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How do you align your charity with a corporate supporter? What part does CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) play when partnering with a business?
CSR is known by many names, such as Social Responsibility (SR), Creating Shared Value (CSV) or Corporate Accountability (CA) and looks to change business operations in a way that maximizes a company's benefits to society and minimizes the risks and costs to the community-all while keeping the company focused on creating business and brand value.
It shows that whilst a business will deliver a strong and ethical model, the culture goes above and beyond business delivery alone as it cares about every part of influence through a holistic approach.
A business that understands why it should be responsible and sustainable seeks to work with charities that offer it a natural alignment to achieve its objectives. So a good starting point for attracting corporate support is to understand what a business is trying to achieve and what form of CSR it is developing.
For example, Hinckley & Rugby Building Society is partnering with homelessness charity Emmaus Leicestershire & Rutland by donating £250 for every Charity Assist Mortgage its customers buy. This will form part of a CSR programme for the business that benefits the charity and wider society, whilst also positioning the Society as a caring company that is putting something back into its local community. (Source: Fundraising Magazine [Dec 2019])
Why is CSR important to your charity?
Put simply, CSR benefits both the business and charitable organisation. The relationship also rewards stakeholders and the wider community. Both organisations benefit from increased PR and brand recognition. By developing a good reputation for sustainability and #makingadifference CSR promotes a relationship with stakeholders that encourages loyalty, trust and respect.
"88% of consumers said they were more likely to buy from a company that supports and engages in activities to improve society." (CSR-Accreditation 2019)
We all like to work with purpose-led responsible organisations, delivering an ethical, value driven culture within an organisation that delivers benefits through reputation, loyalty, team spirit and commitment.
From a business point of view, CSR is therefore an opportunity for charities to help companies achieve their community goals, while deriving benefits from the relationship.
How does CSR encourage Corporate Support?
Working with a business that wants to deliver sustainable, ethical and responsible outcomes aligns with charitable values. It's the job of charities to deliver public benefit and aligning with businesses that want to deliver similar and sustainable values helps them to achieve this.
Understanding the CSR approach of a business therefore enables a charity to align its cause and value set to achieve agreed objectives with positive outcomes.
For example, British Airways has partnered with the Red Cross to support communities in the UK affected by emergencies such as extreme weather or house fires. By supporting crisis response work, British Airways will be helping the British Red Cross keep local communities feeling safe and supported, no matter the crisis. They say that "Working together, we will connect human kindness with human crisis."
Corporate Partnerships take many forms
When a successful corporate partnership is agreed, it can lead to many different forms of support, including:
The exact nature of the relationship and the benefits to the charity will vary from one partnership to another and are things to be negotiated with the company at the start of the relationship (although of course additional means of support may subsequently develop over time).
Do your Homework first
Achieving successful corporate partnerships begins by researching potential partners and identifying what they are trying to achieve via their CSR policy and activities. This can often be done by reading their websites and annual reports, looking at what past partnerships have involved and in speaking directly to company representatives. Only then can a charity understand fully what a company is seeking to achieve and position itself as the ideal CSR partner.
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