Focus on wider benefits of partnerships, not just cash, says report

The report, by the fundraising consultancy the More Partnership, says charities that focus only on receiving money from corporate partners 'are likely to encounter disappointment'

The report
The report

Charities that focus solely on receiving cash from potential corporate partners are "likely to encounter disappointment", a new report warns.

The report, From Transactional to Transformative: The Future of Corporate Partnerships, says charities that want to engage in corporate partnerships should focus on the potential value and impact of the partnership to both organisations over whatever cash benefits it might bring.

The report, unveiled today at the Institute of Fundraising’s annual convention in central London by the fundraising consultancy the More Partnership, says both charities and companies need to be committed to analysing the benefit of partnerships for all involved.

The report examined available research on the state of corporate giving, and then interviewed 50 representatives from charities and companies on what they thought made for effective partnerships and the trends they expected to see in the future.

It points to previous research by the Charities Aid Foundation, which showed that although overall corporate giving in the UK had dropped slightly in recent years, companies were giving more relative to their profit margins.

Nik Miller, a partner at the More Partnership and author of the report, told delegates at the convention today: "Lots of the corporates that we spoke to talked about the decline in public trust in business and that being one of the key drivers to do social good and to use partnerships with charities in order to do that."

Because of this, he said, the increased interest in more strategic partnerships that had been developing over the past few years had recently become much more urgent for companies.

"We see an increasing trend in the move from transactional partnerships, with a very patriarchal model of corporations saying ‘we are the wealthy ones, we are the experts, we’re going to sift through applications, we’re going to bestow our gifts on our charity of choice and you should do good with it’ to a much more strategic relationship based on mutuality," he said.

This focus on mutuality was key from the early stages of the partnership, said Miller.

"The corporates that benefit most from the partnerships are those that understand the deep levels of expertise among you and your colleagues and that this is not about the transaction of cash," he said. "It’s about much, much more than that."

He said the charity sector had to be realistic in how it viewed corporate partnerships by understanding that companies were involved for PR benefits and helping them to see what impact they were making,

"We need to understand how we measure the corporate benefits and a fascinating model is developing where we have charities advising some of the world’s leading consultancy firms on how they measure social good and impact within their organisations," Miller said.

"In the best strategic partnerships we see an equal commitment to evaluating outcomes to understand what difference this is making with respect to social good, but also what difference that is making to the firm."

The report recommends that charities develop a thorough written case for support when approaching companies to strike up partnerships, laying out clearly and coherently the purpose and priorities of the charity and the business benefits it could bring to corporates.

"Value and impact should be the primary focus," the report says. "The corporate fundraiser who considers themself solely an extractor of cash from business is likely to encounter disappointment. The move to transformative partnerships will depend on long-term organisational engagement on both sides."

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