Author: Charlotte Walshe, Head of Charity Partnerships, In Kind Direct
I would bet that every charitable organisation working on their strategy at the moment is talking to some extent about building partnerships or working in collaboration. This to me is a clear indicator that the challenges we are facing as a sector cannot be faced alone.
Working together to tackle the big issues has never been more important. DSC, Small Charities Coalition and In Kind Direct all support organisations to deliver their work – so you don’t need to go it alone. Looking outside our own sector is also vital, drawing on the expertise and input of other industries to address key concerns like poverty, homelessness and community cohesion.
At In Kind Direct we’ve just launched our 2019 Impact Report, Providing Life’s Essentials, based on an annual survey of our charity network. It shows the growing range of vital services being delivered by local organisations, the majority facing increasing demand and local poverty, coupled with diminishing budgets. Our findings tell us the need for In Kind Direct to play its part is increasing, with 74% of respondents stating that they rely on us to simply keep going. To meet this need, we work closely with our product donor companies and partners, some of whom have been with us for nearly 20 years. Read our full report here.
Just like a marathon, preparation is key to building partnerships. Here are a few tips, particularly for engaging corporate support:
Identify the scope
Decide if you are looking for a partner for your organisation as a whole, or for a particular project or campaign. This can help narrow down a longlist of likely candidates. The recent campaign from Mind and McVitie’s is a great example of a strong partnership delivering a simple message.
Think beyond the transactional
It should be a two-way street. Companies are increasingly looking at the total offer they make to communities beyond just the financial, and connecting this to their Responsible Business commitments. Identifying mutual benefits such as new audiences, a shared mission or value, or a direct commercial benefit will ultimately lead to a more a fulfilling relationship all round.
Being realistic is not at odds with being aspirational. A new partnership can be daunting, especially for smaller charities but early successes can help embed their value within an organisation’s mind-set. Larger businesses may wish to work with larger charities to assure mutual benefit and greater visibility is achieved. However, companies with regional branches will often support local causes. Businesses also have a growing interest in what is important to society, not just their employees. Cause-specific charities can capitalise on this if they are strategic. This Third Sector piece looks at this in more detail.
Impact, impact, impact!
Demonstrating measurable outcomes and the direct social value created by a partnership will help grow a relationship that lasts. Being clear on its purpose will ultimately help demonstrate success internally across your organisation, to your partner and to the public.
In today’s challenging climate, working together remains key for us to achieve the greatest impact for those we are here for.