How Maggie won a £200k corporate partnership

I attended the Corporate Partnerships Masterclass with Remarkable Partnerships in November 2015. I’ve worked in new business development for a decade, so this was an opportunity to review what I’m doing, but also to learn new skills.

It’s easy to become entrenched in using old fundraising techniques, without examining how we can improve what we are doing. Going to the Inch Hotel to work with Alan Clayton, Ken Burnett and Jonathan Andrews gave me exactly that opportunity.

Techniques that were taught were a mixture of new and old for me. I was inspired by the idea of creating a vision for a problem that a corporate would buy into so much, that they’d be biting my hand off for a partnership, so that they could be part of the solution. We talked about the need to emotionally engage the people in the board room.

Quite often corporate fundraisers can be fixated on the return to the charity, and forget that firstly, we need to switch on the human being that we’re pitching to first and foremost. Good old fashioned relationship fundraising.

The Corporate Partnerships Masterclass brought back into focus the importance of creating innovative pitches that switch on the people in the room, not just the business plan. I went back to my colleagues in Teens and Toddlers and told them I wanted to talk about creating BHAGS (that’s Big Hairy Audacious Goals to you and me).

Initially there were some blank faces, but when I explained that we’d have a lock-in, complete with unlimited popcorn, I won them round. We set about working out what mission we really wanted to solve – we banned words like ‘supporting’ and ‘helping’ young people.

We decided to go nuclear in our ambition. More popcorn, blue sky thinking; it was hard work knuckling down on what we really want to achieve, and how to bring people in a pitch to life, so that we won their hearts, on the way to winning over their budgets.

We debated; we got excited. It was tough, but good. After much naval gazing, we decided on our big goal: No Child Fails.

We had a chance to use the techniques I had learned in a pitch to Deloitte. We had to encapsulate how our goal could fit into their One Million Futures programme; with the remit of helping one million people get to where they want to be; whether it’s in the classroom, or in work.

I’d managed to get us through the initial application stage for our work in Manchester – then it was down to my team to show that we could fit with Deloitte’s culture, and demonstrate that our goals could help drive the impact on their CR programme.

We knew that we fitted; it was a matter of being able to build relationships with the people in the room. We got really creative, really tapping into Jonathan’s next technique: creating an innovative engagement plan – making the pitch all about them, rather than about us.

We smashed it. A three-year partnership with Deloitte, worth approximately £200K, where we’d tap into their pro bono business skills and their networks in Manchester – in the bag. On the course Jonathan quoted Daniel Priestley, who said: “You get what you pitch for and you’re always pitching”. We pitched big and we won!

Three big lessons I learned from the Corporate Partnerships Masterclass:
1. Be brave and create BHAGS that inspire your corporate prospect.
2. Companies want engagement, not CSR. So create engagement plans that are all about THEM.
3. Play the man, not the room. It’s all about the relationship.

Go on the Corporate Partnerships Masterclass and make it live across your organisation and throughout not just your work, but your colleagues’ work. Buy popcorn, create BHAGS and pitch big. It’s all so worth it.

Maggie Allen, Corporate Partnerships Manager, Teens and Toddlers.

Remarkable Partnerships are running their next Corporate Partnerships Masterclass on 28 & 29 June at Missenden Abbey in Buckinghamshire. Find out more and book your place here.

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