Perfect partners: why small can still mean big value

BT MyDonate BT MyDonate

When trying to lure corporate partners, emphasise the unique qualities that make your charity attractive

You've got to make yourself heard
You've got to make yourself heard

This is a sponsored feature provided by BT MyDonate

Small charities can feel overlooked by prospective commercial partners. But, like dating, it’s a matter of emphasising the unique qualities that make you attractive. Small businesses are often in a better position to be more agile, dynamic and committed charity partners, and they can benefit greatly from the community goodwill and the publicity that can be gleaned by working with you. Here's a top ten of tips.

1 Pick your small business wisely. Go for one that reinforces your own key messages. If a member of your team has a close link to a particular company that is a good fit for you, leverage that. For example, if your charity has a conservation connection, a small business with an eco-friendly slant would be perfect.

2 A small business that donates its time to you can be as valuable as a large corporate handing over a cheque once a year. If each team in your small business charity partner can spend a day with you helping out, painting the office, answering phones or something equally as functional, you’ll benefit hugely. There is a pay-off for the business too – its team members can enjoy a skills refresh, perhaps being customer-facing for your charity.

3 Use a fundraising platform that doesn’t charge commission, such as BT MyDonate. If your charity partner is putting in the time to run, cycle, swim, bake and so on, it will want to know that every effort it makes has a direct impact on your charity and won’t disappear in commission.

4 There is a huge pay-off in team building and camaraderie in a joint fundraising effort. You get much-needed funds and your charity partner benefits from a motivated, positive team. This works especially well in sponsored fitness drives, because each employee will enjoy improved health awareness. Rather than a short-burn fundraiser, such as one sponsored cycle that will attract only those who already cycle and are at a certain level of fitness, why not suggest a weight-loss initiative spread over the year that your own supporters can join in too?

5 Point out to your prospective charity partner that a relationship with you as a local charity can also help with its staff retention because it adds a layer of loyalty to an employee’s perceptions of their day-to-day work. Employees are committed to the charity as well as to the company.

6 Remind it that focusing in on a single charity – you – makes things simple and helps it avoid being pulled in different directions by other requests for help. Companies get myriad requests for help; to be able to say it has a charity partner in place allows it a guilt-free, straightforward response.

7 If you need a final push to make your case, mention that supporting a local charity can be an interesting differentiator for the company when it is pitching for new business. Some companies use CSR to select new suppliers; a tactical and proactive approach to working with a respected and relevant charity could stand them in good stead.

8 Keep communicating with your charity supporters. Keep an eye on what they’re doing and link from your site to theirs; you’ll get more out of it and they’ll keep you updated with more opportunities.

9 Work with your commercial partner on PR. The more tangible results it gets from the relationship, the more likely it is to keep it going. Local newspapers are generally interested in fundraising efforts because there is usually a good picture involved, and a local company working with a local charity brings an even stronger likelihood of a resulting story.

10 And finally, remember... it will make you both happier! The latest membership survey by the charity match-making service Pilotlight revealed that volunteering time and skills through a managed approach makes business leaders happier and improves their own skills. The survey found that nearly 90 per cent of senior business executives said engaging with charities improved their sense of wellbeing and happiness.

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