As more and more businesses realise the importance of socially and environmentally responsible actions, charities have a unique opportunity to build strategic corporate partnerships and diversify their income. In 2017 businesses donated a total of £2.5bn to the charity sector. With a large number of companies planning to grow their non-profit support through fundraising, donations and volunteering.

On the one hand in fact, the COVID-19 emergency has certainly forced some businesses to pause their charity initiatives. At the same time, however, those who haven’t seen their operations affected are actually increasing their support and being closer to their communities. By supporting local or national causes, businesses are showing to the public that they can really be a force for good.

So now the question is, are you and your charity actually taking this opportunity to the next level? Do you spend your time and resources effectively to bring in new corporate partners?

In this post we’ll have a look at a step-by-step guide to make sure that your existing and new corporate partnerships are more strategic and successful.

Ready? So let’s dive in!

Step #1 Make your corporate partnerships strategic

The business sector feels the pressure from customers and employees to become more socially responsible. Therefore, corporate charity partnerships have started to make sense from a business perspective as well. This means that businesses are now actively on the hunt for charities that are aligned to their goals and work towards a similar objective.

Certainly, profit and non-profit worlds are very different. And it would be difficult to understand how a charity’s purpose aligns with a business strategy. But only if there weren’t any tools to help you with that! The best one?

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). One of the major tools being used by businesses today to report about their operations and impact. For instance, if your charity trains disadvantaged young people to find a job, you’ll be contributing (among many others) towards SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth. Similarly, a business in the recruitment industry would also be interested in this SDG, because it directly correlates to their main business operations.

In other words, a business can support your charity while still working towards their main goal. And you’ll be helping them get there while they help you achieve yours. Do you see the potential of that? Can you image how many more businesses would respond to your support queries if you targeted them in a strategic way?

Step #2 Turn your corporate donor into a partner

Now, precisely because of this trend towards more strategic partnerships, businesses no longer want to feel they’re just money pots for your charity. They no longer want to see you reaching out to them purely for cash. They want to be involved, to feel part of the project, in fact to even co-create the project with you in some instances.

Collaboration has become an essential part of corporate partnerships. And to make sure that businesses want to partner up with your charity you need to show them the real value behind money. Involve their employees, ask for suggestions and ideas, listen to their contributions and try to include their inputs into the project design.

So go ahead and make sure that your corporate partner really owns the project. Make them feel like they’re part of it and are not just there to tick off the “charity donation” box on their annual report. Only then can you truly start to build a meaningful partnership with long-term goals and benefits for both.

Step #3 Always respect your vision

I get it. Sometimes the pressure of securing funds and making it to the next quarter is overwhelming. But you need to be extremely careful about not losing sight of your vision when building new corporate partnerships.

I’ve heard many stories about charities – even the larger ones – who sometime felt just like delivery or implementing partners for their corporate donors. That’s not how it works. You should never ever forget that when it comes to community projects, you’re the expert. It is you who have been part of those communities for years. You who have been supporting those people and listening to them and their needs. So, make sure you remember this when a new partner tries to suggest a project activity that does not align with your vision or with the needs of your beneficiaries.

First, try your best to find a compromise. Talk to your partner, explain your point of view. Many smart people inhabit our world, and if you’re open with them about it there’s a high chance they’ll get it. And again, listen to what they have to say, make sure that you value their ideas. If you’ve followed step #2 and are on track to build a solid relationship, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t successfully come to an agreement.

Learn to say NO

Yet, sometimes this isn’t the case. And things do go south. If this happens, I want to make sure you’re prepared to do one thing: say NO.

That’s right. And believe me I know how difficult and scary this seems. Saying no to someone who’s offering us funds? Are you crazy, you might ask? Well no, in fact I’m trying to help.

Try to imagine what could happen if you were to say yes to something that you know has no positive benefits for the communities you serve. OK, you may get that check. Great. But what after?

  1. Your beneficiaries would forever lose trust in you. They would simply no longer believe you’re there to help. And this in turn would affect your ability to run the organisation. With no one to help, there really isn’t much purpose in a charity, right?
  2. Future potential corporate (and not only) partners would prefer another charity to yours. That’s because your beneficiary base is no longer as solid and because your reputation has been compromised.

In other words, if things go south have the courage to say no and respect who you are. It’s tough but it’s the best thing you can do for your organisation and the communities you serve. Plus, if you show to your partner how important your vision and purpose are beyond the money, they might eventually like you and the project even more!

Step #4 Find innovative solutions for your corporate partnerships

How much time are you spending on finding new corporate partners with few results?

It usually goes two ways. Either you upload a project on a business giving or CSR platform and wait for someone to find you and donate to your project…but that’s really not getting you anywhere close to your targets. Or, you spend endless hours (read: weeks) googling companies, trying to guess on LinkedIn who the decision maker is. You even reach out to them only to hear (if you’re lucky!): “let me connect you with a more appropriate person for those kind of queries”.

Now, you do realise it’s time to get innovative and find new solutions, don’t you?

Well, we agree. That’s why we’ve developed a proactive match feature on G.APP17, so that charities can look and be matched with businesses aligned to their goals. With zero effort required, you’ll know who to reach out to.

The great news? You can literally sign up for free if you join now. That’s right. We’re testing the platform and giving you free access for a limited time. So if you followed step 1, 2 and 3, you definitely shouldn’t miss step 4 to make the most out of your corporate partnerships.

What are you waiting for? Get hands on with corporate partnerships innovation now!