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How to successfully collaborate with corporates

Partnerships is one of the closest forms of collaboration which require real engagement from both corporates and charities. To succeed, long-lasting partnerships rely on shared values, open communication and creativity

Collaboration between corporates and the third sector can take many shapes and forms depending on the goals of such collaboration: workshops, branded events, donations, etc. Yet, corporates and organisations in the third sector are increasingly choosing to collaborate together via long-term partnerships to make a positive and lasting impact on the society or the environment.

Being closest collaboration form that can bring companies and charities together in a shared vision, partnerships demand considerable time and effort from both parties as well as good communication channels.

The reasons for choosing a partnership over any other type of collaboration are diverse: on the one hand, companies have realised the extensive benefits of creating a partnership with charities and NGOs which range from attracting more customers to raising profile, engaging employees and ultimately doing “good business”. Likewise, charities and NGOs have also understood that a partnership with corporates can help raise awareness of their missions and engage citizens in their cause (plus a nice set of other advantages including support and a prospect of increased donations and/or investments).

Partnerships are easy to create but equally easy to dissolve. My 5 tips on creating a successful partnership with corporates include:

Search for a win-win: both parties will feel more compelled to take action if they can both take away something from it. In CSR terms, we call this ‘materiality’. A CSR project or partnership needs to make business sense or it will not prevail over time. Align both your objectives and shared values to make the partnership last.

Fully commit to it (and ask your counterpart to do the same): A joint commitment to the project will be key. Signs of sluggishness, might lead the other party to get frustrated and drop the project, namely if this happens on the early stages of the partnership. A firm commitment at both the executive and staff levels provide an incentive for all sides to buy into the partnership and champion its success.

Define everyone’s role: see which responsibilities and roles everyone will have and be clear on them from the start. This will facilitate the implementation of the project and ensure clear communication channels.

Have open and honest communication: be clear about what you want, what is expected from each party, what can be improved - and be very proactive about it. All relationships whether in personal life or in business have their ups and downs. A partnership needs cherishing and a lot of communication; concerns need to be raised, as soon as they are identified, so that both parties can find a suitable solution. Healthy relationships based on openness lead to improved performance and a steady evolution of the project.

Be creative: a partnership doesn’t necessarily mean to have a branded-event on an in-day volunteering service – these can sometimes prove even more troublesome for charities who may not have the space or the resources to host and/or train volunteers. A creative project which plays onto everyone’s strengths can help both parties stand out and be more efficient, so think outside the box (and ensure the win-win).

If you have any questions or queries, on need support creating partnerships, please do not hesitate to let me know:

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