10 tips for charities from The Guardian's Expert Q&A Debate

The growing public awareness of social responsibility combined with a harsh environment for corporates, means there are huge opportunities for charities to work with companies. The best partnerships are not just about donations, but a sharing of knowledge, expertise, resources and inspiration. But as a charity, how do you secure and maintain your ideal corporate partnership?

Last week the Guardian Voluntary Sector held a two-hour online Q&A on charities finding the right corporate partner, with a panel of experts from major organisations from Macmillan, Save the Children and Cancer Research UK to Lloyds Bank.  We thought we’d distill their wisdom into ten take-away tips:

1.Assess & target – A scattergun approach may hit the right heartstring or requirement on the 99th attempt, but ensuring that charities target a supporter that clearly matches their values, focus and story can save  a lot of time and resources.

2.Think big –  A charity doesn’t have to be a major player to land a great corporate partner, they just have to have the right values and alignment, so aim high.

3.Its not all money – Understandably a charity needs financial support, but there is also a wealth of knowledge, experience and, of course product, that can be donated. Consider what assistance a business could offer outside of hard cash if the brands match.

4.Be long-sighted – Charities that consider partnerships in the longer term, i.e. one to three years, can bring a lot more to the table and help everyone reach their objectives better, whilst creating a great relationship and strong awareness of the alliance and the cause.

5.Know when to walk away – Whilst some negotiations and approaches can take months to agree, it’s important also for both parties to realise when something isn’t going to work, avoiding entering into a potentially weak relationship for the sake of ease.

6.Set clear expectations – Charity partnerships that clearly set out what each party expects will ensure that relationships and results don’t turn sour before they even get going. It saves either party being unduly disappointed if goals are misunderstood or loosely agreed.

7.Get to know them – Great relationships are built on trust and understanding. Get to know your potential partners, spend time with them, understand if their behaviour matches their promoted values and you’ll be much more inclined to make something work.

8.Share content alike – One example in the Q&A touched on a baby safety charity sharing content with its cot manufacturer partner, which offered customers exclusive researched advice on keeping their child safe. Leverage your assets and see what can be shared to make the relationship even more fulfilling for everyone.

9.Get your hands dirty – Encouraging senior managers and management staff from partners to spend time volunteering in the charity is not only a great way to get closer, but also helps a partner enhance their corporate social responsibility agenda and is very PR-able.

10.Keep on top – Once everything is up-and-running, arrange regular meetings and reviews, even if it’s just to make adjustments or better yet, pat each other in the back. If things are left to their own devices, the chances are the relationship and results will suffer.

The useful advice shared by the panel shows that with careful planning and work at building a relationship, there is great support is out there for charities to get the awareness and resources they need to fulfill their goals. You can read through the full panel Q&A on The Guardian website. 

Alternatively, you can also go to the Best Bits summary of the Q&A that appeared on The Guardian’s website, with individual comments from the panel experts. This piece was written by inhouse partnership manage, Alex, who also writes for Partnership Marketing UK.

At, we take our responsibilities to the local and wider community seriously. As well as giving registered charities a lifetime 15% discount, we aim to leave as light a trace as possible on the environment, recycling 98% of production site waste. We also run a job creation scheme, taking on apprentices and students and equipping them with the skills they need in the workplace. 


Alexandra Bertram
11 Oct 2012 14:10
Some really great points here and I will certainly be recommending to my client who is a registered charity!
Ashraf Patel
13 Oct 2012 05:35
We are a registered charity! how can we get the 15% discount?
Ashleigh-Jayne O'Connell
15 Oct 2012 12:40
Hey Ashraf, just follow this link to get started.
25 Nov 2015 11:08
Interesting blog, thanks :)
29 Nov 2016 16:14
very well made points

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