5 mistakes to avoid when building corporate partnerships

Written by Georgina Oxlade, Director of Operations, Remarkable Partnerships.

Success isn’t just about what you do. It’s also about what you don’t do. We see charities make the same mistakes again and again. Then they get disheartened when the results don’t come. So, here are our five recommendations of mistakes to avoid when building corporate partnerships:

1. Stop sending proposals too early

One common mistake is when a proposal is sent after the first meeting. The goal of a first meeting is to secure a second meeting, so sending a proposal stops the opportunity to build a strong relationship, and to truly understand the potential of a long-term strategic partnership.

We often liken this bad habit to proposing after a first date, it scares people away! So take your time, continue to meet and present opportunities that meet to the company’s business objectives, and wait for the right time when you all agree that the ideas need to be put into a proposal and the budget has been discussed.

2. Stop asking

Charities that continue to ask for companies support, rather than pitch an opportunity are missing the opportunity to present themselves as an equal partner, with a lot to offer.

If you are able to find a shared purpose with a company that aligns with your charities mission, and present them an opportunity that help them achieve their business objectives, you are far more likely to succeed.  Lisa from HFT, Learning Disability Allies says “Since shifting from asking to offering with the corporate prospects I am speaking to, it has been a gamechanger. No longer do companies ignore my communications, but instead they are keen to meet with me to hear how a partnership with our charity can help them”.

3. Stop sending blanket emails

Having received an email in to my own inbox this week from someone trying to sell me something that was clearly generic, I know that it didn’t make me feel special, in fact, it put me off completely. So, I just pressed delete.

Sue Vincent from HVA said “I realised this was what we were doing as a charity, so I stopped my Trustees sending a mass mailing to attract corporate support. Instead we invested the same time in approaching one or two quality contacts, and are seeing far better results”.

The most powerful tool for to secure a first meeting is a warm introduction, so get Trustees and senior management to make a few quality introductions, with a powerful first email to them to secure that first meeting.

4. Stop ignoring the companies culture

Each company has its own culture, values, and operational style. Charities are still making the mistake of imposing their own processes and expectations without considering the company. This mismatch can lead to the company not feeling understood or valued.

Take the time to understand your partner’s company culture and adapt your approach accordingly. Flexibility and sensitivity to their way of working will result in a stronger partnership that lasts for longer.

5. Stop neglecting partners

Clear, consistent communication is vital in any partnership. Unfortunately, many charities make the mistake of irregular or insufficient communication with their corporate partners, especially when things get busy. This can lead to misunderstandings, unmet expectations, and ultimately, a weakened partnership. In a competitive partnership environment, this is the last thing you want. Five star account management processes are key.

During the Lloyds Banking Group and BBC Children in Need partnership, the team created monthly opportunities for face to face meetings, as well as quarterly review meetings where both sides scored the partnership on progress against its key objectives. It was the points of difference that became the topic of the meetings to resolve them.


Corporate-charity partnerships hold so much potential for driving social change. However, to unlock this potential, charities should avoid these common mistakes.

If you are able adjust your ways if working, you will not only enhance your current partnerships, but support your new business potential, ultimately increasing your charity’s impact and reach.

If you have feedback on this blog, or have questions about our services related maximising your corporate partnerships potential, please contact: georgina@remarkablepartnerships.com.

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