Spring sunshine has arrived and it’s shining a light into the dusty corners of my house. I’ve got a spider family that has not so much taken up residence but has stayed long enough to raise grandchildren and put on a home extension above my kitchen cupboards. So I broke out the dusters and committed to a spring clean before Mrs Spider starts thinking about adding a pool room.
It’s surprisingly satisfying and cathartic to clean away the cobwebs and get ready for a new season. After a long year of lockdowns and upheavals we’ve all been running so hard to keep up that we just need to stop and clear the decks.
February is traditionally prime pitching time for new corporate partnerships. Here are some tips to make sure you’re ready in sparkling form.
Does it spark joy?
For any of you who’ve tried to Kondo your closet, you’ll know that that the first step is to discard what no longer serves you. Have you taken a hard look at your existing partnerships? When we’ve reviewed charities that have a busy portfolio, we’ve noticed a few familiar things. There are always the energy suckers, who demand a Rolls Royce level of attention for a disappointingly low commitment in return. If you’ve got relationship builders in your partnership team, they’ll be spending a lot of time working hard to please them. You’ll also have a few partners that have gone cold. You know the ones- they haven’t been to an event for a while, often don’t respond to emails and their commitment level hasn’t changed for a few years. The effort that goes into unproductive partnerships is a drain on your time and effort and can hold you back from prospecting for new partners. Follow the Kondo approach and exit the ones who no longer spark joy- or bring a smile to your boss when she asks for more income. Then you’ll be able to spend time nurturing your unsung heroes, who are already asking you ‘what else can I do?’
Refresh your evidence bank
Do you have an evidence bank? We encourage the participants in our Partnership Acquisition Skills program to build one and keep it updated. An evidence bank contains the proof that your organisation is a credible and desirable community partner. It includes testimonials from previous partners, examples of different types of partnerships and activations and tangible evidence of the outcomes you’ve achieved. It’s not the same as a program report with numbers of beneficiaries. The evidence bank needs to speak to corporates in their language, about what you’ve achieved for their business eg increased staff engagement, reduced attrition, greater customer satisfaction.
Get testimonials from your existing partners- even better, get images and videos. You won’t be able to get the business impact unless you ask your partner, or you add the key measures to your contract. Don’t reach the end of a valuable partnership without asking for evidence of impact and results. You’re aiming to build your evidence bank with enough proof that a new partner will instantly say, “I want one of those too”.
Tidy up your collateral
Do you have a partnership credentials brochure that still has the name of your predecessor from 3 years ago? Does it include your latest information or research? It may not seem a priority when you’ve got a pile of stuff to manage, but outdated collateral doesn’t make your organisation shine. In a competitive landscape, you need to be best dressed for every opportunity. Make sure you review the content and update regularly. As many people are working remotely, you can simply update the digital version and only print when necessary. Don’t have boxes of glossy but outdated brochures piled under your desk. Nimble, responsive and current will trump thick and glossy every time.
As we head into a new season and hopefully, the chance to connect with people face to face, you need to make sure you’re ready to put your best foot forward. As you shake off the trackies and T-shirts, make sure your partnership portfolio is best dressed for success.