When approaching project creation, how many times have you found yourself wondering: is this project going to make a real impact as well as attract the right corporate partners?

The good news is: don’t worry, it happened to almost every charity we know. The thing is businesses and charities are two very different worlds. And it does take some time to understand how to successfully combine beneficiaries’ needs with your corporate partner’s requests. As you well know, businesses have specific objectives to achieve. They want to make an impact that is tangible and aligned to their values and goals as a company. And charities also have their own goals and values, which are driven by what their beneficiaries need. So how can you combine your corporate partners’ objectives and your beneficiaries’ needs into a successful and impactful project?

Before we delve into our tips for project creation… step #0: find the right partner. If you’re not sure how to go about this read our step-by-step guide for successful corporate partnerships. In fact, it’s crucial that you start by following this rule first. Otherwise everything below will be pretty much useless for you. Always make sure you and your partner are aligned in terms of goals and objectives.

Now, if this is indeed the case then you’re ready to go ahead. Here are our tips on project creation to engage businesses while changing people’s lives.

#1 Assess the need

How many times did you come up with a great idea that you thought was going to change the world? That’s amazing. We need this kind of ideas to make the world a better a place. But before going out there to implement it it’s crucial to understand weather there is a real need for it.

Do your research, ask your beneficiaries and bring home the data you need to demonstrate this is a real problem for the communities you are serving as a charity. This will have two main positive outcomes:

  1. Your project (solution) will be based on real data which clearly demonstrate a need. It will therefore have higher chances of being successful in helping change the lives of those involved in the project.
  2. Your corporate partner will be more likely to express interest in your project. Why? Because you have the evidence to show that there is a problem out there and that by working together you can develop a solution with a real impact.

#2 Come up with innovative solutions

When developing a solution, try to think through the framework of innovation. Why hasn’t this problem been solved before? How can you bring in the expertise needed to innovate in this area?

Start by understanding the solutions that are currently available to solve this problem. For instance, let’s assume your charity creates Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (WASH) solutions for people with no access to clean water.

Once you’ve assessed a need among the community, the first thing you want to do is understand how other charities are solving this problem and how their solutions could be improved for your beneficiaries and context. Whether it’s a complex solar powered purification system or a simpler infrastructure, always bring in the expertise to innovate in your area of operation. Once again this will help you on two levels:

  1. Test and implement project solutions that make an impact for people’s lives. Through innovation we have the ability to create things that weren’t there before. And that can make a massive difference for people.
  2. Attract more corporate partners as you are bringing to the table ideas that are fresh, new and revolutionary. Businesses will line up to partner with you if you’re the only one with that particular solution/idea.

#3 Make it relevant

Did you know that the majority of UK charities are missing out on key CSR funding? Do you want to know why?

According to a 2017’s Guardian Opinion article…“almost a third (30%) of charities don’t think the goals [Sustainable Development Goals] are relevant to UK organisations”. Meanwhile, “private companies are jumping on the bandwagon, setting up working groups and integrating the Goals into their corporate social responsibility strategies”.

Charities are missing a trick here

So while charities tend not to align their work to the SDGs, businesses shape entire strategies through them. This means that if your charity is among this 30%, you’re missing out on funding and potential partnerships from the private sector. In fact, businesses are specifically looking for charities that align their work to the Global Goals, for two main reasons:

  1. Thanks to the SDGs, it’s easier for a business to understand if a charity project is aligned to their goals.
  2. Through the SDGs businesses and charities can create projects with a local relevance but a global resonance.

If you don’t want to be among the charities that miss out on CSR funding, start to engage with the SDGs and learn which ones apply to your projects. This will be the starting point for you and your partner as you’ll both speak a shared language and therefore be better off to succeed with the partnership!

#4 Think about long-term sustainability

And with every project creation process, always ask yourself: is it actually going to make to a difference? For how long?

We’re now years ahead of the old-fashioned idea of business giving as a box to be ticked each year. Businesses now seek charities that can make a long-lasting impact with their projects. In other words, you need to think about the long-term results of your projects and how your solution can be self-sustainable once the project ends.

Will the beneficiaries be able to run it by themselves? If not, you’re creating a dependency that will not just harm the communities you’re trying to help, but also hinder your potential to attract corporate partners. So think long-term and make your project sustainable. That’s crucial if you want to succeed in project creation to engage businesses while changing people’s lives.

#5 Make it collaborative

You’re not alone in this. A corporate partner isn’t just a donor. They’re not just there to give you money and disappear. Businesses today want to get involved in project creation, they want to have a say and contribute in helping you shape the solution. So take advantage of that! Talk to them, bring in their expertise. How can they help you make an even greater impact? How can their knowledge and skills add value to the project?

Collaboration is perhaps the most important thing here. It is the one ingredient that will make it possible to combine business’ requests with beneficiaries’ needs into a single project. Talk to your partner, establish an open and transparent communication with them. Make collaboration the centre of each new project and partnership. That’s how you’ll be able to create projects that attract the best corporate partners while making a meaningful difference for people and communities.

Not sure where to start? At G.APP17 we help you find corporate partners that can add real value to your projects. We’re here to make it easy for you to align your work to the SDGs and find corporate partners aligned to your goals and values. Find out how you can get free early access to G.APP17.

Not ready to join yet? Get in touch with any question or just to have a chat!