Policy Number:
Responsibility: Finance Department
Approval Date:
Date of Next Review:

1.0       Purpose

The City of Sarnia acknowledges that corporations, businesses, individuals and service organizations may from time to time choose to support financially and/or materially municipal activities through sponsorships and/or donations. The City supports the development of sustainable relationships between the City and the community, and encourages community groups, businesses, corporations, labour groups, civic organizations, industries, government agencies, colleges, universities, and others to join in developing municipal-business relationships with the City through various types of sponsorship/donor arrangements for the benefit of the community.

2.0       Policy Statement

Acceptable sponsorships and/or donations provide benefits to the civil, cultural, artistic or recreational programs of the City through the donations/contributions of products, services, or money to the City. The City wishes to secure sponsorships/donations that are consistent with the values, principles, and objectives identified in the Corporate Strategic Plan and the various departmental strategic and master plan documents approved by Council.

3.0       Scope

Where financial considerations are involved as a result of municipal-business relationships, revenue opportunities for the City shall be optimized.

While encouraging business and community relationships, the City recognizes that it has a responsibility to provide as safe and secure an environment as possible for all residents. The City, with a “captive” clientele, will not become a vehicle for circulation of materials intended primarily for commercial gain, nor for materials that may be perceived to be inflammatory in nature or intent.


This policy does not apply to contracts where a service or product is provided to the City for a fee or to other arrangements the City enters into in order to manage its operations, such as those acquired under the Procurement Policy.

This policy does not take precedence over any policies, practices, or agreements with respect to advertising and associated in-kind service arrangements that are developed through purchasing contracts or other means.

4.0       Definitions

“Donation” means money, goods, or services given to the City with no expectation of reciprocal provision of goods or services to the donor.

“Sponsorship” refers to an organization or commercial enterprise providing financial support or goods or services for an activity, series of activities, program, or service. Generally, sponsorships shall be for a specific, short term, and limited purpose, usually no more than one year in duration. There will be no provision for automatic renewal or extension of the agreement and will be subject to an evaluation process.

5.0       Policy

Administrative Procedures

The City shall have the authority to decline any form of donation or sponsorship. Acceptance of donations/sponsorships is at the sole discretion of the City.

In accordance with the City’s Code of Conduct, no employee of the City shall accept a personal gift in cash or kind, or benefit from the corporate sponsor or donor.

The following points may be considered in determining whether to accept a donation or sponsorship agreement. Concerns and clarification questions should be addressed by staff, in consultation with the donor, in advance.

  • There is a defined need
  • Offers significant civil, cultural, artistic or recreational benefits, or social values for residents
  • Causes minimal intrusion while enhancing Municipal operations
  • City has sufficient funds to pay the costs of installation, on-going maintenance, repairs, and training
  • It is fair and equitable to other providers
  • Will not lead to exploitation of the residents
  • Does not imply endorsement by the City
  • Expected acknowledgement is dignified, modest, reasonable, and consistent with this policy
  • Is not primarily to solicit sales
  • Ensures protections against claims that are false or misleading
  • Donated goods and services are held to the same standard used for the selection and purchase of goods and services
  • Results in no encumbrances, liens, or debt on the part of the City
  • Restrictions on use or time frames imposed by the donor


The CAO and General Managers have delegated authority to accept sponsorships of a value up to $5,000 with a term up to one (1) year without requiring Council approval. Sponsorship agreements exceeding $5,000 in amount or longer than one (1) year in duration or that include exclusive privileges to the sponsor will require Council approval and shall be confirmed by contract with the City. Proposals shall be sent to the City Treasurer with a detailed rationale to obtain appropriate approvals and/or draft proper legal agreements in consultation with all stakeholder groups.

Sponsor activity must not infringe on any collective agreement or labour relations practices and must be consistent with the Procurement of Goods and Services Policy.


The CAO and General Managers have delegated authority to accept cash donations of a value up to $100,000 over a term up to two (2) years or one-time donations of goods and/or services of a value up to $100,000 without requiring Council approval.

Any donations greater than $100,000 or that include exclusive privileges to the donor will require approval of Council.

The City is able to issue tax receipts for cash donations and donations of furniture, equipment, or similar items valued $1,000 or less. In accordance with Canada Revenue Agency’s recommendation, donated items valued at more than $1,000 may require an independent assessment by a third party, at the expense of the donor, before the City can issue a tax receipt.

New or used equipment must be at a standard acceptable for use in Municipal facilities and meet the City’s specifications as may be deemed appropriate by the City. Equipment must be installed according to the standards of the City. Due to the intense efforts required to standardize and eliminate electronic risk, used computer equipment cannot be accepted.

The City will consider costs of installation, maintenance, repairs, and training, where necessary, to ensure funds are available to support the acceptance of the donated equipment.

If accepted, donations shall become the property of the City.


While public recognition may not be the primary rationale for a donation or sponsorship, the City appreciates that it may be appropriate to recognize, thank, or publicly acknowledge the sponsor’s support.

Sponsors may be recognized in an appropriate manner such as, but not limited to: in programs, directories, media releases, newsletters, posters, signage/brochures, and at Committee/Council meetings. Use of corporate logos and slogans should be appropriate or as defined in an agreement. There shall be no actual or implied obligation to purchase the product or services of the sponsor.

Each sponsorship/donation arrangement should have an agreed upon acknowledgement plan prior to accepting the sponsorship or donation. The acknowledgement plan shall be approved by the City in consultation with the sponsor. The Treasurer, in conjunction with the Communications Coordinator, will ensure the sponsor/donor acknowledgement plan is acceptable and consistent with this policy for Municipal-wide sponsorship agreements.

6.0       Roles and Responsibilities

This Policy is administered by the Treasurer jointly with relevant General Managers and appropriate consultation with the CAO.

7.0       Related Policies