BLOG: 7 Top Tips for Charity/ Private Partnerships

Voluntary Action Leicestershire (VAL) Future Focus conference

During a recent keynote speech at Voluntary Action Leicestershire (VAL)’s Future Focus conference, business leader and charity Trustee Dr Nik Kotecha OBE, shared his 7 top tips for charities looking to better engage with the Private Sector.

“The UK’s charitable sector is experiencing unprecedented challenges, as fundraising becomes more difficult, competition increases and cuts in public funding continue.

At the same time the way in which people donate is changing through the generations, the markets are contracting, while there is increased demand for charities’ services.

This perfect storm means that charities of all sizes need to be more entrepreneurial about fundraising. It also means that charities should look to engage with businesses far more. They may wish to look at operating in a similar way by taking a more entrepreneurial approach, which could lead to developing more sustainable funding streams.

I’m passionate about encouraging the Charity Sector to partner with the Private Sector and vice versa, which is a win-win for both, as there is so much we can learn from each other.

Here are my 7 Top Tips for building engagement and long-term relationships between the two.

1. Get Heard

As competition increases the old adage of ‘the ones that shout the loudest, get the most funding’ rings true. I see businesses giving to the same charities, because they know them, and see them all of the time. So charities, particularly smaller charities that are under the radar, need to shout a lot more about what they are doing. This maybe through your social media channels, where you can share a wealth of positive information and build a loyal following, to sending regular press releases into the media to achieve positive PR.

Applying for awards, such as those run by local business groups, Press or the Chamber of Commerce, is also a great way to raise your charity’s profile. The more you get yourselves out there the more familiar businesses will be with your work and the more likely they are to be open to forging long-term partnerships.

2. Nominate a Business Lead 

It’s all well and good promoting your Charity but it will be difficult to cultivate business engagement without a designated business lead. This person can be the primary point of contact to provide consistency, develop a shared dialogue, network at business events and build relationships.

3. Get Involved 

Locally and nationally the Private Sector is awash with networking events, conferences and other opportunities to meet and engage business contacts. Select events which fit well with your charity’s mission and values and make sure you send representation. Talk to people there about your work and if possible try and secure speaking opportunities so you can promote your activities to as wide an audiences as possible.

4. Be Proactive

Some of the most successful collaborations will come if you take a proactive approach. Why not set up business clubs or round-table events in your local area. This way you can build familiarity with your brand amongst business professionals, as well as establish funding streams, if businesses are willing to donate to take part.

5. Look to Influencers

We live in a media society, where influential people and businesses can make a huge impact on the fundraising successes of charities. Try and cultivate relationships with high profile people in your area. These could be influential people from a local sports team, to celebrities living locally, or even leading business people. Try and nurture these people into advocates and you can then ask them to support with specific projects.

You will find they will be able to open doors and secure publicity, which will help forge business partnerships. They will also be able to share knowledge, contacts and make referrals.

6. Build Partnerships

Once you have established a close relationship with a business, you can then work with them to help with your fundraising activities. A lot of businesses choose one charity a year for their employees to support, which means they will actively fundraise for you, as well as publicise all of the activities through their channels. You can also look at hosting gala dinners, sponsorship opportunities and fundraising days at their offices. Try and get them involved in your campaigns too and look for opportunities like asking them to donate to your charity rather than sending Christmas cards, each year.

7. Continuously Improve Together

As your partnerships develop, you should seek business’ support and guidance to improve key areas. Identify the big challenges for your charity that could be solved with the help of the private sector and prioritise these. Build objectives into key projects to seek external partnerships, and reframe business partnerships as opportunities to cut costs or achieve activities that otherwise may not be possible. It may also be helpful to share insights and establish shadowing and mentoring opportunities with businesses to help understand how their processes could be of benefit. Remember this also works both ways and there is a huge amount of best practice that you can also share with businesses.

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