Them and us. It’s tempting to think of corporates as hard-nosed, profit making machines. But they’re filled with living, breathing humans that are trying their best to get through the day. Non-profits don’t have a monopoly on compassion, ingenuity or virtue. If you’re building corporate partnerships, then try to understand what’s happening on their side of the fence.
Let’s take a light-hearted peek into the other side.
Dear Partnership Manager,
I’m the CSR and Community Engagement Manager for ACME Retail. ACME is a $300mln listed company with multiple brands and outlets across Australia. I’ve got a team of 3 people, all part-time, who work with me.
Sorry I haven’t replied to your 5 emails and calls yet. I’m home-schooling in lockdown and the dog just chewed through my modem cable. I’ve spent the last two days in a virtual ‘strategy away day’ that the HR team thought would be good for team building. Team drinks whilst dressed in a pirate costume were just what I needed as my kids tried to burn down the kitchen.
What was it you wanted? I got to the end of your email trail and still didn’t know. Any chance you could be a bit more succinct? A couple of paragraphs would be great, as I’ve got another 400 emails in my inbox today. By the way, did you know that 3 other people in your charity also emailed me recently? Which one of you should I answer?
You might think we’ve got money to burn, but the Vulture Capital firm who bought out the company last year are squeezing us for more return. Every dollar spend has to be justified. There have been two rounds of redundancies and every team is having to do more with fewer staff. Morale is a bit low at the moment (see the HR initiative above). How can you help with keeping staff engaged and motivated to work with us?
I’m really interested in what you do. But it’s not unique, trust me. I’ve had 5 approaches from similar organisations in the last fortnight. Can’t you guys just work together? No, a table at your gala ball is not a unique opportunity. Champagne, a hotel room and Chris Hemsworth is a unique opportunity.
I’d love to promote your latest campaign/ event/ fundraiser in my internal comms. But I have to fight for space with every other department, including the compliance department with their latest compulsory training, the CEO’s weekly update and HR’s reiki healing wellness initiative. I need at least two months of lead time and some great content from you to cut through.
Community giving is only one part of my focus. I’m also working on modern slavery in the supply chain, measuring our response to the SDGs and creating a sustainability plan. Where do you fit in our strategy? Tell me how you can help.
Yes, it would be great to do online round-up donations for your charity and promote you on our website. But behind the scenes our website is a bit of a sh*tshow. The digital team outsourced it to this hipster agency in Newtown and every time we make changes it costs us a fortune. I need a really good business case to justify the effort.
I know we’ve got a lot of customer traffic in our stores and I’m sure they’d love to buy your merchandise. But Gerald the sales manager has final say on what goes in stores and he’s maximising every inch of space. Show me how your campaign is going to add to foot traffic and I’ll be able to twist his arm. If you want us to create bespoke merchandise, then we’ll need a 9-month lead time, as everything is manufactured in Bangladesh. Yes, I know it’s only July, but the Christmas range is already locked down. Get in quick for summer 2022.
Personally, I think climate change, hunger, homelessness, cancer and kids’ education are all really important and I really want to help. I’m inspired by the work you do- it must be great working in your charity. Help me to help you. Show me why you’re a good fit for my organisation and help me demonstrate to my CEO the value you bring and the impact we could make together. I need to provide regular reports on any partnership, so make sure you’ve got some outcomes I can measure and describe.
I’d like to build a relationship with you. I need to know I can count on you to deliver what you say you can. Get to know me and maybe we can both achieve what we want.
Got to run- I’ve got my 10th Zoom meeting for the day and the CEO needs a briefing for the board. Maybe I shouldn’t have signed up for Dry July and Jenny Craig this year.
Your future corporate partner