Helen Keller once said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” Isn’t it true that the reason we have corporate-charity partnerships is because the charity cannot achieve its mission without support. If a charity could solve all of its challenges itself, wouldn’t it have done so already?
Once together, corporate–charity partnerships are just like any relationship, they need to be nurtured. On the surface it may look like two organisations coming together, however those organisations are made up of people who are responsible for maximising the potential of the partnership so it can thrive.
However, sometimes relationships are neglected in pursuit of new opportunities (new business). At Remarkable Partnerships, we champion existing partners being shown all the attention they need, and offering them a 5 star experience. Maintaining and growing partnerships, should be a key part of your corporate partnerships strategy.
So here are our recommendations for delivering that 5 star experience to ensure your partnerships go from strength to strength.
Create a partnership growth plan
Firstly, make a plan. Without a plan, how do we know where we are all going? From all the charities we interact with, we know the most successful partnerships are those built on solid foundations where the two organisations can come together and agree objectives, and how to achieve them. Why not consider having a quarterly partnership meeting, where you look at your KPIs and make a joint plan on how you are going to move towards them in the next quarter? Getting the partners buy-in will help them feel part of the team, and part of the journey to partnership success.
Build relationships at all levels
Partnerships can often go flat once a key contact moves on, and then it takes forever to build the same rapport with your new contact. Our recommendation would be to broaden your contacts as soon as possible. Are your CEO’s connected, and your marketing teams? The deeper and broader your relationships are, the better the day to day partnership experience will be for your partner. If a contact at your partner can talk to their peer at your charity, rather than always going via yourself as gatekeeper, wouldn’t that help everyone? They talk the same language, so encourage them to connect.
Deliver on your promises
Successful partnerships are built on trust. Trust is broken if you promise something and never deliver – it could be a certain document by a deadline, a video of one of your beneficiaries that is never sent, or as simple as the notes from a meeting that you promised you would write up. Little things like this can be frustrating for people working in a fast moving organisation. Make a personal commitment to always deliver on what you promise to a partner, then plan your time accordingly. They will value and acknowledge your excellent relationship skills, and then trust is built for bigger and better things down the line. Once you have achieved this, consider how you can occasionally over deliver – surprise the partner by going above and beyond for them to show how much your partnership matters.
Show them the impact
The greatest inspiration for a partner is to show them the impact they are making. It’s time to get creative about this subject, as with many restrictions on visits that people could make to see your work in action, now is the time to go digital.
Some great examples and ideas we have seen:
- SolarAid created a great thank you video, including in-country colleagues. They edited in photos and words of the impact their corporate partner had made and sent it to be distributed to all staff of one of the company.
- SOS Sumatran Orangutan Society have shared incredible photography of ‘before and after’ tree planting of forests funded by partners. ‘Before and after’ images can be really visually captivating and show the continued need for the partnership.
- Sharing a ‘story of the week’ with partners can be a great way to show impact little and often. Keep it simple and drop the story into their inbox and say “I saw this and wanted to share as it made me smile, thank you for all of your support”
Now is the time to seize the moment and creatively think about what would work best from your beneficiaries to your partners. How about seeking some gift in kind support from a designer that could help you create infographics about your work, or a videographer to edit together content you haven’t utilised yet? If you try this, let us know how you get on!
Increase the breadth of your partnership
Many partnerships start with one activity, such as employee fundraising. Our recommendations for providing a 5 star experience is enabling your partner to strengthen the partnership by adding another activity which helps deliver additional value for the company and your charity. So you could add an activity such as a cause-related marketing promotion or a joint digital campaign. Broadening and deepening your activity will increase the value and longevity of your partnership.
Offer them a new opportunity
New opportunities shouldn’t just be reserved for new business. Indeed, your greatest corporate partnership opportunities are growing your existing relationships. In order to identify these opportunities we recommend you hold a brainstorm with key internal colleagues. Start by clarifying your shared purpose, then understanding the company’s business priorities. One you have those established you can brainstorm ideas. We recommend you pitch your best ideas to your partner. Then if they are interested in taking them forwards you could organise a co-creation session involving relevant colleagues from both parties. In fact the process we have just described is how Age Concern grew their partnership with Innocent drinks from raising £20,000 in 2005 to £200,000 in 2007. And their partnership is still going strong today!
We encourage you to freshen up your current partnerships and ensure you are delivering a 5 star experience by following these recommendations. If there’s anything we can help with, we’d love to hear from you. Feel free to get in touch by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org