The best partnerships are built on strong foundations

Successful partnerships for sustainable fundraising logo

Daniel Fluskey | 4 August 2016

In the charity sector ‘relationships’ are everywhere. Relationships between trustee boards and fundraising teams, between charities and donors, and between charities and agencies or third parties they work with. Getting these relationships working well and positively is absolutely key to delivering the excellent fundraising that we want to see.

We’ve been working on all three of these areas over recent months, and today we have published a new practical guide for charities working with agencies to help all fundraisers and charities build long-term and successful partnerships.

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This area has of course been under focus over the last year, and with the new requirements of the Charities Act 2016 bringing in additional contract and reporting requirements for charities working with professional fundraisers it’s the right time to review how charities and agencies can best work together to deliver the high quality fundraising activities that supporters expect and deserve. 

It is beyond doubt that fundraising agencies, suppliers, and third parties have played a crucial role in the development and success of fundraising in the UK. The capacity, expertise, insight, and innovation that partners have provided has enabled charities to grow, reach new supporters, and do more work towards achieving their objectives. 

But, like any relationship, if the right foundations aren’t in place then you’re likely to run into problems. Getting it right takes time, thought, and effort not just in the establishment of the relationship, but all the way through. To put it simply, if you can’t do it right, you shouldn’t be doing it. For those who want to get it right, our new guide is there to help you. It takes charities through the different aspects of working with a fundraising agency, from planning and preparation, establishing the terms of the partnership, and monitoring, reviewing and evaluation. 

To get the best kind of fundraising engagement with supporters and the public, agencies and charities should be co-creating and agreeing plans, activities, and objectives. Of course any agency or third party that is doing the fundraising has to make sure they get it right, treating donors fairly and with respect and following the Code of Fundraising Practice, but the charity has a responsibility to ensure that the approaches made in their name and on their behalf are of a high quality and standard. Charities should also be thinking about their approach to working with an agency and how their actions and decisions at each stage can impact on establishing a successful partnership with a third party – thinking about how charities can act as ‘good customers’ can make a real difference to the quality and sustainability of fundraising with a partner. 

A partnership with an agency can bring significant benefits but it should never be a decision any charity takes lightly, or thought of as an easy option which outsources risk but takes the reward. I hope our guide will help charities and agencies work together to establish the successful partnerships that not only deliver value in the short term, but create long-term sustainable relationships with supporters that are the basis of excellent fundraising. 

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