Top tips on picking a corporate partner

Top tips on picking a corporate partner

13th January 2022

By Dani Lowe

You’re a small charity with big ideas. You’re eager to step up your work, but you can’t do it alone. Could a corporate partner help you reach the next level?

Charities and businesses can be powerful partners – if you’re a good match. So we’ve put together some pointers for successful corporate charity partnerships, including examples from our own clients. 

1. Look for businesses whose values align with yours

Unless you and your partner share core values, you’ll struggle to agree on the fundamentals. Plus, your partnership won’t make sense to the public.

It’ll help to draw up an ethical policy to guide you in choosing partners. For example, you might reject donations from tobacco companies – but be delighted to accept fundraising by their staff. 

How do you know if you’re a good match? Read their websites. Follow them on social media. Start a conversation with them. Don’t dive into making a charity partnership proposal until you feel there could be synergy.

2. Work your contacts

Who do you know? Who do they know? And how about your colleagues and trustees – who’s in their contacts books?

Many great charity corporate partnerships spring from a simple human connection. But don’t be scared to leave your comfort zone behind and attend business networking events, too

3. Suggest issues of mutual interest

Partnerships are likely to develop over a shared concern. 

Versus Arthritis, for example, was chosen as the Charity of the Year 2020 for the UK Bioindustry Association, the trade association for the life sciences.

And Homebase supports Macmillan’s grant scheme, which provides one-off payments to help people with cancer cover costs including home adaptations. 

4. Propose different types of support

Financial support is the most obvious way a business can help – for instance donations, match funding, payroll giving, or staff fundraising. But many companies will be glad of creative suggestions, particularly if they boost staff engagement.

Could their staff volunteer with you? Could they provide placements for your service users? How about support in kind, such as IT services? 

As an example, global bank Citi not only raises money for Guide Dogs, but also trains employees to become sighted volunteer guides

5. Explain how your partnership will support their objectives

Many companies today know exactly what they want from charity partners. Others are more open-minded. 

So set out your proposal clearly, referring to their corporate social responsibility (CSR) policy if they have one. 

In return, companies are likely to want a strong publicity game from you. Charities are brimming with inspiring content: images, video and case studies from people who’ve been supported by you and your partner. Corporates love that!

6. Be clear in your goals

Nothing sours a partnership faster than miscommunication! Make sure both sides are fully-agreed about what’s involved: read the Charity Commission’s guidance before you sign on the dotted line. 

Set goals and KPIs, and think about how you’ll measure your ROI. It’s easy for small charities to underestimate just how much effort can go into a corporate partnership. 

7. Be tenacious!

So you’ve developed a network that puts National Rail to shame – but no business is biting. Time to give up?

Not yet. Corporate Social Responsibility is a hot topic – and will remain so. Global research from Accenture found that half of all consumers have re-evaluated what’s important to them since the pandemic, and many choose brands that contribute to society.

Try to reconsider what you’re offering, invest more in your search, or cast your net wider. 

At Connect Assist, we believe there’s a business partner out there for you. And if you’re looking for an outsourcing partner, we’d love to hear from you – give us a ring or drop us a line today. 


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