed to be inclusive for all and most incredibly, working to safely bring the Ukrainian team over to compete at the 2022 ICF’s Canoe Sprint and Paracanoe World Championships in Dartmouth. And because good inspires good, when Vivoblu and Water for All saw what CKC was doing and that the Ukrainian team was traveling to Canada for the event, they immediately reached out to ask how they could get their life-saving water filters into the hands of the Ukrainian team!
While Relate was built on the premise of sport philanthropy, we also think it’s incredibly important to constantly be looking at other industries, trends and innovations. That philosophy is ingrained in our values, and fortunately led us to some very different, but exciting opportunities. For years the potential of the legalization of single game sports betting fascinated us. In some countries, amateur sport is funded almost entirely by gaming, and we were excited by the potential of working to build a better sports betting industry in Canada. From integrating charitable contributions to athlete deals, to repurposing assets for good, and investing in women and girls in sport, our work set a standard for how sportsbooks can invest in communities. We also took on a new challenge in the sport tech space in running the operations for The Future of Sport Lab; Canada’s leading sports tech incubator and working with eight unique startups, Toronto Metropolitan University, MLSE and the DMZ. Exploring the sport tech industry has a huge benefit to our clients and allowed us to integrate their technology into operations and impact measurement. And finally, as a company focused on driving sustainable growth and revenue for our clients, we couldn’t turn down the opportunity to work with top financial institutions, Amazon and the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy to lead sponsorship efforts for the first annual Future of Money event held in Toronto this past spring.
This past year has made us so incredibly grateful for the wonderful people and organizations we have crossed paths with. By expanding our horizons - and networks - we’ve been able to focus on building valuable partnerships and breaking down silos, and we’re excited to see where the next year takes us!