We know that corporate partnerships managers have special skills that make them successful: but every superhero has a weakness. The kryptonite for people working in corporate partnerships is often the job description. How so, you ask?
We see talented corporate partnerships people hamstrung by job descriptions that set them up for failure. The hard part of the job isn’t finding and securing corporate partners, it’s managing the unrealistic expectations set by their organisation.
If you’re about to hire a corporate partnerships manager, consider the following key elements of the job description that will put them on the path to success.
- Access to senior leadership and board
Large organisations typically have layers of hierarchy, whether they are for purpose or for profit. The corporate partnerships manager may not report to the CEO, but it is critical that they have direct access to senior leadership and board. Significant partnerships need support at the highest level of the organisation: to make warm introductions, to support relationships at the right level of seniority and to mobilise the internal staff needed for the partnership. Hiring a partnerships manager and giving them no access to senior management is like sending out a Ferrari on the racetrack with a Skoda engine. They’ll try their best, but progress will be slow and painful.
2. Clarity on organisational priorities
We recently encountered a fundraiser whose job description included community fundraising, events, trusts and foundations and corporate partnerships. She was told that she could squeeze corporate partnerships into her “spare day”. Whilst we appreciate that organisations can’t always afford a dedicated partnerships manager, this list of responsibilities was hopelessly overloaded. What it indicated was the organisation’s lack of clarity about its fundraising priorities and what it needed to take its strategy forward. Corporate partnerships are not a last minute bolt-on to other fundraising activities, nor is it fair to hire a talented person and make it impossible for them to succeed. If you’re not looking for meaningful strategic partnerships but simply trying to fill an urgent gap in your operating budget then there are quicker ways to do it with traditional fundraising.
3. Realistic timing
Corporate partnerships take time to nurture and it can be 12months before negotiations come to fruition- especially if there’s no warm introduction. If your charity is hiring a new partnerships manager role, then you should expect that the first 12 months are spent building the right foundations and starting to nurture the right fit partnership prospects. The focus should be on the partnership strategy, the pipeline of prospects and the type of partnerships that are being nurtured. Then you’ll have a much better chance of landing strategically aligned, valuable corporate partnerships.
4. Realistic targets
“Get me $1 million and a helicopter”, I was once told. It spoke volumes about what the charity needed, rather than whether they had anything meaningful to offer a partner. We often see unrealistic financial targets based on a low level of understanding about corporate partnerships. Setting a target of $1million in cash from a cold start is unrealistic and demotivating. It also fails to consider the total value that a corporate partner can offer, including pro-bono goods, services, marketing, PR and audiences. It’s fine to have ambitions for corporate partnerships, but they need to be grounded in a realistic view of what the charity has to offer in return, not their immediate needs for cash.
Partnership managers are hardworking and talented people. To make the most of their superpowers non-profit leaders have a responsibility to create roles which will enable them to thrive and succeed. Don’t hold them back with a job description that becomes a lump of kryptonite around their neck.
For more information on corporate partnerships consulting, coaching and training please get in touch. We know how to get you started and how to take your partnerships from good to great. Please contact us at email@example.com for more information or subscribe to our newsletter here.
If you’d like some free examples of good and not so good job descriptions for a corporate partnerships role, then email us at firstname.lastname@example.org