This week Australian students go back to school after the summer holidays. You can hear the sighs of relief and popping of champagne corks from parents who’ve kept them entertained all summer. The shops have been busy draining the parental wallet for everything the kids need for a successful year. But beyond the books, shoes and stationery, there are other elements that are key to success- and they are the same for corporate- community partnerships.
In our 20 years of corporate partnerships we’ve seen plenty of organisations with potential for corporate partnerships. What we’ve noticed about the ones who have created truly transformational partnerships are the following four key ingredients: the 4C’s.
High quality training is essential to building the capability of individuals and organisations. Many people working in corporate partnerships have transitioned from other roles such as corporate sales or marketing or other fundraising areas such as events or community engagement. Corporate partnerships are unique and need the right training to ensure a strategic approach. One corporate partnership manager told us that she’d been given a KPI of making 50 new calls to prospective partners each week. By the time she’d made about 300 calls with not a flicker of interest, she was desperate- and her boss was frustrated. Neither the partnership manager nor her boss had any experience, proper training or coaching support in corporate partnerships, and they were both stuck in a cycle of frustration. Appropriate education, guidance and support is essential to set up the individual and organisation for success. Contrast this with Beyond Blue, one of Australia’s leading mental health charities. They have invested in hiring experienced corporate partnerships talent, providing training for their new staff and coaching for their partnerships team. They have already won some valuable partnerships and are pushing ahead with new and transformational partnership opportunities.
It’s easier to be confident if you have experience or training behind you. But a confident and clear vision enables you to build a compelling proposition for a corporate partner. It’s a sobering fact that corporate partners are rarely excited by simply funding your ‘business as usual’. Dreams are more seductive, particularly if they look like making a big social impact. An organisation that is confident in what it does, where it’s going and the impact it makes will be much more attractive to a corporate partner. Save the Children UK could have been satisfied with their £250k partnerships with Glaxosmithkline: it funded some valuable programs in Africa. Instead they set an ambitious goal to ‘save the lives of 1 million children’. The global CEO of GSK jumped at the chance and now they’ve surpassed their goal of 1 million lives saved and this transformational partnership is worth over £70mln.
At Stellar Partnerships we continually find organisations that have started and restarted their work on corporate partnerships- they’ve often hit a plateau and got stuck or they’ve been churning through different corporate partnership managers. They’re incredibly frustrated. To make progress on partnerships, an organisation needs to take a systematic approach, building partnerships from a foundation of core strategic alignment, strong organisational capability and investment in the right talent. Otherwise, you’ll be like World Vision when I worked there, and have 4 different heads of partnerships in 3 years.
When we choose schools for our children, we seek input on the prevailing culture- will it support my child and help her be successful? At my daughter’s school the English teacher turned up on the morning of the final Year 12 exam with plates of vegemite toast. He knew the girls would be stressed and anxious before their first exam, and probably missed breakfast. Such a simple act showed everything about the culture of an organisation that was absolutely dedicated to helping the students succeed and feel supported. In the same way, corporate partnerships need a cohesive and supportive organisational culture to thrive and grow. Partnerships really do take a village, not just one talented partnerships manager. Ovarian Cancer Australia was one of our favourite clients because of their organisational culture. The teams knew and trusted one another, they talked frequently about their impact on women diagnosed with cancer in the most respectful and compassionate manner and they mobilised everyone to work together on new opportunities. A collaborative culture is at the centre of transformational partnerships. No wonder that Ovarian Cancer Australia were able to secure four new, strategically aligned partners that year.
The key components of success are an easy equation:
Capability + confidence= ambition
Capability + consistency = trust
Confidence + consistency = higher value
Confidence + capability + consistency + culture = successful, sustainable partnerships
The 4C’s are the cornerstones of transformation partnerships, but you need all four working together. If you look at your own organisation, how many are you confident that you’ve got in place?
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or subscribe to our newsletter on our website www.stellarpartnerships.com