“If you want to run fast, run alone. If you want to run far, run together.”

Bart Goemans, Director of Growth Marketing for the United Way of Calgary and area, is an exemplary professional with over two decades of experience in marketing, communications and public relations including working for two notable regional charitable organizations. In this interview, he speaks about teamwork, community service, navigating the world of charity marcom work and a roadmap to success.

Give us a background of your professional life and how that evolved into charity work.

My career started just after graduation from Mount Royal. In school, I had two co-operative job placements as part of my learning – one in oil and gas and the other with United Way in Calgary (UWCA). Marketing and communications can take you into many different industries. I have worked in government, technology, healthcare, energy and tourism, but found myself going back a full circle to UWCA to work with a brand that started my journey within this industry. It is fair to say, that all of my positions have had a community focus through either a product or service that enhances the quality of life for people where they live, work and play. I think that was instilled in me from how engaged I was in being exposed to that work very early in my career.

On challenges in charity communications

Typically, non-profits are smaller and have more resource constraints, but this also allows a person to wear many hats that enrich your skillset by providing the opportunity to manage multiple needs in marketing and communications in an always-evolving industry. When I started my career, the competition for stakeholder attention was already high with just traditional media channels, and today, of course, there are omnichannel approaches to engage content. Knowing your audiences, where to find them and getting a share of their attention will continue to be a growing challenge. That being said, the measurement of any campaign is now easier if you follow the many available metrics and make data trend analysis part of your core work to build that full picture.

Essential elements to creating a successful charity communications strategy

Follow the data, use business intelligence and apply it to your work strategically. With limited resources, building a communications plan that applies the right channels, with the right message at the right time can be a blend of science and art, but those fundamentals will serve anybody well. Communications and marketing professionals can be conveners and navigators for an organization, and tap into wells of information to further help connect people to a brand and build that map. Be a navigator and be curious about your business to unlock the questions that not everybody asks.

On communication campaigns dearest to the heart

There are numerous campaigns that I have worked on. All of them take a team. That is the biggest gift that I have in my career, is the talent that I have and am surrounded by. If you want to go fast, go by yourself, if you want to go far, go with a team. The annual STARS Lottery was always a great campaign to work on because the whole team was engaged from the grassroots community level to the advertising and media. At UWCA, it is the same for the Fall Campaign with the whole organization and community coming together. Being a part of that continues to fill my cup. It is the Calgary spirit that I grew up with. It is still there and coming back out of the pandemic, I feel it will grow stronger again.

Passion for people and why it’s critical in marketing communications

People want to hear stories about people – whether they bought a product that made their lives better, or received a service that helped them. It’s about striving to form a connection on that level.


Outside of work, I love to get on my bike and ride around our beautiful city. In the winter, you will find me on a ski hill or in a pool. Year round, I am taking our rescue dog for our daily walks and love how much fun he brings to the family with his character. We also love to spend time hosting our family and friends which inevitably comes with lots of loud laughing and usually a game of cards. I also volunteer on the IABC Canada West Board with a super group of people who keep me on my toes.

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