As governments around the world take cautious steps towards re-opening economic activity, most corporates, large and small, will be reforecasting and reshaping their businesses to adapt to the new environment. Some will need drastic action to survive (Virgin, Qantas) and others will be building on unexpected successes (Coles, Woolworths).
What’s clear is that competition among non-profits for corporate partnerships is likely to intensify in a post-COVID19 economy. However, there will be plenty of exciting opportunities for charities with the right approach: that means a shift from ‘selling’ your programs or services to uncovering the problems that the corporate is encountering and how you can collaborate to solve them together. The post COVID environment means less budget available for corporate philanthropy, but an appetite for real strategic alignment.
If you’re aiming to be the solution to a corporate’s problems, then what are the hot issues they are experiencing right now?
Meaningful engagement for employees and stakeholders
Employees are looking to businesses to protect their wellbeing and financial security in these uncertain times. Corporates are trying hard to keep employees and suppliers engaged and supported but need help to do so effectively. Charities are well placed to offer content, expertise and inspiration. Good examples include the valuable mental health content provided by Beyond Blue and Black Dog, resources from The Resilience Project and advice for parents from UNICEF. For corporates looking for inspiration then a recent initiative by Guide Dogs Australia would be hard to beat. The charity hosted its first Zoom Puppy Meeting which featured no humans but plenty of dogs, outlining the training process for a guide dog puppy. What a wonderful way to kindle happiness in the middle of a work day and raise awareness of the charity’s important work.
Building trust with customers
As the Edelman COVID-19 research showed, 89% of people want to know that corporate brands are helping during this crisis. The challenge for businesses is to do so authentically, without appearing to be profiteering or overtly promoting themselves at the expense of the community. A recent innovative campaign by Lifeline called “30 seconds to save a life” is a standout example of enabling corporates to offer meaningful support at the same time as promoting their social purpose credentials. Corporates were encouraged to donate 30 seconds of advertising time to Lifeline, to enable the charity to reach a bigger audience for fundraising and awareness. Corporates as diverse as Bunnings, Officeworks, Westpac and Uncle Toby’s jumped at the opportunity to align with a charity whose services are in high demand in the current crisis.
Communicating and living their social purpose
The Corporate/ EY Global Leadership Forecast showed that purposeful companies outperform the stock market by 42%. For corporates there is a financial imperative to demonstrate social impact, not just meet community expectations. In a competitive business environment, corporates need to stand out from the crowd and authentic expressions of their social purpose are effective ways to create an advantage. Coles supermarkets were already donating surplus food to SecondBite and Foodbank as part of their strategy to feed all Australians and help them lead healthier lives. In response to the COVID-19 crisis they provided an extra $1mln in food per week for vulnerable Australians- a response that was a perfect fit with their stated social purpose.
There will be opportunities for exciting new corporate-community partnerships but charities will need to shake off the old paradigms of selling need and focus instead on collaborating with a partner to create solutions to the tricky issues that corporates are facing and the core societal impact that you can both make together.
You’ll need to be fully prepared for this new partnerships environment. If you’d like to know more about accelerating your corporate partnerships then contact us at email@example.com. Our next online Partnerships Acceleration System training starts in two weeks, so book your spot now: https://stellarpartnerships.com/what-do-we-offer/training/