Why learning together gives companies more than just knowledge
July 26, 2020
Essential viewing if you host Zoom meetings and webinars
August 3, 2020
Home > News > More than money: Five business benefits of charity partnerships

July 26, 2020

More than money: Five business benefits of charity partnerships

During the five years I worked on the partnership between my last company and the wonderful charity they supported, we raised over £1,000,000. An astounding result by 3,000-ish employees spread all over the UK.

Having chosen a relatively small, lean charity, the money made an astonishing impact – sometimes fully funding whole projects or clearing waiting lists for equipment. Committing to become partners for several years also provided stability, enabling the charity to unlock other revenue streams such grants that needed guarantees of matched fundraising. Being able to tell the story of our impact through numbers, personal stories and regularly meeting the charity team and families they support was a never-ending source of positivity.

So, as it’s the International Day of Charity on September 5th, designed to raise awareness of charitable support across the world, it felt like a good time to reflect on the other business benefits that come from a well-planned charity partnership. These benefits are central to improving workplace engagement and have a whole lot more power than just a warm and fuzzy feeling from raising money.

How many of these engagement benefits could you do with experiencing in your company?

Leadership visibility

If you want your employees to trust you, they need to see you. Not once or twice. Not infrequent state-of-the-nation broadcasts. They need opportunities to build a human connection with you and get a sense of what matters to you. Seeing leaders in a business regularly get hands-on with a charity partnership knocks low-level cynicism about ivory towers into a cocked hat and closes the gap in perception around what leaders say and what they do.

With that trust and goodwill built up, when you need to communicate with employees about other areas of the business, it’s much easier to bring people along with you.

Professional pride

League tables, biggest improvers, percentage of team involvement, numbers of events, time given – chunking up fundraising in ways that create friendly rivalry between teams will get the competitive juices flowing.

One of the biggest successes within our partnership was making contributions to the team’s fundraising for certain business targets being completed. This was really important, as a charity partnership should feel part of the business, not be a distraction or a burden to somehow fit in with everything else. Creating a direct link between business performance and charitable giving demonstrated that the partnership had the commitment of the leadership team and could be talked about during recruitment, onboarding and to customers as being part of the company culture.

Health check

It’s not unusual for business KPI’s to be based around financial performance, but there’s as many ways to hit target as there are ways to skin a cat. You can have teams smashing targets out of the park, but if its being done by burning people out along the way, that doesn’t make for great long-term business success.

Through tracking team fundraising each month, it quickly becomes apparent if a team is struggling – usually well before it shows up in financial reporting. Teams will battle on to achieve KPIs because they know this is how they’re being judged; monitoring charitable activity will quickly show up a dip that can be investigated and support put in place. It could be a change in manager, unexpected vacancies, or any number of other workplace issues. The benefit here is that a change in a team’s usual behaviour is spotted quickly before a dodgy patch becomes real disengagement.

Unexpected leaders

We’ve all met brilliant employees who don’t appear on corporate development programmes because they’re not comfortable putting themselves forward, aren’t spotted by course sponsors, or even because they’re not in the kinds of roles seen as fertile ground for rising stars.

A charitable partnership creates roles in project planning, communication, influencing and creative thinking that can be taken on by any employee. Outside of traditional job roles, charity events showcase people’s skills in resilience, tenacity and versatility – and an eagle-eyed leader will use them to spot potential talent.

Tangible values

Pretty much every company has a set of values, but far fewer have a concrete plan to show these values in action frequently enough for them to be felt at every level of the company. Step forward your charity partnership, through which you can demonstrate a huge range of values-lead behaviours that have a direct benefit to employees, the charity, your customers and the community in which you operate. Planned well, a charity partnership becomes a cornerstone of your culture.

If you’re thinking about culture and communication opportunities in your company, if you have a charity partnership that you’re not making the most of, or you’re a charity wanting to create a strong business case for partnerships, then connect with me on LinkedIn and let’s have a chat.