Businesses will demand more from charity partnerships in future, says report

'Robust evaluation measures' will give charities an advantage in setting up corporate partnerships, says Linda Minnis of the Charities Trust

Linda Minnis
Linda Minnis

Corporate partnerships will become increasingly commercialised over the next decade, with charities under pressure to boost the profits of businesses, according to a report by the payroll-giving agency the Charities Trust.

The research, published today, analyses corporate giving trends and predicts how they will develop by 2023.

It is based on 106 responses to an online survey of those working in corporate social responsibility in both the private and voluntary sectors.

It also involved six interviews with "global thought leaders", including Cathy Pharoah, director of the Centre for Charitable Giving and Philanthropy at Cass Business School, Richard Howitt, Labour MEP for the East of England and the European parliament’s spokesman on CSR, and Andrew Dunnett, director of the Vodafone Group Foundation.

All of the interviewees and 85 per cent of those surveyed predicted there would be a greater focus on "delivering business strategy" through corporate giving in the future.

Eighty-seven per cent said there would be "greater alignment with business needs" over the next decade and 69 per cent said companies would demand a better understanding of the effects of the programmes supported.

The survey found that 92 per cent believed partnerships with charities would be designed to deliver shared goals. And more than half of respondents, 59 per cent, said the causes supported by companies in the future would be less diverse.

The report says that companies will increasingly look for business benefits through partnerships with the voluntary sector, such as those that help make employees more creative and entrepreneurial, those that improve their brand and reputation, and those that create ideas for products and services.

The skills, market knowledge, technologies and business focus of a company will shape its work in the community and with charities, the report says.

The report also highlights the increasing importance of charities finding effective ways of measuring their impact. Linda Minnis, chief executive of the Charities Trust, said: "Developing robust evaluation measures will certainly provide an advantage.

"From the corporate stakeholder’s viewpoint, it demonstrates impact and outcomes, which supports the initial investment and makes a case for further support. From the perspective of charities, having the ability to show hard-and-fast progress toward a stated objective strengthens the case for involvement."

Richard Hardyment, associate director of Corporate Citizenship, which carried out the research on behalf of the Charities Trust, said some charities would struggle to find funding from businesses in a more commercialised corporate giving future.

"It’s difficult to say which types of charities might be overlooked, but in general it would be those in more contentious areas or those dealing with difficult social issues," he said.  

"The report doesn’t say which types of charities these are, because that is likely to change over time. For example, 15 years ago charities supporting people with HIV/Aids were considered quite challenging for corporates to support, but this is certainly no longer the case."

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