The challenge 

At the start of the pandemic, all charities faced the same challenge. They needed to work out how to talk about themselves in a new way.

Soil Association in particular needed to work out how to speak about their cause in an emotional and relevant way. They needed to find the stories that would emotionally resonate and allow people to understand the benefits of organic and unprocessed food.

Due to this challenge, many of the Soil Association partnerships were commercial partnerships – based on consultancy, or transactions – rather than strategic partnerships based on shared purpose.

The solution 

Remarkable Partnerships coached the Soil Association team over a 6-month period.

We worked with them to understand the emotion behind the cause. Rather than talking about the scientific benefit of their programmes, we asked who they were delivered for and why. Throughout this process, Soil Association discovered their powerful stories.

One story was about a little boy, Nick, who ate cold chicken nuggets for lunch every day. With little nutritional value in his food, he was unable to concentrate in the afternoons – meaning he often acted up at school. Once the Soil Association’s ‘Food for Life’ programme worked with the school, Nick started having healthier lunches. Suddenly, he was much happier in the afternoons. He was able to concentrate, make friends, and do well in school.

The story stopped being about the nutrients and started being about the outcome.

We also worked with the team to focus their prospect list, ensuring they were working on a short pipeline of qualified companies. This enabled them to build fewer, bigger partnerships that would stand the test of time.

Finally, we coached them on how to build partnerships based on shared purpose. This enabled them to be far more creative with their approach, and build a partnership that in their own words “they could not see how they could say no to.”

Key benefits

The results of this work was incredible.

They were able to build a 3-year partnership with Blue Diamond, the second largest garden centre in the UK.  This was to engage their millions of loyalty card member holders with the benefits of allowing parts of their garden to grow wild.  They built a cause related marketing product and are proudly engaging their shared audience.

They were able to renew a number of key partnerships that were in danger of lapsing, and were also able to take their new confidence to a huge range of commercial partners. They have gone from strength to strength since then, securing partnerships with Sainsburys, Nando’s, Arla Foods and Yeo Valley.  They are continuing to take that shared purpose partnership approach and have really exciting conversations to this day.