What do corporate partners want from their causes?

With an estimated 600,000 not-for-profits operating in Australia finding the right corporate partner to support your cause can be hard work. We look at four key factors to consider in seeking corporate support for your charity.

An ethical alignment

Shared values are essential to a strong corporate/charity relationship. It’s a notion supported by research on the makings of successful sponsorships conducted by The University of Queensland Business School in conjunction with the Australian Red Cross.The 2014 study found that the best partnerships had high similarity and a high-fit.

The 2014 study found that the best partnerships had high similarity and a high-fit.

"For example, if a company seen as providing fresh, healthy food sponsors the Australian Red Cross, people can readily see what the sponsor and non-profit have in common. Not only is there a similarity on health grounds but it is also a high-fit relationship because people can see a clear benefit of improving people’s health,” said Dr Ravi Pappu on the three-year-long research study he headed up.

"By contrast, any fast-food chain viewed as a junk food producer would have less similarity with non-profit organisations promoting health, and this sponsorship would be a low-fit because of [the] negative health benefit perceived.”

The partnership must be a sincere one to be truly successful. “People should perceive a genuine effort from the corporate sponsor to benefit the cause. The partnership could arouse public suspicion if it is seen just as an attempt to build market share or meet shareholder expectations or, even worse, if it is viewed as an attempt to avoid tax or take advantage of the non-profit organisation.”


A motivated team

The best people in the business are those who are passionate, motivated and believe in their work.  If you can share (and sell) your cause’s vision and back it up with a team that will make projects happen, you’re likely to impress the hardest of potential corporate partners.

Research the company, find out if and why they would make a successful partner. Personalise your pitch. Make it unique to them. Show them you’ve done your homework. Explore and offer ideas and suggestions around how you can work together. Nurture and build relationships.

Communication is key. Ask and answer questions, listen and make it as easy and enjoyable a process as possible. Be accountable and available. Check in regularly, start conversations and seek feedback throughout the process. Ensure that your team work together to deliver what your corporate partner needs to make it a long-term relationship, instead of a one-off project.

Share the story

Make sharing the story a part of the campaign strategy. Identify the stories in the campaign, how they will be captured and what channels they can be shared through. For example, acknowledge the support of your corporate partner by sharing a note of thanks, highlights of the campaign or the results in a press release, a blog, on social media and e-newsletters. This will help raise awareness of both the campaign and corporate partner among your not-for-profit’s audience and beyond.


Business results and metrics

‘What did we achieve?’ It’s a fair question and one that more and more corporate partners expect charities to be able to answer in detail. Set goals during the development stage of any campaign. Find out what metrics matter to your corporate partner and look at how you can provide them with insights around this. Know that ROI and value are what you can give back to your corporate partner for their support.

Technology is starting to play a bigger role in this. The Benojo platform addresses the needs of both corporates and not-for-profits seamlessly integrating administration, implementation and reporting in one place that is easily accessed and transparent to all parties involved. An example of this at work is GroupM’s Power of One day, which saw them generate over $130k of value for 12 charities.

What other factors do you think corporate partners seek from not-for-profit partners?

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