Take the heat out of selecting a charity partnership

When it comes to finding the right charity partner, there are many questions to to grapple with. Which cause to support? National, state or local? How well branded should the charity be and importantly, how many charities should we partner with?

There are also issues around what budgets and resources are allocated, and considerations of what outcomes the company is seeking to achieve once all this work is done.

We speak to Good2Give Client Relations Manager, Chris Wishart, to better understand how companies can come to a decision that’s good for the business and the community.

In your experience, what are the key challenges that companies encounter when they go about selecting a charity partner?

There are a myriad of issues and stakeholders to consider, which can be quite daunting for a company, especially one that hasn’t gone through the process before.

Most of these challenges can be overcome by being very clear from the beginning on what you’re actually after and developing a shared strategic vision from there. If the partnership is foremost about engaging employees and boosting a workplace culture then the organisation selection process, the fundraising expectations and community engagement model all needs to reflect this.

If it’s primarily about extending existing services to the community in a philanthropic sense, then those involved in the decision and the charities themselves will again need to be quite different.

Giving and charity preferences can be very personal. Can we expect internal frictions to arise when sides get taken?

When the process is done entirely in house, then yes, I think this is a risk. The decision to establish a community partnership generally comes from the top – from the CEO and the Executive Leadership Team. Even when internal processes are put in place, the selection process can get murky.

Why is that?

Like you said, community preferences can often be emotionally charged. Although most companies will setup a committee to consider partnership alignment to business goals as well as program objectives, when this is navigated solely in-house, we sometimes see a very different assessment of charities being applied at executive level.

While the “captain’s pick” mostly doesn’t occur these days, it sometimes rears its head. So, despite a thoroughly good intention, not only does the business miss out on a strategically identified charity partner, so too does the community.

Failing to develop a durable and mutually beneficial partnership is ultimately neither good for the business or its charitable impact.

Do you have any tips on how to avoid this?

Working with a professional advisor can really help take the rose coloured glasses off and see community engagement for what it is, a professional relationship that needs to be transparent and strategic.

Now the big question – is it worth it?

Absolutely! Not just for the involvement and participation of employees, but also for the thousands of community organisations that companies work with each year. In just two years, The Reject Shop have alone contributed $370,000 to kids in need since the establishing a sound and strategic community parternship model.

Whether it be mentoring, up-skilling or staff fundraising – these partnerships can support charities grow in a multitude of ways that other supporter relationships just don’t offer. When done well, with the due diligence and due process, it’s a wonderful process to be a part of and I’d greatly encourage more Australian companies to consider it.

Contact one of Good2Give’s expert consultants to better understand how your business can engage with the charity and not-for-profit sector in a sustainable and thriving way.