Written by Pater Chiswick, Director of Corporate, Remarkable Partnerships.
In my 20+ years working in the corporate sector for major multi-nationals, I noticed that companies often form their charity partnerships on an ad-hoc basis. This approach often means they miss out on significant commercial value. However, if they build them on a strategic level, these partnerships can help them deliver their commercial goals as described below.
- To attract and retain talent
“Help your employees find purpose—or watch them leave” – McKinsey
In today’s competitive business environment, it’s vital that companies have a strong sense of purpose to attract and retain top talent, boost employee engagement, and drive innovation.
We know charities can play a key role in fostering a culture of engagement and motivation by offering volunteer and fundraising opportunities to help employees find their purpose and connect with the company’s mission. Known as either pro bono or skills-based volunteering, employees can offer their expertise, providing consulting or mentoring services. Building empathy and collaboration, employees are able to understand the social and environmental issues that relate to the company’s purpose and make a really important contribution.
2. Deliver Environmental Social Governance (ESG) targets
When I worked for global corporations in the early 2000s, they used Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to demonstrate their positive contributions to the environment and society. The challenge with CSR was it was often bolted onto the side of a business, which meant it struggled to deliver meaningful impact for either society or the company. ESG by contrast, is positioned at the strategic centre of companies and it emphasises the importance of delivery. If companies form strategic partnerships with charities, they can play a vital role in delivering these ESG targets, through training, skills sharing, volunteering and fundraising.
A great example of this is the partnership between Network Rail and Samaritans. Since the partnership began in 2010, the charity has used their expertise to train over 26,000 Network Rail employees on how to start a simple conversation with a passenger if they think they could be vulnerable. Last year the partnership potentially prevented more than 650 suicides. This is an incredible social impact.
3. Increase company profile
Afdhel Aziz, Chief Purpose Officer of Conspiracy of Love, said, “As brands strive for differentiation, relevance and growth, a clear purpose brought to life in compelling ways is often the difference between success and failure.”
Companies know that demonstrating their purpose is even more important in tough economic times, because it helps them stand out from the crowd and build trust. By partnering with a charity that aligns with their purpose, a company can show their commitment to social and environmental issues through powerful case studies, that matter to their stakeholders.
For example, ICG (the global alternative asset manager) launched their “Million Meals Initiative” in November 2022. This ambitious project involves them partnering with six charities in the UK, Europe, USA and Singapore to deliver support to the most vulnerable people in the crisis.
4. Demonstrate purpose
Aaron Hurst, Author of The Purpose Economy, said “If you aren’t fully embracing the Purpose Economy by now and transforming your entire organisation, you are going to join the likes of Blockbuster and Kodak.”.
Although many companies recognise the importance of having a strong sense of purpose to stand out from the competition, it’s a real challenge for them to integrate, and deliver their purpose in their day-to-day business.
We know that a partnership with a charity who has a great fit with the company is a very effective way for a company to live their purpose. This is because charities can use their expertise and connections to translate their purpose into practical next steps. For example, the running shoes and sports clothing company Asics is partnering with Mind to establish beginners running groups, donating a pair of running shoes to each participant.
Charity partnerships can help companies deliver significant commercial value. The way to seize this opportunity is build partnerships based on shared purpose and identify strategical goals from the beginning.