Corporate Partnerships can be a vital revenue stream for a charity but they can also be so much more. Revenue can come from sponsorship, cause related marketing campaigns, from staff fundraising, PR and from a corporate’s CSR budget.
However, a truly strategic, integrated partnership, has the potential to be transformational for both the charity and the corporate. We mean a partnership that incorporates all of these things and really tries to tackle the core mission of the charity.
An example of the new gold standard is the partnership between GlaxoSmithKline and Save the Children UK. Together they agreed a goal to “help save one million children’s lives”. They created five pillars of activity to achieve this goal:
- Investment in programs- multi-year commitment to life saving programs
- Core business and product development- using NFP advice to develop new products and income streams
- Advocacy activities- using joint resources to advocate for policy change on child mortality
- Brand and commercial initiatives- repositioning the GSK global brand for competitive advantage
- Global employee engagement- the PULSE program mobilising staff participation and fundraising worldwide.
SCUK took a partnership that had started as approx. $400,000 (in AUD) of localised corporate philanthropic support and grew it to over $14,000,000 pa, even without the launch of the new products.
So why have we seen so few of these partnerships in Australia, when the UK and USA have been creating ground breaking corporate partnerships? It seems to be a lack of ambition and a lack of confidence from the NFP side whilst corporates are comfortable in a culture of low level philanthropy.
What do Australian NFPs’s need to do to emulate the success in the UK and USA?
- NFPs need to be more demanding. Too often, we see relationships being built at too low a level in the corporate hierarchy. Large scale commitments require engaging the CEOs of both organisations and start building their common interests. Let’s stop being satisfied with the $30,000 cheque and start asking for something that’s going to be really meaningful to the NFP’s mission.
- The NFP needs to think about how to create a transformational partnership that delivers clear commercial value for the corporate. It will then become an integral part of the corporate’s business strategy, rather than spare change in the CSR budget.
- It takes a village to build a transformational partnership. In the GSK/ SCUK example, the partnership mobilised staff at all levels of the organisation. It started with the top leadership of both organisations but included a wide range of teams, expertise and talents to achieve their shared goal.
- Finally, the NFP needs to consider a complete view of the value that a corporate partnership can bring. Rather than just one-off revenue, partnerships can offer access to customers and markets for new donors, design of products that are tackling the core mission of the organisation and access to the brilliant minds and many hands of their staff and networks. In short, a corporate partnership can be transformational.
So maybe Donald Trump has a point when he urges us to “think big”. The problems we are trying to solve, like disease, hunger, injustice or homelessness aren’t small. Who knows where ambition might lead us? What do you think needs to change to create these types of partnership in Australia too?
For more information on the GSK and SCUK partnership, see the case study on our website: https://stellarpartnerships.com/2017/02/14/inspiring-a-new-generation-of-corporate-partnerships-glaxosmithkline-and-save-the-children-uk/