A win-win partnership: reaping the business benefits of a charitable partnership

 
Graham Clempson
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Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is an important part of the business environment.

It’s likely the company you work for has a number of charities that it fundraises for each year. It can certainly be an effective way of presenting the human face of business to the wider world.

But the corporate world could be doing so much more with these partnerships, and in turn reap benefits that can rival any internal staff development scheme.

Of course charities are always in need of funding, but donations are only the start of the conversation.

Advice and expertise from the business world is equally – if not more – valuable, not least because charities face challenges on growth, sustainability and strategy that are routinely encountered in everyday business.

Donating your time and expertise is not only a useful way to give back, it’s also mutually beneficial. In return, those who take part in considered and well-planned partnerships can develop and learn new skills themselves in myriad ways – some as simple as knowledge sharing in a new sector.

However, if a charity partnership scheme like this is going to deliver you need a clear plan of action.

Vision, purpose, mission

First, to get the most out of these partnerships you have to ensure your business supports the vision, purpose and mission of your chosen charity and its cause. It may seem obvious, but if you don’t have at least some of these unifying values, it’s harder to really immerse yourself within the business strategy of the organisation. Once this level of understanding has been achieved, you need to align with the charity’s commercial goals and identify the various ways your business and skills can contribute to the success of the organisation.

A plan of action

The next step is to develop a plan that is aligned to the charity’s internal business strategy.

At Pilotlight we match non-profit organisations with business leaders that complement their commercial goals.We aim to create an engagement plan that works to enhance the sustainability, development and growth of a charity, while also encouraging quality mentorship.

It’s an effective model, but businesses need to have the dedicated time and resources to facilitate such a project. It’s not a venture to be rushed, and having the space to allow for creative thinking and business planning is invaluable. Quick conclusions generally result in less effective outcomes and ploughing full speed ahead is not the approach to take with any meaningful collaboration.

This can be a change of speed for those who are used to the fast-paced corporate environment. But if a partnership is a success, the benefits can be mutual. c-suite executives can develop their business leadership skills outside of their usual day-to-day environment, giving them a renewed focus and perspective, both professionally and personally.

Of course there’s a learning curve involved, and hurdles need to be overcome if you are to commercially benefit from the partnership, but by bringing together the skills and expertise of two very different sectors you can enhance the social impact and business effectiveness of both parties.

No longer a drive for cash

Charitable partnerships are no longer just a drive for cash, and businesses must now be prepared to support charities across all levels of the organisation, equipping them with the tools to become more sustainable, impactful and commercially effective.

By adopting this method and clearly understanding the mission of a charity, businesses can improve their own social responsibility and commercial success, so that the relationship becomes more meaningful and beneficial than the simple exchange of a cheque ever could.

Graham Clempson is chairman at Pilotlight.

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