CDE project 7 sec­tion 1: putting the prin­ci­ples and actions into prac­tise part 2

Written by
The Commission on the Donor Experience
April 26, 2017

What can I do in the future?

(Listed in order of descending priority.)

1. Develop a partnership culture.

Regularly share your partnership opportunities with staff and volunteers in your organisation. Celebrate across the organisation when a connection from outside of the corporate team results in a meeting or a win. Have a slot at team meetings to discuss ideas they may have for supporting the partnership; build up a bank of stories or activities and feedback on the results of their use. Ask your senior leaders to champion the financial and non-financial benefits of corporate partnerships to the organisation as a whole.

2. Deliver on your promises.

Understand your partner’s communications preferences and agree the key performance indicators they’d like reported and how often. Ensure you have the authority to make decisions on behalf of the charity. If you don’t, keep your internal decision-makers well-informed of activities so that decisions can be made quickly, for example, if new opportunities arise or budgets need releasing. Create a partnership plan to ensure you deliver your shared objectives. Within your plan, identify the periods you will need additional internal help, so your partner has continued support and you don’t miss key deadlines. When the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) partnered with Standard Chartered Bank they realized that charities and companies are very different in how they operate and have quite different expectations. So they built a clearly defined governance structure and developed a more ‘joined up’ approach. See the full case study below in Appendix 1.

3. Connect senior with senior.

When charities partner with companies it is important to have an open and effective relationship. Developing a relationship at a senior level is very important. As Richard Cooper of Lloyds Banking Group explains, “At a more junior level, if people haven’t got the authority to agree certain things then it can just go backward and forwards and become a mess. So you need a senior level relationship where you can just say let’s sort out what has to be done and do it”.

4. Develop relationships at all levels.

When a company’s employees become involved in a charity partnership it usually makes the whole partnership deeper and stronger. Employee engagement is a top priority for companies so this is a great opportunity for you to deliver significant benefits for the company. You can offer a combination of employee fundraising and employee volunteering opportunities. Make sure your employee fundraising activities are attractive, tailored for the company and easy to do. Also your employee volunteering opportunities should meet genuine need, be professionally organised and ensure the safety of both volunteers and your beneficiaries. See the case studies below from Blind Veterans UK and Monarch, Football Beyond Borders and Football Radar, and Action for Children and Dairy Crest.

5. Seize the opportunity of ‘social purpose.’

Social purpose is an important business strategy that is replacing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). As Lord Browne, former CEO of BP states, “[CSR] started out as an attempt to improve businesses engagement with society, but it has become a sticking plaster over a company’s issues and an afterthought for the board on a Friday afternoon. That is why CSR has become damaging.” Social purpose goes much further because it puts contribution to society at the centre of business. Companies such as Unilever and Old Mutual are pioneers of social purpose. KPMG describes its purpose as “inspiring confidence and empowering change.” Ten years ago it would have been, “bringing confidence to capital markets.” As Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, says: “This is a great time for brands which can provide a beacon of trust for consumers. These days, CEOs don’t just get judged by how well their share prices are doing, but what impact they are having on society”.

6. Show them the impact.

What makes charity and corporate partnerships special is that they are changing lives. But sometimes, because you are so busy focusing on delivering the partnership, you might forget to include the emotional content. For corporate partnerships to work effectively you need to keep motivating everyone involved. You can do this by setting a big inspiring goal for your partnership (that goes beyond money), show them your work first hand, share powerful stories and tell them how many lives they changed this month. See the case studies below from Action for Children and Dairy Crest, and Claire House Children’s Hospice and Biffa.

7. Tell them how important they are to you. 

When Alzheimer’s Society secured a new partnership with KPMG it was their biggest and most important corporate partner. So when the corporate partnerships team went to meet with their key contacts at KPMG they took a letter from their Chief Executive explaining how delighted he was to be partnering with them.

8. Put a partnership agreement in place.

As a general rule it is good practice to have a partnership agreement in place. This enables you to clarify objectives, expectations and protect both parties if something goes wrong. If your partnership involves a commercial element then you will need to put in place a ‘commercial participators agreement’. If your relationship is based on employee fundraising then a more simple agreement will suffice. More guidance is available in the code of fundraising practice section on the Institute of Fundraising website.

Click on the image below to view project 7 in full - PDF format

About the author: The Commission on the Donor Experience

The CDE has one simple ideal – to place donors at the heart of fundraising. The aim of the CDE is to support the transformation of fundraising, to change the culture to a truly consistent donor-based approach to raising money. It is based on evidence drawn from first hand insight of best practice. By identifying best practice and capturing examples, we will enable these to be shared and brought into common use.

Related case studies or articles

CDE project 7 summary: companies

This project will consider all aspects of the evolving field of corporate partnerships from the perspective of the donor - including directors, senior managers, selection panels and staff to identify ways of enhancing the experience to the benefit of all involved.

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CDE project 7 section 1: the approach and putting the principles and actions into practise part 1

To prepare this report we met with over 100 corporate fundraisers in London and Manchester and gained input from companies. These conversations provided us with some shining examples of charities providing a great experience for companies. They also revealed instances where charities are providing a poor experience.

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CDE project 7 section 2: appendix

Appendix 1: Case studies

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