For many businesses navigating the world of CSR and social value for the first time, the gains can be tremendous but the learning curve is correspondingly high. One of the main challenges is to find a charity partner that will support your giving objectives and work with you successfully for the long term for mutual gains.
It is essential that you choose a cause that makes sense to your business and your stakeholders. When done correctly, collaborating with the right charity partner will achieve profound bottom-line benefits and maximum societal benefit. But what can you do to ensure you get this right? Whether you’re starting out or seriously you’re upscaling your operations, these tips will help you identify the right charity partner for you.
1. SIZE MATTERS
Contrary to the belief, when it comes to finding the right charity partner, size really does matter. Start by looking for charities that match your aims, size and outlook. If you are a small business then you might want to keep things closer to home by connecting with a local charity that has particular meaning or resonance to the communities you serve. A national brand may wish to partner with a national charity with a much broader scope to meet their needs and their bandwidth. If there’s a mismatch with the size and outlook of your business and a prospective partner then you may struggle to maintain the relationship in the longer term and successfully achieving joint objectives could become tricky.
2. FIND THE SYNERGY
Next, think about aligning your own values – for example, a family-focused charity is the ideal partner for a family-run SME. Your industry will also play a pivotal role in the decision-making process for finding the right partner. Water companies may choose charities which provide clean water access to developing countries, in the way construction companies may choose charities which provide shelter and housing.
Recently we supported one of our most valued clients Fusion for Business (FFB), a leading provider of business energy cost saving solutions in the County Durham region to partner with local organisation Durham Wildlife Trust after identifying and aligning their joint mission to combat climate change and raise awareness for the urgent need to preserve UK nature.
As a business devoted to reducing carbon wastage, FFB is the perfect partner for Durham Wildlife Trust. FFB passionate about supporting Durham Wildlife Trust in their efforts to conserve the wild habitats within the local meadows, peatlands and woodlands in the Consett area in order to promote carbon absorption and keep it’s release to a minimum.
The partnership is already seeing dramatic acceleration of these areas being protected as FFB commit to protecting one acre of nature for every customer the business serves. As part of the initiative, each customer will be allocated an acre number and provided with regular communication regarding the perseveration of their acre.
Check out our latest video with FFB & Durham Wildlife Trust to find out more:
Having a clear connection and synergy that truly resonates with your employees, customers and wider stakeholders is imperative for success.
Not only does this ensure that your people are motivated and engaged to support the collaboration with as much time and energy to maximise the funds raised and the final value from the partnership, but it gives a genuine ‘reason to believe’ (RTB) for your audience to get involved too.
3. LOOK FOR TRANSPARENCY
Business today demands transparency. It is vital that your chosen CSR charity partner commits to transparency in the same way that you do. They must be clear about their approach to operating in an open and honest way to ensure that your reputations and the sustainability of your partnership are strengthened.
It is also important to make sure that you are clear on how any charity of interest will allocate received funds or volunteering efforts to maximise impact. You need to be sure that your efforts will attain as much value as possible and that you can confidently report on successes to your stakeholders. The right charity will be able to clearly explain and evidence their approach. For example, child sponsorship charities are now far clearer on how sponsorship money is spent so that donors know exactly what proportion of donations will go to advertising, marketing and administration costs rather than the end sponsor.
4. KEEP IT PROFESSIONAL
Seek to approach your CSR charity partner selection in a strategic, measured way – much in the way that you would any other supplier or partner – and involve a panel of internal people to help make the right decision.
Of course, it will be a final blend of heart and mind, but with the knowledge that this decision will be crucial to your social value strategy – and your overall business strategy – and therefore it cannot be taken lightly or without care and due diligence.