Corporate partnerships: is there a ‘silver bullet’?

Werewolves and corporate partnerships.

Legend has it that you can slay a werewolf with a single silver bullet. So the ‘silver bullet’ has become a metaphor for there being a simple answer or solution to a particular challenge.

If we apply this thinking to corporate partnerships, is there a simple answer to help charities be successful at securing and growing partnerships with companies? In my mind I want the answer to be yes, indeed it is human nature to try and find simple answers and short cuts. But my experience suggests otherwise. I believe success is best achieved by focusing on a number of different factors. So there is no silver bullet for corporate partnerships.

Sir Dave Brailsford’s Olympic success

To explain my thinking let me tell you about someone who led a team to achieve remarkable success in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. His name is Sir Dave Brailsford and he was performance director of British Cycling.

He inherited a team that was producing average results, so he came up with a very powerful method that produced a dramatic improvement in performance. He calls it ‘the concept of marginal gains’. Rather than asking his team to focus on creating a huge step change in results, he said let’s focus on all the different factors that affect performance and aim to improve each one by a small amount. Then if you add together all those marginal gains it creates a really significant improvement.

“The whole principle came from the idea that if you broke down everything you could think of that goes into riding a bike, and then improved it by 1%, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together.” – Sir Dave Brailsford.

Brailsford’s team examined all the different factors that affect a cyclist’s performance including clothing, tyres, aerodynamics, diet, recovery and even the pillow they used when staying in hotels! They made small improvements in each one and the cumulative result was stunning. Altogether his team won 16 gold medals in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. Also he led Team Sky to win the Tour de France with Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome in 2012 and 2013 respectively.

Key factors for corporate partnerships success

We can apply the concept of marginal gains to corporate partnerships as well. If we identify all the different factors that affect success and we improve each of them a little, we can create a significant increase in performance.

So what are some key factors that drive corporate partnerships success? I’ve listed some of the main ones below, along with a short definition:

  • Focus On Top Prospects – it is crucial that you know who your top prospects are. These should be companies that have a strong fit with your charity and would benefit from a partnership with you.
  • Passion – passion is the positive emotional commitment that you bring to your corporate partnerships. It helps you bring a determination to your cause and it’s infectious so your corporate partners feel passionate too.
  • Securing Meetings and Networking – this is your ability to secure meetings with your target companies. It requires strong influencing and communication skills, especially on the phone.
  • Powerful Pitching and Presenting – this is your ability to create and deliver powerful and effective pitches and presentations. The aim is for your presentations to be extraordinary, creative and moving.
  • Proactive and Results Focused – this is ensuring that you are taking action on a daily basis to deliver the agreed objectives for your partners and to secure major new partnerships. It requires persistence and dedication.

These are just a few examples and I’m sure you can think of many more. I have identified twenty in total.

A formula for success

This approach is very exciting because it makes success so much more achievable. What Sir Dave Brailsford did was breakdown the formula for success into something that felt possible and people could focus on a daily basis.

Indeed this approach has inspired me to create a Corporate Partnerships Assessment and Growth Plan which you can read more about here.

If you want to discuss how you can increase your corporate partnerships success then please contact me on 07789 871 496 or email me at

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