When looking ahead to the 2020s, the context for charity and corporate partnerships is complex; Brexit, climate change, mental health, millennials, digital retail and purpose driven business all represent potential challenges and opportunities. It is down to the individual, team and charity to make the most of this potentially daunting decade.
Below we have dived deeper into each challenge and then made some recommendations on how you can respond to maximise your corporate partnerships success.
CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES
It seems appropriate to start with Brexit because it is an issue that is very high on the agenda for many UK based companies. According to Bloomberg.com “companies have spent hundreds of millions of pounds on contingency planning.” The main effect of Brexit on business is uncertainty, which means they might delay big decisions, especially those that require significant investment.
David Attenborough, Greta Thunberg, WWF and many others have dramatically raised the profile of climate-change in the last two years. This has increased the pressure on business to do something about it. So, business leaders are now challenging themselves to reduce their carbon footprint and ultimately become carbon neutral.
Mind’s Workplace Wellbeing Index and The Lord Mayor’s Appeal’s This is Me campaign are two ground-breaking initiatives that have made mental health a big priority for companies. This means that companies are investing in mental health training, so they increase awareness and understanding of colleagues and provide a much more supportive working environment.
Millennials are people born between 1980 and 2000. By 2025 approximately 75% of the global workforce will be millennials, so they are very important to companies. One feature of this generation is they still want to earn a good salary, but they also want to work for a company who reflects their values. This means that companies need to make a difference in society and ensure it is visible to prospective employees.
“The digital retail revolution is only just getting started,” according to Richard Lim of Retail Economics. One in five retail purchases currently take place online. This is estimated to increase to one in two in 10 years’ time. This means that a company’s digital profile is hugely important if they are to remain successful. Online reviews are especially important, with nearly 95% of shoppers reading online reviews before making a purchase.
A new corporate paradigm is emerging. It’s called “Purpose-Driven Business” and it means that a company or brand is motivated by a goal that is greater than just making money. There are several factors driving purpose for business, including the digital retail revolution and millennials’ desire for meaningful employment. One of the best examples of this approach is Unilever, who have 28 purpose-driven brands which grew 69% faster that the rest of their business in 2018.
Focus on purpose
With the rise of purpose-driven business it’s important that you respond to it in kind. Don’t focus on money when you meet with a corporate prospect, rather focus on your greater purpose as a charity. It will also help to involve those who are responsible for articulating that purpose, such as your senior management team and board of trustees. You will also increase your success if you focus on companies that share your purpose.
Sharpen your proposition
If you want your cause to stand out from all the approaches that companies receive every day, then you want to create a proposition that has “cut-through.” It should be simple, unique, impactful and emotionally engaging. Effectively you are looking for the magical ingredient in what you do, then really shout about it! A great example is SolarAid’s campaign to “eradicate the kerosene lamp.”
Create your own crowd
You can also stand out from the crowd by creating a crowd of your own. By this I mean partnering with other similar or like-minded charities. You might struggle to secure a major, long-term partnership on your own, but you could be stronger in a consortium. And companies love charities who partner with each other. Check out the brilliant partnership between Tommy’s, Make-A-Wish, Whizz-Kidz and Poundland.
According to Joe Waters of Selfish Giving, (cause-marketing guru from the USA), the most exciting space to focus on is the intersection between cause-marketing and digital marketing. This is because the greatest way a company can help transform a cause is to engage its employees and consumers. And using the power of digital they can do it in seconds. So bring brilliant digital ideas to the table such as the way that Amnesty International partnered with Tinder in Australia.
Companies are understandably preoccupied with Brexit and their uncertainty can make them slower to make decisions. It’s important that you understand that, but don’t let it put you off. Therefore, patient persistence is required. Don’t give up. Keep on their radar. Good things come to those who wait.
Learn from others
None of us know it all and we can all learn from others in our industry. So, meet with other corporate fundraisers, learn from their experience and share your own. One brilliant way to do this is by attending the Corporate Partnerships Conference run by the Institute of Fundraising on 2nd December. It’s packed full of brilliant case studies and speakers from companies and charities including Admiral, E.ON, Legal & General, Age UK, Alzheimer’s Society, CLIC Sargent, Mind, Samaritans and many more. Hopefully I will see you there.
 Bloomberg.com, Brexit Impact Tracker, 24 October 2019
 The Guardian, 9 July 2019
 Spiegel Research Centre, How online reviews influence sales
 Unilever.com, 11th June 2019