If 2020 had been a computer, you would have rebooted and restored factory settings a long time ago. Too many glitches, failures and unforeseen error messages. Alas, we don’t have the luxury of a reboot. Instead, we’re all cautiously looking towards a more positive and stable 2021 with the glimmer of hope for a collective recovery.
Analysts have been looking at what type of economic recovery we’ll have from the COVID year. Could it be U or V -shaped or even look like a Nike swoosh? The smart thinking has focused on an emerging K-shaped recovery. The two divergent prongs of the K mean an uneven economy, where the gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ widens further. It could mean a greater demand for your charity’s services. More people will need your services . This also applies to different corporate sectors. Some businesses will thrive, and others struggle further.
You want your NFP to be on the upward path of a K-shaped recovery and to be best positioned to make the most of any rebound. Your corporate partnerships will play an important part in creating the sustainable and effective solutions that the community needs. Like the ‘phoney war’ in 1939, it won’t all be over by Christmas. There are some simple things you need to do now to reboot and get ready for 2021 and beyond.
Circle the wagons
You need to be shoring up and investing in your existing corporate relationships. At the beginning of the COVID crisis Georgie Harman, the CEO of Beyond Blue, personally called the CEOs of each corporate partner. She checked in, expressed gratitude, offered support and provided updates. No wonder that Beyond Blue has continued to thrive and grow their partnerships. You need to be investing in building corporate relationships at all levels, not just at partnership manager level. The more multi-level relationships, the stickier the partnership becomes. There’s also less risk that the partnership falls over if your key contact gets made redundant.
Sharpen your acquisition skills
The economic recovery will be unpredictable, so you’ll need to keep working on new corporate partnerships. Yes, there are still plenty of opportunities out there if you’re strategic- and they’re not just COVID related. If something as unglamorous as the UK charity The Soil Association can build exciting new partnerships, then there’s hope for everyone.
Be generous in service
Everything you’ve done for your corporate partners this year will influence the type of partnership future you’ll have in 2021. If you’ve been generous in offering advice, expertise, shareable content and a willingness to help with their tricky problems, then you’re sowing the seeds for a strong recovery. The Australian Ballet helped one of their partners address the problem of staff under pressure whilst working from home with children. They created ballet story time for children and dedicated Zoom ballet lessons with some of their key performers. It was a wonderful use of their assets to help solve their partner’s pain point.
Get your organisational foundations sorted
The partnerships landscape for 2021 will be competitive, so you need to make sure you’ve got the strategic foundations right. Have you got a clear value proposition for your partners, based on a compelling offer? Are your leaders fully mobilised to help you nurture relationships? Do you have a partnership plan? As General George Patton once said, “if you haven’t got a plan, you’re just a tourist.” The coming months are not going to be tourist friendly, so put in place the right foundations for corporate partnerships.
A K-shaped economy will favour those organisations that have spent time positioning themselves properly. Don’t rely on partnership methods that worked in a pre-COVID environment. Use the reboot as the opportunity to shed the unreliable model of corporate philanthropy and set yourself on the upward slope of the K.
When you’re ready, here are three ways we can help:
- Subscribe to our Partnerships News in the box below and get our latest blogs, tips and free resources.
- Register for our next group training program Partnership Acquisition Skills to sharpen your sales skills.
- Book a free 30 min health check about your partnerships: firstname.lastname@example.org