“A vision without a strategy remains an illusion.” – Lee Bolman
I have to confess that in the first 20 years of my career I didn’t think that strategy was very important. However, since I became a consultant and started advising business and charity leaders, I am convinced of its importance. A lack of strategy results in a scatter gun approach, that feels chaotic and usually fails. By contrast, the presence of strategy gives you focus and consistency and dramatically increases your chances of success.
Because it is so important, I want to share the following five features of a successful corporate partnerships strategy.
1. Share your vision
When I was at Action for Children I received some valuable advice from Gordon Edington, Property Director of BAA. We were speaking about our strategy and he said, “Imagine that you are building a beautiful, gleaming factory on top of a hill. And that factory consistently produces brilliant corporate partnerships.” I loved this image and I shared it with my team.
Your vision is your powerful why that you and your team strive for. So make it feel inspiring, unique and memorable. It will keep you focused and motivated, even in the toughest of moments.
2. Include valuable insight
The pandemic showed us the importance of science and data, so we recommend you include some in your strategy. When we help charities build corporate partnerships strategies we always recommend we interview their partners and prospects. We ask them what challenges they are facing, what do they love about the charity and what do they want them to improve.
We are always amazed by the quality of insight that these interviews provide. And we use that insight to shape the strategy. As my colleague Hannah Hockin said, “So much of strategy is opinion, but partner and prospect insight is data.”
3. What makes you different?
Maya Angelou said, “At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”
How will you stand out from the crowd? How will you make people feel?
A proven method of defining your difference is identifying your principles. For example, when NSPCC launched their famous Full Stop Campaign one of their fundraising principles was, “Opening hearts, opening minds, opening cheque books.”
4. Manage risk
Delivering success will require you to take calculated risks. So we recommend you include a risk register in your strategy. The first step is to write down the list of risks. Then rank each one based on likelihood and potential impact. Lastly, identify what you will do to mitigate each risk.
Having a risk register will not only help you avoid unnecessary disaster, it will also help you get senior management on board, because they will welcome your thorough and considered approach.
5. Involve your team and colleagues
The best way to build your strategy is to involve your team and relevant colleagues from the start. We recommend you invite them to a workshop to help you create the building blocks of your strategy, including:
- Your vision
- High level priorities
- The change you want to make happen
Keep involving them as you develop the strategy. And hold a meeting to share it when it’s finished. Your team and colleagues are much more likely to buy into a strategy which they have helped build.
We hope you have found this blog both useful and inspiring. If you have any thoughts on corporate partnerships strategy we would love to hear from you. Please email us at: email@example.com
If you are responsible for creating your corporate partnerships strategy you might also be interested in attending our Advanced Corporate Partnerships Masterclass on 27th April in Central London, which includes a session focused on strategy.