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We are pleased to invite you to submit your proposal up to the deadline of October 30, 2020. The Pillar Sponsorship program invests annually in alumni and student initiatives, while promoting the affinity products that sponsors offer to individuals in the University of Toronto community.

Our Sponsors: U of T Affinity Partners

The University of Toronto has long-standing affinity relationships with Manulife, MBNA, and TD Insurance. These partnerships allow the University to provide beneficial, value-added financial and insurance products to our alumni and students. Thousands of alumni take advantage of these offers and, in turn, the revenue generated helps support a range of diverse alumni and student initiatives. See all affinity products.

Important Update: Program Proposals & COVID-19
This year we are welcoming digital initiatives in light of current public health restrictions on in-person gatherings. For those considering in-person initiatives, a contingency plan must be included in the event that public health restrictions prevent such in-person gatherings in the year ahead.

Who can apply for sponsorship?

Open to U of T alumni, students, or staff, that develop projects, events or initiatives which add value to students and alumni in the University community and embody the values set out by our affinity partners.

Eligibility criteria:

  • illustrate a clear support of the student and/or alumni experience
  • be able to provide marketing visibility for the sponsor(s)
  • be non-academic in nature, with program focus in Canada
  • take place between January 1 and December 31, 2021

Carry-forward groups:
Due to COVID related cancellations in 2020, some groups have arranged to carry-forward all funds from the 2020 program to the 2021 program. In this case, even though new funding is not sought after, this application should still be completed in order to provide an outline of plans and goals for 2021.

Marketing deliverables

To build awareness of valuable affinity products offered, projects deliver marketing opportunities for the sponsor(s). Basic marketing deliverables include sponsor promotions and presence across: online, social, print, and signage. Additional marketing deliverables may include news articles, giveaway items, and other strategic engagement opportunities with the sponsor(s).

Required: Among other promotions, all projects must provide at least one (1) social post that directly promotes the affinity products website where your audience can click-through learn more and sign-up. Must use unique short link for tracking purposes, i.e. using the bitly tool or similar, enabling a count of total clicks. Approved initiatives will report on total clicks and share the publicly-accessible social post in a final report. Social posts within “closed” groups are not accepted.

Project attendees vs. sponsor’s audience

Applicants must outline the potential of their project for: a) number of people involved in the project (i.e. attendees, volunteers, etc.), and, more significant to the sponsor, b) number of people who might see the sponsor’s brand (i.e. impressions). It is important to distinguish between your project and the story of your project. Your project likely has a relatively small number of people involved as compared with the larger University community and broad alumni audience that you could reach with your story, i.e. through an alumni magazine, newsletter, social post, website, etc. For example, some projects many not involve the sponsor’s target audience (primarily alumni), but they can reach the sponsor’s target audience with their story, sharing about their community impact, and the sponsor(s) who helped to make it possible.

Reporting deliverables

For approved projects, expected vs. actual metrics are required in a final report. Approved project leaders are accountable to report metrics and to give creative ideas for how they might improve those in future. A report template will be provided and, for consistency, is the required format for final reporting.

What are the benefits of being sponsored?

Beyond the direct sponsorship funding (up to a maximum of $10,000 per year), the Pillar Sponsorship Program provides many supporting benefits:

  • ongoing, individual support from Alumni Relations throughout the program 
  • sponsor branded swag / prizes (may not apply in 2021)
  • stand-up ‘thank you’ banners for events (may not apply in 2021)
  • social media guidelines
  • sponsorship branding guidelines
  • learning sessions held to support Pillar leaders (i.e. with social media best practices and measurement know-how)
  • branding support and approvals, removing the guesswork from promotions with quick-turnaround feedback
  • simplified final reports process, a PowerPoint template will be provided for each project leader to fill in providing a consistent reporting approach
How to apply
  1. Read all information provided on this web page.
  2. Carefully select the potential sponsor that is most aligned with your project.
  3. Apply online by the deadline: October 30, 2020. Application has closed
  4. Retain a copy of your online application for your records (PDF is provided).
  5. All applicants will be notified of results in the first week of December 2020.
  6. Approved applicants will attend an info session in either of December 2020 or January 2021.

A how-to webinar was held on October 16th for all interested applicants. This online session was optional and aimed to cover the basics of applying. Webinar recording available by request.

How are proposals assessed?

Proposals are assessed by members of our affinity partner organizations, and the department of Alumni Relations in the Division of University Advancement. Affinity partners make the final decisions and past project approval is not a guarantee of future approval.

Assessment criteria of project proposals:

  • Community Impact – Effect on U of T alumni, students, and the greater University community.
    • Note: Pillar Sponsorship Program overall aims for a balance of audiences and project types.
  • Efficiency – Meaningful and efficient use of funding to deliver value to participants.
  • Sponsor Values – Alignment with the values of the sponsor(s).
  • Sponsor Audience – Ability to reach the target audience of the sponsor(s), (i.e. primarily alumni).
  • Sponsor Marketing – Extent of marketing opportunities provided for the sponsor(s).
    • For returning applicants, plans that will improve sponsor marketing versus previous year, and delivery of sponsor marketing in the past.
Sponsor specific criteria
Please review the below information and request the sponsor(s) that is well aligned with your project.

Healthy Active Living, Financial well-being Teamwork and innovation Financial Security,
Vibrant Planet,
Connected Communities,
Better Health
Building strong, resilient communities together Manulife makes decisions easier and lives better. One of the ways we do that is by investing in programs that motivate and empower people to make informed choices that help them live longer, healthier, more financially secure lives. Provide opportunities that help build innovative teams which foster community, enhance the student experience and provide value to alumni and future alumni. TD's purpose is to enrich the lives of our customers, colleagues and communities. With a focus on financial security, vibrant planet, connected communities and better health, we’re taking action by supporting opportunities that help people feel more confident about the future. More information: TD Ready Commitment
U of T
Manulife offers U of T alumni low rates on term life, disability, personal accident, health and dental insurance. The U of T MBNA Rewards® credit card lets you earn MBNA Rewards points and redeem for the rewards that you want. The TD Insurance Meloche Monnex program provides savings through lower preferred insurance rates for home and auto.
Alumni: Ages 25-45 Alumni: Ages 23-45 Alumni/Students: Ages 25-49
See Marketing Deliverables for details.

If you have any questions about the Program or the suitability of your project, please feel free to contact Benjamin Goss, Manager, Alumni Services and Affinity Products, at

Please note: Approximately 40-50 projects are approved annually. Historically, the number of applications submitted greatly exceeds those that are approved. Past project approval is not a guarantee of future approval.