4 recommendations to build high value corporate partnerships

Whether you are a chief executive, a fundraising director, or a corporate partnerships manager, you want to build high value corporate partnerships. These partnerships will help you deliver more value for less effort for your charity and your corporate partners. Notice that I’m using the word “value” not “income” because corporate partnerships can deliver significant non-financial value too, such as increased reach, skills, and introductions to other companies.

So here are our 4 recommendations to build high value corporate partnerships.

Focus on the company’s pain

People buy for two reasons: to seek pleasure or avoid pain. And we will spend a lot more money to avoid pain, rather than seek pleasure (which is why insurance companies make so much money!)

When you engage a corporate prospect you want to find their pain. I don’t just mean the company, think about the pain of the business decision maker who you want to meet. There are several ways to discover their pain. The best way is to ask them to tell you their greatest challenges or ask someone you know who works in their company or the same industry. You can also do a brainstorm with colleagues to come up with suggestions. The more you practice looking for the pain the better you will become at finding it.

Once you have a clear picture of their pain you want to build a tailored partnership opportunity that helps solve it. For example, #NHSSweatySelfie (the partnership between Gym Shark and Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity) was so successful because it helped solved the company’s pain of low awareness, by generating over 35,000 social media posts and enormous publicity. It also raised £180,000 for the charity.

Calculate your value

Shiv Khera, author and self-help expert, said, “90% of sales is conviction and 10% is persuasion.” A great way to increase your conviction to a sale is to calculate the value your partnership can deliver for the company.

We did this exercise with a charity recently and they estimated that they had £1million of value to offer their prospective partner. This calculation significantly increased their confidence to negotiate a high value partnership.

A great way to calculate your value is to identify the different ways your partnership could help the company. For example:

  • Colleagues – what effect will your partnership have on employee retention and recruitment? (according to Gallup the cost of replacing an employee can range from one-half to two times their annual salary). 
  • Publicity – what would be the cost of buying advertising space that would generate this positive publicity? 
  • Sales – what would be the cost of hiring a sales agency to organise a similar activity?
  • Brand – what is the value of being associated with your brand?

If you add these answers together you will have an estimated value of your partnership.

Engage them emotionally

People buy for emotional reasons, then justify their decision with logical reasons. Think about any purchase that you made recently, and you will realise this is the case.

This means that you need to engage company decision makers on an emotional level. And the best way to do that is tell them a powerful story.

When you engage companies emotionally it increases their commitment to partnering with you. So not only do they see that your partnership opportunity has commercial value, they also feel a deep need to help you solve the problem. This deep need helps unlock so much more value. It moves your partnership opportunity from “we could do this” to “we must do this.”

Play the long game

Building corporate partnerships is a marathon not a sprint. If you try and secure a partnership quickly you are likely to end up with something small and transactional. However, if you play the long game you can unlock the enormous potential of your partnership. Think of your partnership as having three locks where you need to turn the key for all three to open the door. These are the three keys:

  • Your relationship
  • The emotional case
  • The business case

So you need to spend time building each of these. For example, this could mean you meet with them six times over a period of 12-18 months. Afterall, it takes time:

  • To really get to know someone and build a trusting relationship.
  • To engage them emotionally with your cause. You need to tell them multiple stories and show them your work first hand.
  • To understand their business pain and objectives and show how you can help deliver them.

If you take the time to build these three factors and get each of them to 10 out of 10 you can unlock a high value partnership.


Building high value partnerships is the ultimate goal when it comes to corporate partnerships. These are the 20% of your partners that deliver 80% of the value. These are the partnerships that last and last and help you create a sustainable corporate partnerships programme.

If you want to find out how we can help you build high value corporate partnerships then email jonathan@remarkablepartnerships.com

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