Canadian Tire jumpstarts its sport relief efforts

Jumpstart's mission is to help kids overcome financial barriers to sports, but now it is helping leagues take on their own troubles.

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With no registration fees being collected or games to sell 50-50 tickets at, Canada’s recreational sports leagues and community organizations are at risk of not being able to keep their doors open once it is safe for kids to cram into a locker room or sit next to each other on a bench again.

To help those organizations weather their financial hardships, Canadian Tire’s Jumpstart Charities announced a new relief fund to ensure its goals of helping kids stay active through sports can continue.

Announced earlier this month, the $8 million relief fund will provide support in the form of grants, distributed to leagues and organizations demonstrating the greatest need, guided by a council of former Olympians, Paralympians and minds from the sports business world.

The relief fund, and the importance these organizations play in Canadians’ lives, is highlighted in a new 30-second spot created by Taxi. Going from brief to in-market in two weeks, the spot shows key sports’ moments in Canadian children’s lives – like the first time their parents tied their hockey skates, or the time their child scored their first goal – and how they weren’t possible without the country’s sport and recreational organizations.

Timing and context were factors of the relief fund being launched, as sports and recreational programs, in a typical year, tend to pick up and have high enrolment in the fall. The campaign is meant to acknowledge the absence of these programs, while providing an assurance that they will be able to come back, eventually.

“Back to school and back to fall activities is a time when most people are going back to organizations that provide these services,” says Eva Salem, VP of strategic marketing at Canadian Tire. “We know we’re missing out on key moments, and we can feel it. We’re not watching our kids do the stuff that they normally do. This is acknowledging that, but the other takeaway is and then, the fact that we’re trying to do something about it.”

A nationwide survey of 1,300 Canadian sports organizations found that 73% of community sport organizations are temporarily closed due to COVID-19 precautions, with more than half not planning to resume operations until 2021 at the earliest. That sharp halt in revenue also makes it doubtful that some of those organizations will be able to hold out until then: only 36% of organizations said they could be sustainable for more than six months, while 27% would only last in between three to six months.

“We believe that active kids playing sports and enjoying play leads to a healthier nation and healthier adults. We think it’s all connected,” Salem says. “Finding the $8 million to help them get through a difficult time – so that when things go back to some semblance of normal, they’re still around and can still add the value and do the things that they do for the communities that they’re in – was something that made a lot of sense for Jumpstart and Canadian Tire.”

Jumpstart Charities was founded on the premise of helping Canadian kids overcome financial and accessibility barriers to sport and recreation. The organization funds more than 70 physical activities – ranging from hockey and basketball to archery and yoga – across its 289 chapters throughout the country.

Touché! handled the media buy for the campaign, appearing on TV and through paid social.