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Supporters changing lives

Evolving trends and practices in business-charity partnerships

Benjamin Janes1

In February, 10 homelessness charities came together under the brand ‘End Youth Homelessness’ to attract national corporate fundraising partnerships. We spoke to charity corporate partnerships consultant Benjamin Janes at The Trust Partnership to discuss this and other emerging trends in the charity corporate partnership sector.

Charities and corporates are always going to benefit from having strong relationships with each other – but sometimes it feels like each sector is evolving in different directions.

End Youth Homelessness sounds like a really exciting initiative and shows sector leadership. Often small and medium sized charities miss out on corporate partnerships to larger organisations so this sounds like a way to change this. The disruptive and innovative nature of the charity sector is what makes it such an exciting place to work.

One concern is that the relationship with the corporate could become even more complicated than it can sometimes be in charity corporate partnerships. This is because charities and businesses often speak a different language and this can be frustrating for both sides. So I think the homelessness charities collation needs to work hard to make sure they present a unified voice with consistent messages.

Working with a single charity can create easier connections and relationships because there is a straight line in terms of planning the activity. Problems come when the relationship breaks down, for example if there’s a staff change.  Relationships are very important. I have seen companies choose charity partners partly on the basis of who is in the corporate partnership team. They look corporate, sound corporate and people want to do business with people like them. Whatever the cause is, companies have to have people they can work with."

Two emerging trends

Kier Group volunteers

In the last nine years, we’ve seen two key trends emerging in charity corporate partnerships. The first is employee engagement, whether it’s volunteering, where companies have the opportunity to offer their graduate trainees, for example, a chance to help at a local charity or to sit on a board, perhaps as a trustee. We think skills-based volunteering is going to be increasingly important in the future.

The second key trend is the personalising of the philanthropic process. More companies are offering payroll giving and are trying to make those schemes more responsive and useable so that their employees can choose which charity they give their money to. Most have staff votes to choose charity partners. More are offering matched funding and what is called “dollars for doers” in the US, where companies match employee volunteer hours with a donation to that charity.

Successful partnerships will include really sophisticated and thoughtful models combining these two things.”

Xchanging logo

Xchanging and Barnardo’s

Barnardo’s recently began a partnership with business processing, procurement and technology service experts Xchanging as part Charity of the Year partnership. Having successfully supported an international charity for a number of years, Xchanging staff decided they wanted to work with a single charity based in the UK. Molly Cutler, Internal Communications Manager at Xchanging reveals why they chose Barnardo’s as their first national charity partner.

Barnardo’s came top in our staff vote for charity of the year. It’s important that our staff choose the charity because we need their support to make the partnership work. Barnardo’s met two of our corporate responsibility criteria: people and education. They work with children and are a national charity which is important as we wanted a cause to unite all of our offices and UK staff.”

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