Report lays bare the realities of corporate partnerships

Unicef USA fitness bands

A study by social change agency, Forster Communications reveals the potential for corporate partnerships to work harder and achieve more for businesses and charities alike if they take a longer term approach rather than focusing just on the potential financial return.

While funds from corporates are vital, too much emphasis is put to the bottom line, rather than finding ways to unlock deeper and sustained social change through aligned purpose, products and staff engagement.

In the study, Forster consulted 28 charities with annual incomes ranging from £1m to over £200m. It identifies cultural and logistical differences between the charity and business sectors as key challenges to overcome in order to work more closely together.

Over three quarters of charities feel genuine buy-in from partners’ senior teams is a limiting factor. Almost half say corporates need to do more to motivate their staff to get behind the partnership and 85% call for more integration to help ensure the best possible outcome.

Whilst these challenges exist it is not a surprise that 70% of those surveyed said the first aspect of a partnership they look at is the money on offer. Further, over 90% of charities would accept a partnership if it was purely a donation with no additional depth of relationship.

The study showed that charities are selective about who they partner with. Every charity said that they consider brand values of a partner and over two thirds said they had rejected a partnership due to fears of negative brand association.

There was widespread interest in working with technology companies in order to realise the advantages that new and rapidly changing digital platforms and intelligence could bring to service provision.

George Ames, head of the Forster’s Activation practice said: “Charities are currently caught between an urgent need to fundraise to support existing services and the desire to build longer term, solution orientated partnerships for change. 

“While the potential for corporate-charity collaboration is clear, the reality is often frustrating with the majority of relationships still based on passive giving from business to charity.

“We know this is starting to change and there are examples of active and involved partnerships being led by progressive leaders from both sectors.  

“It requires new thinking and the ability to try and test over the long term, but the long term potential of uniting the different insights, knowledge and resources around a common cause is very exciting.”

Related reading

Charity image
Digital Marketing