On the 1st of July, we were delighted to be joined by 80 professionals from across the charity and business sectors for the launch of our new research – Anchors Away: breaking free of the barriers to ambitious charity-company partnerships. We heard from four incredible speakers and had some great comments in the Zoom chat, and we’re proud to share some of the highlights.
Barriers from the company side:
Jenni Berkley, Communications and CSR Manager of Belfast Harbour, started the event by talking about the barriers to ambition she’s experienced in the corporate secotr
“The problem is short-termism. Many people want to see something good happen in their timeframe or tenure. Something good even if it’s not the right thing.”
“I must get around 20 letters a week from charities I’ve never spoken to or maybe even heard of asking for money. It’s incredibly frustrating – they may get £100 if they’re incredibly lucky, but there needs to be an understanding of how our partnerships operate.”
“Charity-company partnerships are like finding your life partner… right down to wondering if you like the same films. You need to be compatible with each other from the superficial details all the way through to sharing the same ethos. It’s up to the charity to demonstrate that.”
Barriers from the charity side:
Then Ghalib Ullah, Head of Commercial Partnerships, spoke about the barriers he’s encountered and overcome through his career.
“The biggest barrier is structural. Our budget works on a yearly basis, so we are pulled back to achieving short term income, rather than achieving our more ambitious goals. We need to work as a whole organisation to overcome this.”
“Another barrier is organisational buy-in. We went through a process of identifying who internally was key to our success as a team. We understand that we’re pitching internally as much as we are externally.”
“Corporate partnerships is still in its infancy. How to achieve strategic partnerships is not as well understood as how to secure major grant funding. It is essential we invest in training as a team and as individuals.”
Background to the research:
We then moved to discussing how the research came about, before discussing some of the key recommendations.
“We defined ambition as the desire to create the most social value possible, then looked at what held people back from pursuing ambitious partnerships in favour of things like Charity of the Year or sponsorship models instead.” – Ian McQuillin, Rogare
One of the main things we found was the collaboration continuum, which we have adapted from Austin and Seitinedi. You can see the model that explains levels of ambitions below:
“Charity-company partnerships can make great changes in the world, so it’s a missed opportunity to be anything short of as ambitious as possible.” – Jonathan Andrews, Remarkable Partnerships
The importance of seeking value beyond money:
“The fundraisers label can hold us back. We need to be corporate value raisers, not corporate fundraisers.” – Jonathan Andrews, Remarkable Partnerships
“There are so many different ways partnerships deliver value – which are easy to overlook if money is the only or main measure of success.” – Crispin Manners, Onva Consulting
“I would recommend starting to report on added value, where it exists, as well as income. Don’t wait to be asked to report on it, just send out the results and examples you have as part of your normal reporting so that it starts to become embedded and better understood.” – Sophie Powell-White, Great Ormond Street Hospital
The importance of having a partnership north star:
“It is important that your projects excite not only your corporate team but your partners – they need to visualise the potential impact they could have on the world.” – Ghalib Ullah, Parkinson’s UK
“All the team have in their heads. That when we go into a conversation with a company what we are looking for is that ambition at the top of our partnership model. Which is an ambition that only us and that company can achieve… If you’ve got that ambition then all the levers for change will naturally fall out of it because it is so strategic to both sides…. In three years’ time what would the Sun newspaper headline say [the partnership] has achieved?” – charity interviewee in the research.
To get your copy of the full report, download it here