Partnerships can help corporate organisations and charities pursue common goals. These 8 tips will help you get started
“Corporate-charity partnerships should never be one way. Increasingly, companies are searching for strategic charity partnerships to achieve popularised goals for corporate social responsibility, human resources or public relations. Partnerships are no longer restricted to financial transaction,”
Corporate-charity partnerships bring benefits to both sides, such improved public visibility, enhanced fundraising power, and an increased audience reach. Here are our top tips to help build and nurture these partnerships:
1. Positive branding and messaging attract corporate sponsors
Ensuring that your charity has a positive public image is important for corporate sponsors. Public trust in private organisation is low. MissionBox, points out that only 37% of the public trust business leaders, whereas an nfpSynergy survey found that 52% of people trust charities. Promoting trust, ethics and transparency within the partnership can help attract and grow successful relationships.
2. Be aware of corporate trends
Senior charity leaders should be aware of what makes business leaders tick when it comes to looking for non-profit partners. Charitable Advisors says that companies are thinking about community impact, accountability, and funding for non-profits. For charities, these corporate aims tie neatly with the sector’s well vocalised community impact reporting and transparency around use of funds. For new relationships, charity digital leaders should make sure to present awareness of corporate aims, and how to improve on them.
3. Make sure that the companies you partner with are a good fit
Brand agency Bond+Coyne recommends that charities look for how they can align with a company’s products, services and values. To build a successful partnership, the agency recommends considering how charities can enhance a partner’s existing or future campaign.
When looking for corporate partners, make sure they are a strategic fit for charity purpose or cause. Digital inclusion charity Good Things Foundation offers free digital skills courses in partnership with BT. As both organisations are directly involved in digital, each brings operational expertise to the programme. By combining efforts, BT and Good Things Foundation were able to drive the mission to increase digital inclusion.
4. Make sure your ask is specific
CAF recommends that small charities “be confident and clear about the specifics of what’s required,” so that the funding or help-in-kind received is clearly defined in the partnership. The Juice Academy and Hootsuite have formed a partnership where digital marketing apprentices are trained to use the social media platform and granted free licenses. Hootsuite also funds a place for people who run digital programmes at charities, so that selected individuals receive professional training. For programmes like these, the deliverables and asks from each organisation must be clear and defined.
5. Marketing together
Working together on marketing plans can also increase engagement with corporate partners. US-based software provider iRaiser says that by creating a joint digital marketing campaign, organisations can combine the “forces and strengths from all departments; digital, corporate teams, fundraising and social from both the charity and corporate partner.” On a more practical level, the addition of all digital channels, email distribution lists, celebrity influencers, social media outlets, digital advertising, website, and public relationships opportunities across both organisations can increase reach and result in more powerful digital marketing campaigns.
6. Digital fundraising together
Corporate partnerships aligned along mutual goals can push engagement and create successful digital fundraising campaigns. A partnership between the WWF and Octopus Energy created a compelling Earth Hour campaign last year. Both organisations took to social media to advertise. During the campaign, Octopus donated £5 for every one of its customers who reduced their energy consumption by half during that hour. WWF, the organisers of the movement, benefited from Octopus’ direct customer reach and funding.
7. Clear and measurable goals help measure impact
Measuring impact has never been more important in the charity space. To engage with corporate partners, having clearly defined, measurable goals towards progress is central to keeping the relationship on track. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes typically need to let business investors and stakeholders know where their funds have made a difference. For charities, this means focusing on how progress is tracked. Constituent relationship management tools (CRM) can help charities make sure that performance indicators are monitored throughout the donation process.
8. Engage with CSR teams and employees
Thinking about the bigger picture can help charity digital leaders engage with larger businesses. Corporate CSR programmes may be looking for ways to engage employees through volunteering or events. Crowdfunding company Classy says that employees can be recruited for large or small one-off volunteering opportunities, vastly increasing charity workforce capacity at no charge. For charities, designing engagement with employees can also have the added benefit of increasing peer-to-peer digital funding opportunities.