Last week we saw that when it comes to creating change, charity partnerships with multiple stakeholders are the best solution (feel free to catch up here). There’s no ‘either…or’ between people, planet and profit. That’s right! By choosing to partner up with charities, businesses can be not just the best in the world, but the best for the world.

But we know, that comes with challenges… So today we’re going to explore what are the main challenges that businesses face when partnering with charities. And of course, some tips about what you can do to get it right.

Have you ever thought about how different businesses and charities are?

Ever asked yourself if your work with charity partners is making an impact?

Have you ever felt alone in trying to be a force for good?

Well, you’ve come to the right place. Keep on reading and together we’ll try to understand the best strategy to make the most out of your charity partnerships.

Challenge #1: business and non-profit are two different worlds

This is no secret… Even though the boundaries between the two sectors are always more blurred, the challenge still remains. Businesses and non-profit organisations are different and speak different jargons, making it difficult to be clear with and understand each other.

And setting up a partnership is in fact no easy job. Think about all those days you were about to give up because you couldn’t come to an agreement. Or those moments you felt just a money-pot, always there to donate but with not much in return. And what about all those times you were sure your views were way too different from your charity partners’?

Well, this should no longer be a challenge for your business. Let’s leave this in the past, shall we?

Tip: be strategic, difference means richness

There is plenty of research on the mutual benefits to be gained from charity partnerships. In a recent post we’ve discussed how a Greg Secker Foundation‘s study reveals that if people knew a UK business gave a small percentage of profits to charity:

➢ 43 per cent would have a more positive opinion of the company.
➢ 20 per cent would use the company over competitors.
➢ 17 per cent would recommend the company to friends/family.

But how do we get there? The answer is mutual understanding. Because difference means richness, and embracing difference means ensuring your charity partnerships become truly strategic. And here are a few steps you can follow.

  1. Make sure you choose a charity aligned to your goals and values, those of your business and your employees. Be absolutely clear and open on what you can offer to and need from your charity partner. This will not only improve mutual understanding, but also guarantee the strategic nature of your partnership.
  2. Embrace difference. Always bear in mind that your charity partner is an expert on what communities need, so make sure you follow their advice on what kind of projects are best. This will allow you to broaden your perspectives, learn from experts of the field and make something amazing together.
  3. Building a strategic relationship takes time, and especially for a small team time means money. It’d be much easier to just make a donation and focus on your everyday operations, we get it. But you’d be missing the chance to actually make an impact. So what if I told you there’s a way you can build a strategic partnership and still focus on running your business?

It’s time to look for innovative ways to connect with charity partners: learn how now.

Challenge #2: Aligning your goals

Confusion can be an obstacle if you’re now shifting from a typical ad-hoc charity donation model to a more strategic and impact-oriented one. We hear you. What does strategic even means?

It’s important to choose a charity that is close to your heart, we all want to be involved in projects that we care about. But it also makes sense to combine this emotional aspect of charity giving with a business purpose. If we are to build partnerships that make a difference for communities while also improving our company’s reputation and competitive advantage we need to think strategically. Profit and purpose are not enemies.

Nevertheless you’re right. It’s easy to say, find a charity partner that aligns to your goals. But much harder to do it. We said it before, business and non-profit are two very different worlds, so how do you even know if your objectives are aligned with a charity?

Tip: think big

If you are willing to take the previous steps, this one should come naturally.

Think about what really drives you and your business. What’s your goal, your vision, where are you going? That’s your starting point. If you think about your long-term vision you’ll be able to identify a cause that it’s not just close to your heart as a person, but also as a business.

And that’s why I’d like to suggest the adoption of a great framework to align your goals to. The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): the blueprint for long-term strategic partnerships. Why? Because they allow you to associate your charity support to a greater cause to which millions of people, businesses and non-profits are now contributing. Making a global impact but starting from the actions we take in our local communities.

SDGs for business charity partnerships

So start by picking the Global Goals that matter the most to you and your company. Find charities that work towards your chosen SDGs and inspire others to do the same. You’ll become a champion of strategic charity partnerships.

Challenge #3: Are you actually making an impact?

It’s when you finally think you’re doing a great job that this question comes to mind. Are we and our charity partner making a real impact? Is my support actually helping? And if so, how?

Well, let me tell you something here. If all your charity efforts are fragmented, if you have no information about how you’re helping communities or even who you’re helping… Then it’s very difficult to know if you’re making a real impact.

But measuring impact is not just knowing where your money ended up. Can you tell the difference between “we have donated £2,000 to charity” and “we have helped 100 young people return to education”? It’s another story isn’t it? In fact, it is a story. And this story is telling you, your employees, clients and stakeholders that you’re making a real difference out there.

Tip: bi-directional impact monitoring

A partnership implies (at least) two parties: you – the business – and your charity partner. This means that your business should also be involved in the impact monitoring process.

Let me explain what this means. To make a partnership work you need to rely on collaboration and sharing responsibility. We said it before, being clear and open is the key. So make sure you set out everything before starting a project. Share your goals, targets, and priorities. And most importantly, ask this question from the very beginning: what do we want from this partnership?

This will allow you to have a bi-directional conversation on the impact you’ll make and enable the charity to respect your goals and meaure outcomes accordingly. If you don’t tell them what you need to know, how’re they supposed to inform you about it?

So now that you have embraced difference, aligned your goals with your charity partner’s and a global agenda, set key targets to measure real impact… telling a story about change should be a piece of cake. Good luck!

Still unsure?

So many things to think about while partnering up with a charity, isn’t it? We know… it’s ok if you’re still unsure on how to best tackle these challenges, we’ll be more than happy to talk about it.

In fact, we are here exactly to make sure that you can build strategic partnerships at the best of your possibilities, and with no confusion along the way.

Or do you feel ready to start making a difference for everyone’s future? Are you eager to become part of a global movement for change? Sign up and register your interest to join our beta test, it’s free.

What are you waiting for? Discover G.APP17 and make the most out of your charity partnerships!