Quit with the gratitude

I’m tired of hearing about the ‘economic crisis’ as a reason for not achieving fundraising targets. It’s what it is. It’s the new normal.

The charities that are achieving and exceeding targets today are the ones that accept this new normal and are responding to the needs of their supporters.

This is especially true in corporate partnerships. Companies no longer have budgets for making donations to charities in the same way that they did 5 or ten years ago. Their world has changed. They have to work smarter and leaner.

Companies are now looking for charity partnerships to help them drive more business, to increase their profit margins. This could be in a number of ways including;

  • Selling more product by donating a % of profit to charity
  • Engaging their staff with charitable events or volunteering which serves to build team working and moral which means that staff stay longer (its bloody expensive to recruit and train staff)
  • Enhance their brand; large supermarket chains intent on world domination at all costs are also the most sought after corporate charity partner of the year – this is no coincidence.

Successful partnerships are those that are that are partnerships. They are equal on both sides. They are not a parent – child relationship where the company does a nice thing and gives to charity. There are clear benefits for both the charity and the company.

A couple of years ago I heard Mike Barry, Head of Sustainable Business at M&S speak at a conference. He was talking about the excellent partnership between Oxfam and M&S; if you donate your unwanted M&S clothes into an Oxfam shop, you receive a £5 voucher to spend in M&S. It helped M&S get more people through their doors and helped Oxfam get more donated goods in their shops. You can read more about the partnership here.  Mike said something like…..

‘I don’t care about kids in Africa, I just care about doing my job; this is about increasing footfall in store and delivering Plan A’

So when I look on the ‘corporate support’ section on charity websites it makes me really cross to read things like  ‘thank you so much to nameless grey company for your kind support. It’s not out of kindness that they are supporting your charity – its part of their business strategy.Some people in the room stopped breathing out of shock. But frankly he summed it up. For M&S the partnership was about delivering a corporate strategy and Oxfam helped them do that. And M&S helped Oxfam raise a considerable amount of money to fund a range of international projects to tackle poverty. And that’s OK. This is how it is.

So check your own charity website. Are you really grateful to nameless grey company?

Shouldn’t you be saying about you helped nameless grey company? Shouldn’t our websites read something more like this?

‘We are working with nameless grey company and together have raised £10,000 to help young families, through in store product promotions, we have helped them to grow their business – through our extensive membership network we have enhanced their brand and given them opportunity to reach 100,000s young mums who have benefited from their products’

So quit with the gratitude and start with the partnership. The next time you are planning your pitch for a corporate partnership, really think about what their business challenge is, *if you want to work with them, and if so, how you can help them sell more stuff, stop their staff leaving, increase their profit margins and out position their brand against the competition.

To do this you have to know what they need. Spend time doing your research. Get out from behind your desk, if it’s a retailer go there. Speak to the staff, speak to customers, buy something – was it a good experience? Find out as much as you can about their needs and then show them how you can help solve their business problems. And be really clear on what you need from them to help you to solve yours. These are the partnerships that will succeed and grow today – in the new normal.

*the ethics of corporate charity partnerships is another blog

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