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Choosing a Charity Partnership: 6 Steps to Philanthropic Success

This month, we’ve been focussing on charitable giving and charity partnerships between business and non-profit, charitable organisations.


We talked a few weeks ago about all the benefits that charitable giving can have for your business, beyond the tax breaks that everyone else talks about.

Now that you know all about the benefits, we thought we’d take a look at what you should look for in a potential charity partner, and the 6 important steps you should take in your decision-making when entering into a professional partnership.

Step 1: Choose a Cause You Believe In

It may seem tempting to choose the current cause célèbre as your chosen charity, or to seek out big names with lots of public recognition. However, the most important thing you ought to look for, in the first instance, is a cause that means something to you. Our directors, Hannah and Lauren, ran a half-marathon in September to raise money for Alzheimer’s Scotland, which is a cause close to both of them.

Choosing a charitable cause that you believe in will result in increased motivation, inspiration and connection when it comes to fundraising and donating. Not just for you, but  for your employees, local community and stakeholders too.

Step 2: Choose a Charity That Makes Sense for Your Business

Now that you have a cause in mind, it’s time to look for a charity that fits your brand. What you’re looking for is an alignment of corporate vision, mission and goals.

A partnership in which two entities pull in different directions, or seek to achieve mutually exclusive goals, is no partnership at all. Make sure that everyone is on the same page about what you want to achieve and how you want to achieve it.

Step 3: Do Your Research

We’ll keep this one nice and short: Do your research. Make sure you know where your money/effort is going. The last thing you need is to have your brand caught up in any kind of scandal.

You can find plenty of background information online about what charities are doing and who’s making the decisions.

Step 4: Decide How to Support Your Charity Partner

As we discussed in last week’s article, the days of big cheques are over. Businesses donate skills/expertise, sponsorship, premises, employee volunteers, equipment, services, among other things.

Throwing money at the problem isn’t going to help in the long run. It’s time to decide what kind of support you can offer and how you’re going to implement it.

The best partnerships will probably involve some fundraising, along with other types of support. Remember, you’re building a relationship. You wouldn’t think much of a friendship if you only had one type of interaction over and over again. The same rule applies here.

Step 5: Make a Business Plan

This might come as a surprise. Though partnering with a charity is altruistic in nature, it is still a business relationship. The most successful partnerships involve clarity in terms of goals, performance data, impact, and outcomes.

The aim is to achieve mutual growth. To this end, it makes perfect sense to lay out what the partnership will entail, what objectives exist on either side, and how both organisations will work to realise them.

This has the added bonus of drastically reducing the risk of miscommunication or bad feelings in the future, or either party feeling let down by other. If both sides are clear from the beginning, and keep pace with their promises, then – with luck – success is the only possible outcome.

Step 6: Start Making a Difference

What are you waiting for?