Hidden opportunities 

Written by Peter Chiswick, Director of Corporate, Remarkable Partnerships. 

Paintbrush story 

When I was working for a global technology company in a sales strategy role, I was asked to attend a volunteering day at a local charity with other heads of department, including colleagues from IT, HR and Marketing. We all arrived with a real sense of anticipation, and real excitement that we could use our collective talent to make a huge impact for the charity. So you can imagine our surprise when we were shown into a yard with pots of paint and paint brushes, and told to paint a wall. We tried to explain that we wanted to use our skills to help support the charity’s needs. Despite our best efforts, they simply couldn’t understand the opportunity we were offering. So we went back to the yard and the paint pots, picked up the brushes and began to paint.  

I knew from that moment that I wanted to change the way charities and companies worked together to create real value, but I had no idea where to start.   

Series of missed opportunities 

As I continued to work within the corporate sector, I did manage to make minor changes along the way,  by setting up small scale employee pro-bono activities which focused on developing employee skills as part of their annual performance review. Although there were positive results, my company was still not convinced as to the value that charities could bring. Things quickly went back to normal, only wanting to invest in one off, ad-hoc transactional relationships. 

The power of purpose 

Then, the pandemic changed everything. I noticed there was sudden increase in expectation from society for organisations to demonstrate they were purpose-driven. Companies started to respond, by publicly stating they understood the importance of leading with purpose by seeing this as a once in a lifetime opportunity to transform and redefine their organisations for the future. With purpose at the centre, it was used as a compass to guide decision-making and deliver wider stakeholder impact.    

Key corporate research organisations such as Forbes and Harvard provided evidence that purpose led companies were outperforming their competition, building loyalty and reputation with their customers, unleashing the power of employees and attracting and keeping the best talent. McKinsey endorsed this opinion by confirming that  “Winning companies are driven by purpose, reach higher for it, and achieve more because of it.” 

Taking advantage of the new economic climate, I left the corporate sector to become a consultant for Remarkable Partnerships. Even though I could see the momentum building towards purpose led business, it was clear that only a small amount of companies actually understood the way to be truly purpose led was through strategic charity partnerships. The majority were still using transactional relationships supported by ESG reports to demonstrate their purpose. 

Research reveals missed opportunities 

Our new research, “Hidden Opportunities”, reveals that both companies and charities are missing out on significant value by not partnering together in a strategic way. 

This is due to a mismatch in expectations, different cultures and the need for proof of value. In summary: 

  • Companies are less convinced than charities that corporate-charity partnerships deliver against core objectives. 
  • Almost half of companies are seeking proof of the value of charity partnerships. 
  • Mismatched expectations are holding back partnerships. 
  • Cultural barriers points to the need to focus on shared purpose. 
  • Proof of value and expert advice could unlock partnership opportunities. 

We recommend that you build your partnerships on shared purpose, so both parties are clear about “why” the partnership is so important. Also, make sure you agree strategic partnership priorities, which will make it easier to provide compelling proof of value. 

Let’s act together 

We hope this blog inspires you to work with us to the to seize the significant opportunity of purpose-driven corporate-charity partnerships. Together we can share examples of successful corporate-charity partnerships, which will embolden other organisations to follow their lead.. 

We hope you found this blog useful. If you would like to access the Hidden Opportunities research report please click this link.  

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