The idea of businesses partnering with charities is, by no means, a new one. Fundraisers, bake sales, fun runs, and other forms of charitable giving have always been a part of office life.
But these types of ‘partnerships’ tend to be very one-sided. The business makes a short-term financial commitment, the charity receives a small boost in funding and everyone is happy… until the next fundraiser.
This type of short-term giving is evolving, however, and businesses are now looking to create a longer lasting, mutually beneficial bonds with non-profit organisations.
Consumers want to see more charitable efforts from businesses
Research undertaken by Lloyds Banking Group has shown that its members are now considering their charitable giving more carefully. More than 70% of its members gave strategically last year and less than 20% went in ad-hoc donations. This is a reversal of the data from a decade ago, where more than 60% of its members said that they give randomly and only 30% gave strategically.
With the rise of brand activism, it seems that there is an added pressure on businesseses to invest in causes that their stakeholders and customers care about and that align well with their brand.
Indeed, research by Forresters showed that:
‘when faced with a choice between two companies that offered products and services for the same price, 82% of UK consumers said their decision would be affected by whether a company engaged with charities and its local community’.
What are the benefits to business in partnering with a charity?
There are many benefits to both businesses and charities in entering into a long-term partnership. It can be a wonderful opportunity to:
- share knowledge,
- infrastructure, and
- increase skill sets on both sides.
NPC’s latest report states that: ‘businesses should be looking at charities not just as grant-recipients, but as ways to change their businesses and to use their skills and influence to do more social good’. Companies should not underestimate the skills and knowledge that a charity can offer.
Life insurance company L&G provides a great example of this. They understand that charities may have a greater awareness of issues affecting their business such as housing, ageing, and healthcare. And so, they regularly contract charities to provide training to their employees, give briefings, and advise on social issues.
Although it takes time, effort, and resources to build these kinds of partnerships, they have the potential for significant long-term impact for both organisations.
Research is key to finding the right charity to align with your business
The important thing when considering partnering with a charity is that it must be an equal relationship. Tamarin Fitzpatrick, Head of Corporate Partnerships at Prostate Cancer UK, says that one of the biggest changes she has seen in recent years is that companies expect a lot more from their charities.
They are no longer satisfied with focusing on how much the business gave, they now want to know what their investment has actually managed to achieve. Whether it is a partnership between global organisations such as the ‘one pack = one vaccine’ campaign, established between Pampers and UNICEF, or a small business teaming up with a local charity, the keys to success will be much the same.
It is vital that both organisations are honest and realistic about their expectations and what they can and cannot commit to in terms of time and resources. It is also important to do background research to find out what causes are important to the organisation’s stakeholders and customers.
A company that aligns itself to a charity that fits with the products and services they already offer will be more successful in getting employees and customers on board.
Fiona Cannon, Director for Responsible Business at LBG, maintains that:
‘charities that are looking for partners should think about creating activities that deliver significant social impact and have tangible, measurable outcomes that can be clearly attributed to the corporate’s support’.
Partnering with a charity can help your business attract young talent
Another benefit to these kinds of partnerships, that should not be underestimated, is the ability to attract and retain a more socially minded generation of young people and graduates.
Research shows that young people today expect more from their employer than gimmicky benefits and a traditional pension plan. They want to work for companies that are committed to tackling the world’s social, political, and environmental problems.
Rachel Whale, chief executive of Koreo, claims that: ‘demonstrating a purpose beyond profit allows firms to compete for young recruits more strongly than ever before’.
A commitment to social good and charity partnerships not only helps to attract young talent to a company, but is more likely to foster a sense of trust and loyalty, cutting down on high employee turnover rates.
Ben Hayman, managing partner at Given London, makes the excellent point that: ‘alignment with purpose [between recruit and employer] filters in people who are going to be good for your business in the long-term and makes them better, faster’.
Committing to genuine, long-lasting charity partnerships will not only make a business more attractive to young employees, but will encourage loyalty to the company and streamline candidates who are already on board with company values.
Charities are not just considered to be a source of positive PR, but also suppliers of information and specialised skills for businesses who are looking to understand the needs of their customers and their community.
If you are thinking of working with a local charity or non-profit organisation, but don’t know where or how to begin, get in touch – we can help get you started!