Jan 31 2013
How can small charities attract corporate partners?

The Centre's Sally Pearman took part in a live Q&A session about how to become a company's favourite charity on the Guardian website.

Throughout the discussion the same topic kept arising - how do smaller/less fashionable charities attract corporate partners?

Whilst corporate/charity partnerships are on the rise, the smaller, less emotive charities are finding it difficult to secure a partnership. As an organisation with a ‘charity of the year' and one that favours small charities we want to share our thoughts and tips on corporate/charity partnerships.

Helpful tips to find your perfect business partner

Your needs:
To begin with you need to identify your charity's needs. It's very easy to fall into the trap of seeking funding or event sponsorship, but consultancy that fills a skills gap can be really valuable.

Here at the Centre we provide £7,000 worth of training to our Charity of the Year.

"The excellent training provided by the Centre will undoubtedly add value to our work and be of great benefit to everyone at Voice and the children and young people we help. To a charity like Voice corporate support is invaluable and being the Centre's Charity of the Year gives us access to a tremendous range of excellent training opportunities for our staff." Voice, Charity of the Year 2013

Research:
Do your homework. Create a ‘wish list' of ideal companies that could help fulfil your needs and then find out if they have charity partners. If so, when do they renew their partnership, how can you apply, what types of charities have they supported in the past, are they local or do they have a local branch? All of these things need to be researched to help you identify the most suitable businesses to apply to.

The right fit:
When creating a ‘wish list' of businesses you would like to partner with, try to think of organisations that compliment your cause and values. Not only by analysing company mission statements and ethical policies but finding organisations with common interests and goals.

For example: Network Rail have partnered with the Samaritans with the aim of reducing the number of suicides on the railways. This common interest has resulted in a reduction in railway deaths, increased awareness of the Samaritans and the issues around suicide and a reduction in costs for Network Rail. Find out more here.

Location:
Location can be used as a major selling point for some organisations. Think about the businesses in your local area. Are they the right fit? Can they facilitate your needs? If the answer is yes then get in touch.

"Geography and the sense of location can also be a big draw to potential partners. If your staff team choose the charity, it's likely a sense of supporting their local community will be valued. Are there any organisations within walking distance that could be potentials partners? We're based on Old Street and know that a lot of local coffee shops and bars allow local charities to use their facilities for free."Sally Pearman, The Centre

Turn negatives into positives:
Whilst your cause might not have the mass appeal of some of the larger, more popular charities, there will be a brand out there that resonates with your charity (like the Samaritans did with Network Rail). Be clever about which organisations you contact and then be honest and open about the benefits of the partnership.

"Niche and small charities will always be faced with a challenge when it comes to attracting sponsorship. But don't despair, honesty and insight are both tools you can harness when writing your pitch. If you don't receive government funding make sure a potential sponsor knows this. If you're a new, small charity but you're ambitious, sell that." Sally Pearman, The Centre

Work out what the company wants:
Make sure you have identified the company's objectives and what they expect from a charity they are partnered with. Clearly identify how your charity can meet these objectives and point out any similarities between brands and cultures. It should be clear from your proposal that you have done your homework, have identified the common ground and taken into consideration the company's needs.

"Even when writing your pitch think about the brand you're portraying and whether this matches your potential partner. In the same way you'd mirror a colleague during a conversation, consider how you can do this in a written pitch. Are you using the same language, tone and words that an organisation uses? Have you cited their values in your pitch? How will you help them achieve their goals?" 
Sally Pearman, The Centre

We hope this helps. Stay positive and good luck!

If you would like to learn more about creating win-win partnerships then our Partnering for success training course may be of interest. This one-day course will set you up for success and deal with ‘relationship problems' so you can get the most out of collaborative working. Contact the Centre for course dates.

Find out more about the Centre's Charity of the Year scheme here or contact info@the-centre.co.uk

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