Securing that ‘perfect’ partnership
Building a new corporate partnership that delivers vital income and wider benefits for your charity – whilst meaningfully offering value to the organisation – is hard work. When chatting to other corporate fundraisers, some common themes emerge about the challenges we face.
1. “I know the types of partnerships I want to be building, but I can’t reach the right people...”
2. “Do I go for Charity of the Year applications or do I try and create a corporate partnership outside of this process..?”
3. “How do I bring the rest of the charity with me..?”
Do any of these feel familiar? In a session at the upcoming IoF Corporate Partnerships Conference, we will be exploring how to address these barriers. In the meantime, here are a few top tips to get you thinking:
“I know the types of partnerships I want to be building, but I can’t reach the right people”
You might have a dream list of companies lined up, with a clear understanding of how you’d work together. But desk-based research will only ever go so far. Without setting up meetings, you won’t know the company’s longer-term priorities and where your charity partnership might fit into that.
So how do you get those meetings?
Start with who you know – people who are already aware of the fantastic work your charity does. It might be your Chief Executive or a trustee who knows someone at the company you’re hoping to work with. But equally, it might be the person sat across you. Or a volunteer with a personal connection. Think about how you can get the word out – go to team meetings, use your staff intranet or set up a competition for colleagues to explore their networks.
Make sure that you feel passionate about the difference the charity is making and are talking about it to people you meet. I once complimented someone’s tie in a lift. He asked what I was doing in the building. I told him I was meeting with a company to try to save the lives of people with blood cancer. He worked for a different company within the building, so we exchanged business cards. Telling a powerful and personal story is one of the best ways to get people to agree to meetings.
“Do I go for Charity of the Year applications or do I try and create a corporate partnership outside of this process?”
Charity of the Year proposals are tempting because they offer a clear structure for success. However, these processes often take huge resource and you’re up against many other worthwhile causes.
To focus your time, identify where you think there’s an especially strong fit, or where you have a charity champion within the business. Set out a rough target of how many Charity of the Year applications you’d like to submit – if a new opportunity comes up and you want to apply, take something else off your list. Don’t forget that Charity of the Year might also be a longer-term goal for an existing corporate partner.
Alongside this, work on securing shared-value partnerships. Get to know a company and their needs, explore how you can work together to solve each other’s problems.
“How do I bring the rest of the charity with me?”
One of the biggest challenges for a corporate fundraiser is that meaningful partnerships can take a long time to develop. On average, you’re looking at around two years from initial conversations to launching a partnership. How do you keep your colleagues inspired when the end results seem so far off?
At Anthony Nolan, we have a weekly gathering to celebrate success and get a ‘high five’. Forums like this are a great opportunity to let colleagues know the steps along the journey to winning a corporate partnership. That might be securing a meeting with someone you’d love to work with, or sharing feedback from someone who has been to see your work. Often these steps will have involved support from other teams and it’s important to thank them. When you do finally launch that partnership, it will (and should) feel like everyone’s success.
Laura Solomons, Senior New Business Manager at Anthony Nolan
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