There are some prolific examples of businesses investing considerable time and expense in charity partnerships.
For instance, Prostate Cancer UK has long partnered with UK football leagues, clubs and personalities to raise awareness of the disease. It’s why you see their immediately recognisable silhouette badge on the suit jackets of the biggest names in the sport.
Apple has also demonstrated the power of linking a big brand with a vitally important cause, with their on-going support of the (RED) HIV and aids charity. This enables them to sell products labelled ‘(PRODUCT)RED’ and in turn make significant donations to the charity every year.
But what about smaller businesses? Can they partner with charities in a way that’s beneficial for both parties?
Absolutely! And I was reminded of this a few weeks ago, when Bootcamp Media sponsored a brilliant networking lunch put on by GEM Media. The purpose of the day was to raise awareness of the amazing Buddy Bag Foundation, and it just so happened that it was a great opportunity to meet local businesses and gain some valuable contacts, too.
The focus, however, was undoubtedly the charity, and we jumped at the chance to support the event for that very reason. And this got me thinking about the benefits of charity partnerships; as it turns out, there are loads - and these are my favourites.
It could become a cornerstone of your branding
If we again use Apple as an example, a charity partnership can act as a brilliant branding tool. Their (PRODUCT)RED products are a distinctive and popular part of their line-up; they just so happen to be helping a wonderful cause, too.
A charity partnership could do the exact same thing for your business - even if it’s on a smaller scale. By teaming up with a not-for-profit, for example, you can demonstrate that you’re trustworthy and ethical. With social value such an important agenda for modern businesses, this remains one of the best ways to make your brand about far more than selling its wares.
It might increase press interest
Anyone who has tried to get a press release into trade magazines or websites will know what a struggle it is. We’re firmly in a pay-to-play market when it comes to traditional PR, and you can spend an awful lot of time and money attempting to promote your business for little gain.
Throw a charity partnership into the mix, however, and you might just find that more journalists come knocking without you having to do anything at all.
This is particularly the case if the partnership is an active one where you do more than simply place your logo on their paraphernalia. By getting involved in events and playing what is clearly a dedicated role in the relationship, you’ll be far more visible to the press. And that’s a very good thing indeed!
It will open up the talent market
The social impact of a business isn’t just a big thing for investors and customers - it matters for staff, too.
If you want to employ the best people or open up your business to a much wider pool of talent when recruiting for a position, a charity partnership you’re highly vocal about will likely catch the eye of some of the best talent.
There are plenty of brilliantly skilled workers out there who place the social impact of a business towards the top of their list, and a charity partnership could be the one thing that swings them your way over the competition.
The same is true for existing employees. If you’re a business owner or recruitment manager, you’ll know how costly it is when staff turnover levels rise, and why keeping a solid eye on staff retention is so important. A clear focus on a partnership that supports a worthy cause may just be one of the elements that ensures you don’t lose the best people you’ve spent years developing.
It’ll provide plenty of team building opportunities
The more you get involved with a charity and its fundraising endeavours, the more opportunities you’ll stumble upon for team building events.
Raising money as a team is one of the best ways to foster healthy competition, teamwork and friendships.
Lots of people understandably recoil at the mere suggestion of a ‘team working day’, but when the gathering is staged entirely for a charity which the business supports, you’re unlikely to receive quite so much kick-back. Indeed, you’ll probably find that staff are far more than willing to get involved.
Like so many other elements of charity partnerships, there just happens to be a rather nice consequence, which is some of the best team building you can lay your hands on!
It’s a bit like traditional networking - only better
If I think back to the GEM networking lunch for the Buddy Bag Foundation, it reminds me of perhaps the biggest benefit of engaging with a charity as a business: the networking opportunities.
I’m a massive fan of local networking events, but they often lack something, which, as I discovered last month, is an underlying effort to promote a good cause.
Charities present numerous networking opportunities for business people. Just getting to know the charity organisers themselves is a great idea, because they’re normally very well connected, and can often introduce you to other people.
Any charity event you attend will also be a great venue for business networking. And, as with any type of networking, that doesn’t mean selling your products and services - it’s about representing your company, talking to people, sharing your feelings on the charity in question and just being yourself. Commercial opportunities - if they’re present - will inevitably make themselves known further down the line.
When a business partners with a charity, there’s a two-way relationship that needs to be nurtured and set up to benefit both parties. If you’re the business in question, that means avoiding exploiting it (inadvertently or otherwise) for your own gain.
If you think you can help a charity and that you have a shared passion for a particular cause - go for it! Be generous and willing to make sacrifices, and you’ll invariably create a long-lasting partnership that works profitably for both organisations.