By: Ashley Byars
The mission of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) is to enable all young people to reach their full potential as productive, responsible citizens through caring mentors, safe spaces and quality programs.
As the National Vice President of Corporate Partnerships and Engagement, Chad Hartman manages the Corporate and Cause Partnership program and all special events, including Summit for America’s Youth, Youth of the Year, Golf tournaments and various other fundraising events throughout the year.
We talked with Chad to learn more about:
- What inspired Chad to work in cause
- Current focus areas for BGCA corporate partners
- Chad’s take on the biggest opportunities and challenges for the future of corporate partnerships
Q: How did your career path lead you to your current role?
A: Like most development professionals, I would say that my path toward working in cause marketing was unconventional. I started in sports coaching soccer, and I planned to stay in the sports realm.
While I was working at my alma mater, High Point University, a new president was hired, and he inspired me to work in development. In his first 30 days, he raised $20 million. I moved into development roles including director of annual giving and director of parent programs.
After my tenure at High Point, I joined the Epilepsy Foundation, where I gained development experience outside of higher education. Next, I took a vice president role at the USO where I was responsible for major gifts. Over a three-year period, we increased donations from $1.9 million a year to over $11.6 million.
My current role at BGCA is National Vice President of Corporate Partnerships and Engagement and I’ve been with the organization for about seven months. I manage our Corporate and Cause Partnership program as well as all special events such as National and Regional Youth of the Year, Golf Tournaments, Summit for America’s Youth, etc. The Corporate Partnerships & Engagement team consists of strategy and operations, events, account management, business development, and cause marketing which are under my responsibility.
Q: Tell us more about BGCA’s mission and the focus of your work with corporate partners.
A: BCGA’s mission is to enable all young people, especially those that need us most, to reach their fullest potential as productive, caring, and responsible citizens. There are a few important parts of that: One, focusing especially on those who need us most; two, enabling ALL young people; and three, providing a safe environment to set our youth up for success, not only today, but also in their future interests in education, the workforce, and beyond.
Many of our corporate partnerships are driven by our programmatic activities including workforce readiness, DEI, STEM education, trauma-informed care, and safety. Our corporate partners help fuel these programs and bridge the divide for underserved communities across the country.
Q: Youth and families are preparing to go back to school, which can be an exciting time for many, but also brings challenges. Can you share more about BGCA’s new Raise Your Hand initiative that will help with many of these challenges?
A: Our Back2School program is a core campaign from July to September that drives interest and engagement, as well as a highly visible opportunity to talk about a very important moment for our youth. Now it’s more critical than ever due to the mental health concerns our youth are facing, as well as challenges from the pandemic that persist. It’s an important time to have a conversation about what communities need to thrive and give youth an opportunity to voice what they need.
More than eight million kids and teens are alone and unsupervised after school. A big component of our new Raise Your Hand campaign is complementing the in-school experience with after-school and summer programs. Kids and teens who participate have:
- Better school attendance
- Improved behavior
- Higher grades
- Higher test scores
We’ve also learned along the way that food insecurity is an important part of after-school activities – a lot of kids need additional food after school hours. The BGCA staff also help make sure homework is completed and they’ve really filled the gaps in communities. The campaign provides a great moment in time for corporate partners and the community to raise our hands for the Boys & Girls Clubs to address important and ongoing issues amongst our underserved communities.
Q: How are you engaging corporate partners in the Raise Your Hand initiative and back-to-school activities?
A: We have many partners involved in the campaign – they come in all different shapes, sizes, and objectives. As part of the larger campaign, each partner shows up a little differently – some have at-register campaigns, some are licensing-driven, and some focus on specific programs that align with their brand. This allows us to share different stories.
One example is an at-register campaign with Adidas – their stores have marketing materials around the campaign, and they have a product they sell with a portion of sales directed to the campaign.
As a part of Back2School, we try to balance evidence-based research to complement the campaign and provide more fuel and purpose for it. It’s not only a marketing campaign and the funding doesn’t just move the needle financially, but also with programmatic impact.
Family Dollar is another loyal BGCA partner that also engages customers in giving at the register, but they also have found unique ways to help our youth beyond their generous donations. Recently, Family Dollar created a “doing more” campaign which supports our Summit for America’s Youth initiative. Their aim is to get youth more active in the communities Family Dollar serves. One amazing story of their engagement comes from one of our Clubs in Sarasota and Desoto Counties, FL. Teenagers from this club saw a need for mental health education and advocacy in their community and took things into their own hands. They hosted a statewide summit in Florida to discuss this important topic. Over 80 teens, mentors, and mental health professionals participated in this Summit. Family Dollar helped amplify their voices, even more, to show what youth are doing to change their communities. Here is more about this story.
Q: What do you see as the biggest opportunities and challenges for the future of corporate partnerships?
A: I believe brands are looking for storytelling opportunities to share how their brand is connected to social impact and community needs. More and more brands are interested in how you can bring their impact to life through storytelling.
One of the challenges is the economy. Companies are dialing back a lot of their campaigns and being more deliberate in connectivity to their brand. They want to make sure there’s more alignment with the brand, employee sentiment and goals. There’s a lot to wrap our arms around for the future because so much is changing quickly. It’s always challenging to figure out how to stay ahead as an industry.
5 fun facts about Chad
- Last book read: Team of Teams by Stanley McChrystal
- Favorite activity to unwind: Pickleball
- Best advice you’ve been given: The first part of your career, you learn. The second, you earn. The third, you return—in service to others.
- Most interesting place you’ve visited: Rwanda
- Current favorite TV show: Drops of God on AppleTV+