When it comes to charity partnerships, Lloyds TSB has no shortage of potential suitors. The bank gets more than 100 unsolicited applications a year from charities wanting to work with it. The prime reason is that it has a proven track record of raising large amounts of money. Last month, it shared the Corporate Partnership of the Year award at the Institute of Fundraising National Convention for a partnership with Breast Cancer Care, which raised £2.1m - more than double the target.
Despite this pedigree, Lloyds decided to commission an evaluation of how it conducted charity partnerships. The evaluation resulted in several changes to its latest relationship, with the British Heart Foundation, which began in July.
The most obvious change is in the duration of the partnership, which is two years - it was one before. The limitations of one-year partnerships are becoming increasingly apparent. Take away the honeymoon period and the winding down and only four or five months of serious fundraising remain.
Another innovation has been to give the BHF four months to prepare for the launch of the partnership. "We have 68,000 staff in 2,000 buildings across the UK," says Richard Cooper, head of corporate responsibility at Lloyds TSB. "If a significant number of those get involved in events and fundraising, it can be extremely demanding; a charity has to have the resources to deal with that demand. We thought we'd give them a good period of time to get up to speed."
According to Douglas Rouse, head of corporate partnerships at BHF, many companies inform victorious charities they've been selected for partnerships only a few days before they are due to begin. "We've come up with a really good plan for the first 12 months," he says. "We are hitting the ground running."
Doubling the length of the partnership also means more time to develop the relationship beyond simple fundraising. "We've been looking at how we can make it a real partnership in areas of mutual interest and benefit," says Cooper.
BHF is hoping to use the partnership to promote its healthy lifestyle messages and believes it can reach practically every community in the country through Lloyds staff, branches and 16 million customers. Lloyds also sees a business benefit in this. Staff may be offered gym membership as part of the partnership. The group also owns insurer Scottish Widows and hopes that healthy living messages can help to reduce the number of claims customers make because they have heart attacks.
For BHF, too, the partnership marks an innovation. For the first time, it has created a bespoke team to deal with this partnership alone.