Casting a Halo on non-profit work

A new consultancy from a sector veteran will provide objective strategy and agency resources to non-profits.

Non-profits looking for guidance in marketing and advertising now have a new ally in Halo Brand Leadership, a consultancy specifically for charitable organizations and founded by veteran marketer Paula Roberts.

Roberts is returning to the agency side after six years as EVP of marketing and development at Plan International Canada and four years as VP of marketing at SickKids Foundation. Prior to entering the not-for-profit sector, she was managing director at TBWA\Chiat\Day’s Toronto office (now TBWA\Toronto) and general manager at Roche Macaulay (now Lowe Roche).

Roberts says she will be providing strategic oversight and essentially be working as an agency lead for her not-for-profit clients, who sometimes do not have the budget to hire someone permanently in that role. She says, with not-for-profits being a $25 billion sector with 85,000 registered groups in Canada, it is not only an opportune time to start this kind of consultancy, but a point where a more critical, outside viewpoint is becoming a necessity.

“Many of the people who work in not-for-profit are driven by passion for the issues they represent, and that’s absolutely critical,” she says. “But as the sector becomes increasingly competitive, there’s a need for objectivity and a need to truly understand what motivates donors/consumers. Without that objectivity coupled with passion, organizations aren’t going to be able to cut through the competition out there.”

Plan will be one of Halo’s initial clients, as well as Children’s Aid Foundation and the Canadian Network for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health.

Halo will operate as a sister company of GroundZero Marketing, sharing office space and other infrastructure. Roberts says she the partnership allows her to start Halo with an established footprint, but adds the biggest benefit to her clients will be the ability to bring them traditional agency resources, should they need them.

Roberts adds the partnership also includes the possibility of GroundZero clients coming to Halo for assistance on CSR work or incorporating a social impact issue into their brand. GroundZero’s managing partner Bill Roberts is her husband.

Aside from the assistance provided by GroundZero, Roberts is currently running Halo by herself, although she says she will hire contract workers as needed and hopes to grow to the point where she may be able to hire permanent staff.

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