It can be all too easy to find ourselves in a negative news cycle – the Cost of Living Crisis, the war in Ukraine, the Great Resignation – and imagine that corporate partnerships success is impossible.
But that’s not the case. We’re seeing huge successes from charities of all shapes and sizes right now. As such, in this blog we share five examples – and the lessons they teach us – to demonstrate that there has never been a better time for corporate partnerships.
Libby Kaluna, Senior Partnerships Manager at Acorns Children’s Hospice, shares the importance of knowing when an opportunity is too good to let go.
When an existing partner stopped engaging with the hospice, she knew the partnership was in danger. Rather than bury her head in the sand, she decided to take a bold approach. She contacted the PR agency that represented the company and showed them the marketing benefits the partnership could bring – and the results speak for themselves.
Libby said “we’ve been able to host their CEO for a visit and engage in a marketing campaign to dispel myths associated with Children’s Hospices in addition to fundraising”.
In this case, it would’ve been easy to give up. But by taking a different route to the finish line, Libby opened up a new conversation, and a whole new arm to the partnership.
When you have a consistent ‘menu’ of fundraising activities, it can be easy enough to see your partnership offering as ‘good enough’ and stop there.
Steph Rukin, from TransAid, however knows that ‘good enough’ isn’t good enough and chose to offer some creative extras to her current partners. This led to their partner Goodyear offering the charity a joint PR campaign focusing on the importance of women’s inclusion in the transport industry, featuring a female blimp pilot. With joint PR activations, a raffle of some blimp tickets and some incredible content – this creativity is likely to pay dividends.
It’s worth asking yourself what creative extras you could bring to your partnerships – you might have a blimp-sized idea too!
Make it fun!
Speaking of creativity, Sally Barney shares the highlight of her partnership management career: a “pig off” between Percy and Peppa Pig.
Despite the fact that Marks and Spencer’s and Waitrose consider themselves competitors, Sally was able to bring both partners on board with the same event. This competitive spirit and the joy of the idea led to huge success. This success came through in the event that both retailers sponsored, but also in the ongoing partnership for both parties.
Sally said that “the event brought a smile to faces, helped [both partners] feel great and have a sense of respect for the partnership.”
So be bold, but make sure you let yourself have a little fun.
Lyn Prodger, Partnerships Manager at AFK, tells us that the key to her corporate partnerships success is being consistent.
She gave the example of AFK’s annual beach volleyball event that takes place right by Canary Wharf tube station. Having run it annually, it is now a staple in a number of company calendars – all participants look forward to and it creates a relaxed opportunity to meet face to face.
It’s worth thinking about what consistent elements you can add to your partnership journey. What can you add to the calendar that can build year on year? You could even brainstorm this with a number of your existing partners to ensure it fits.
Last, but by no means least, Momentum told us about the value of taking a “one team” approach to corporate partnerships.
By brainstorming new activities for one of their key partners as a team, they created a competitive challenge called Miles for Momentum. This taught the team a valuable lesson: ownership is always better than buy-in. Because the entire team, and the partner, felt ownership of the event it was a huge success.
One of the key reasons this brainstorm was successful was the fresh energy brought by people outside the corporate fundraising team – it’s always worth knowing you don’t have to do it on your own.
We hope you have enjoyed reading about the five lessons from five account management wins. Perhaps you can take away some of these lessons today and apply it to your current partnerships. If you enjoy learning and sharing with others in the sector, why not join us at our upcoming Partnership Growth Crash Course?