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Initiatives that make a difference

Tips for a successful Charity of the Year pitch


Grace Robinson is a Business Development Manager at Barnardo’s, with extensive experience in the world of corporate social responsibility.

Before arriving at Barnardo’s nearly three years ago, Grace worked in advertising for six years, for the likes of digital agency, Dare. She shares some of her top tips for successfully securing a Charity of the Year partnership, as well as giving us a fascinating look behind the scenes at her fast-paced job…

The Barnardo’s Corporate Partnership Team includes staff responsible for acquiring new partners as well as those nurturing existing relationships, to ensure a great experience throughout.

Corporate partners are vital to Barnardo’s success in transforming the lives of around 200,000 of the UK’s most vulnerable children each year, bringing in around £3 million per annum. It is no surprise then, that things are ‘all go’ for our Grace!

She said: “By working hard and achieving these partnerships, we help to raise even more funds to help the children we work with. That is a great motivation for what I do on a day-to-day basis.

“When we secure a new partnership it really is such an incredible feeling, although there’s little time to celebrate because we have to get things going straight away!”

How does it work?

The process usually begins when the team contacts desired partners to find out if they are interested in the possibility of working together. They may have a complimentary ethos or brand fit, such as current partner Dunelm, who has a shared ‘audience type’ with the families it attracts. Sometimes companies will get in touch directly, and staff within a firm may nominate the charity for inclusion in their annual application process.

Grace, who has secured Barnardo’s partnerships with the likes of Shoosmiths, Balfour Beatty and Dunelm said: “Often we then have to fill out an application form for each pitch, and they are incredibly detailed. It is here that we will explain what their money could achieve, and show them just how much of a difference they can make…

“We also include exciting ideas about how they can fundraise, and engage their staff at this point. This is one of the key strengths Barnardo’s has I think, the desire to be really creative and tailor partnerships that are beneficial for everyone involved.”

A major organisation may have more than 100 charities approach them requesting to become charity of the year, so competition is fierce. Once the form has been sent, it is a matter of waiting to hear of whether or not Barnardo’s has made it through to the next round…


For every application Barnardo’s submits, Grace says that we currently have around a 65% success rate - a positive rate bearing in mind the many organisations vying for support from corporate audiences.

Before partnerships are confirmed, Grace and her colleagues are asked to present to anyone from the CEO and board members, to staff ‘Charity Champions’ who are at the heart of supporting successful fundraising events.

Grace said: “There’s always such a buzz on the day. It’s really exciting to go and meet them. Sometimes we speak to more staff, and answer questions. If time is limited it can be difficult to explain just how many different issues partners can address with their support for our children and young people, so we have to be well prepared before we go there.”

Many companies will then hold a staff vote, to make the final decision from the small number of shortlisted charities. Tailored videos can be submitted by each charity, to be shown on company intranet systems.

And then it is just a matter of waiting…

Grace said: “It can take around three weeks to hear. Usually, if it is bad news it comes in an email, and if we’ve got it, there is often a phone call first! It’s the most exciting thing when it works out, and when you come off the phone, everyone claps and cheers!”

Grace’s top tips

1) Tailor

Identify shared objectives where possible. Our partnerships are mutually beneficial, and shared goals can help to achieve buy-in across both organisations.

2) Bring your cause to life

Offer ‘site visits’ if you can… We like to give our prospective partners the chance to visit our projects, so they can see just how life-changing their support can be. It really brings it to life.

3) Embrace digital

Being creative and forward-facing with digital makes a huge difference. Many companies are looking to partner with charities which can collaborate with them on exciting digital projects.

4) Think wider

Barnardo’s is able to offer prospective partners opportunities with the many supporters we engage with through the retail arm of our business. You can get really creative in engaging different audiences that you may not normally link with corporate activity.

5) Go local

Our local Corporate Relationship Managers enable us to get to the heart of what is going on locally. Having a presence across the country can be hugely beneficial.

Find out more about Barnardo's Corporate Partnerships.

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