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Emerging partnership models between business and the third sector

Emerging partnership models between business and the third sector

Background

The way business engages with charities through community investment or corporate responsibility (CR) programmes has changed dramatically over the last 20 years. There has been a shift away from a pure focus on cash donations towards the provision of resources, assets and business expertise. Powerful, mutually beneficial partnerships are emerging that bring enhanced benefits for business, charities and wider society.

Progressive businesses now want more than simply to be seen as “doing their bit”. They want to demonstrate how their core products and services in themselves have the power to make a positive impact in society. Bringing expertise, resources and insight unique to the capabilities of the business and the strategic needs of the charity, through partnership, can have a far more dramatic impact than financial support. That is also where the real business benefit from community investment lies.

Key findings

The challenge to business is to reposition how it works to develop deeper, more sustainable and more impactful relationships with the charity sector. Too many businesses say they do this when really they are scratching the surface and not realising the full potential. Successful and significant partnerships should be regarded as a strategic issue and a key component in the development of the organisations’ values and brand, of its talent strategy and ultimately its commercial strategy.

The challenge to charities is to think more broadly and more strategically. Take the time to understand a business partner, what their natural strengths and strategic needs are and use this to build a partnership that takes full advantage of what that business has to offer. Fundraising is part of this story – but the development of talent, effective marketing, technology, improvements in systems, organisational change, brand alignment and profile, relationship building – there are many things a business can offer.

Our report recommends a step by step approach that charities and business can take in order to develop more effective, sustainable partnerships.

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