This blog is part 4 of a special 4-part series for Australia’s non-profit sector addressing the looming economic crisis, through the lens of the corporate sector, and the impact on corporate partnering.
This blog explains how to form partnerships with the corporate sector, because there WILL come a time when shaking hands is not only possible, but essential, and non-profits must be ready.
Blogs 1 and 2 discuss corporate behaviour during economic downturns and how non-profits can prepare. Blog 3 captures all the practical take-outs from 1 and 2. For parts 1-3 read here:
Timing is everything
You know the term ‘timing is everything’, because in so many aspects of business, and life, it’s so true. If this crisis has taught me anything it’s this: it’s not so much about timing being everything, but knowing when the time is right, and being prepared for it.
You can be certain that entrepreneurs and large companies have people working around the clock putting in measures for surviving the current crisis, as well as predicting and preparing for the opportunities that will eventuate. In the next six months, the corporate sector will be innovating and rebuilding and I’m sure a multitude of new ones will emerge to meet the needs of a new kind of consumer. I’m confident too, that the corporate sector will finally answer the Millennials’ call for them to step up, get engaged, and solve societal problems – many of which, especially mental health issues, homelessness and domestic violence – will be escalating.
The time of the conscious consumer
I’ve been tracking the conscious consumer movement for over 20 years, and now their time has come. Isolation has given people time to reflect, realise that they’re happier with less ‘stuff’ and more appreciative of nature. I predict that consumers will be more demanding than ever for companies and brands to do more than the basics, to embrace the opportunity to be a force for good. Conscious consumers will want to engage – and buy products and services from – companies that are demonstrating that ‘#We’reInThisTogether’, not just talking about it. They are going to want to hear inspiring, feel-good stories of how companies are rebuilding and fortifying Australia, not just their profit margins. Corporates will want to partner with progressive, adaptive and impactful non-profits to respond to this customer demand.
Companies will want a point of differentiation, and with tighter budgets, will look for innovative and cost-effective ways of resonating with their customer’s purpose-heightened values. Corporate Social Responsibility and Social Good will become a vital strategic imperative, not an optional luxury.
How is your non-profit gearing up to capitalise on this time of unprecedented change?
Will you be Ready?
There are two distinct levels to readiness – Organisational Readiness and Partner Readiness. Let’s look at each one:
1. Organisational Readiness
Over the last 2 decades we’ve worked with over 1,000 non-profits, and during this time we’ve been able to identify the key factors for success when an organisation prepares to partner with corporates and business. They include:
- Strong brand: a distinct & ratified brand architecture. This doesn’t mean you have to be a well-known brand, but an organised brand
- Resources: a dedicated person to pursue corporate partnerships (an employee, not a consultant) that is skilled in prospecting and presenting. It’s best that this person isn’t also managing lots of events and existing small partners (they get distracted)
- Compelling offer: having a robust offer and a clear intention of what kinds of partners you want
- Corporate landscape: an understanding of the corporate language, structure and different models of engagement
- Attitude: an attitude of abundance and can-do, takes a long-term view, is truly ready to partner (not just take the money)
- Appeal: an appealing cause that is prominent in the hearts and minds of consumers and works in harmony (if Federated)
- Timing: an understanding that there’s an optimum time to approach and that it takes 12 months to properly prepare and secure a partner
Many non-profits that we’ve seen fail in corporate partnerships and sponsorships, fail because of this last crucial aspect – Timing. You must be in front of corporate prospects when they are planning, not when your Board tells you to approach or after you’ve lost a sponsor. Once their budget has been locked down, there’s only crumbs left.
The right time
If I had a dollar for every non-profit that’s begged me to find them a partner at the wrong time of year… I’d be on my yacht right now. Instead, because I have integrity, I decline, because I know I’ll fail. I’m good, but I can’t change the way the corporate sector has operated for decades!
Are you Organisationally Ready? If you’re not sure, we’ve created a simple, free Readiness Q&A to help you identify whether your organisation is ready to commence a corporate partnerships strategy and become Partner ready for the right time, which is February next year.
We are also offering free calls during April, May and June so that we can discuss your result and guide you regarding any gaps and weaknesses. Pursuing corporate partnerships takes time, and time is just too precious to waste, even a second of it.
Once you’re Organisationally Ready, how do you then become Partner Ready? This is the next level of readiness.
2. Partner Ready
For over 20 years my team at Cavill + Co have been training and guiding non-profits and social enterprises through a readiness process called HeartSmart®, with outstanding success. During the past 9 months we’ve been refining and building it into an online training and implementation program to empower changemakers in Australia and New Zealand (and very soon, globally). It’s called BePartnerReady.com™.
We’ve mapped out all the steps that you need, and prepared easy to use templates to take away all the confusion and get you focused on what needs to be done. This program launched today (15 April), so check it out and if you want to grab our infographic detailing the 7 steps, you can download here for free (and when we say free, we mean free; we don’t even ask for your details).
The BePartnerReady.com™ program gets you ready by January 31, because when it comes to timing, February-March is the optimum time to pitch to corporates in Australia.
In this challenging time, it takes a great deal of mental fortitude to be optimistic about the future, especially given we’ve never really encountered anything like this before.
One thing we do know, is that companies who survive this will need cause partnerships more than ever – to satisfy the consumer appetite for demonstrable evidence of social responsibility, of proof that they care about people and the planet as much as profits, and for stories that lift us up in a time of great adversity.
Stay safe everyone,
If you’d like to know more about dancing with corporates, read Hailey’s article in F&P magazine May/June 2020 issue here
If you would like to learn more about how to be ready for corporate partnerships, register for Hailey’s webinar for the Fundraising Institute of Australia (FIA) on 8 May. She will be discussing the benefits of a corporate partnership, organisational and partner readiness and most importantly, answering any burning questions you have.