Regulation with Rosie: Working with business

The Charity Commission's Rosie Chapman on commercial partnerships.

Anyone starting a new relationship will inevitably find themselves asking the same questions. Are we right together? What do we have in common? Is there a future for us?

It's no different for charities entering into commercial partnerships with companies. And while such relationships can boost coffers and help raise profile, charities should be clear about what they're getting themselves into.

Most commercial partnerships fall into one of three camps: a licensing agreement, whereby a company uses its association with a charity to promote a product (charity Christmas cards are an example); a joint promotional agreement, whereby a company seeks to boost its reputation by associating itself with a charity; and a sponsorship agreement, whereby a company effectively pays a charity to publicise its support for the charity.

The first step to a happy relationship is to know what you're looking for. Before committing itself, we'd recommend that a charity develops a written set of checks to consider, for example, whether new agreements fit with existing policies, if there are reputational risks from being associated with a particular company and how costs will be managed.

There are also certain legal requirements. These include the need for a written agreement and for donors to be told how much of their gift will reach the charity. Charities also need to protect their brands and consider any tax implications. See our guidance Fundraising Through Partnerships with Companies.

The good news for charities is that companies are keen to form relationships with charities. Charities certainly aren't in a weak bargaining position.

In other words, don't settle for kissing frogs.

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