Ed Sharman explains the value of charity partnerships in building CSR strategies

 

‘Purpose’ is a term bandied around a lot these days, especially as Millennials’ spending power grows and is more likely to head towards brands that offer more than just a product. Indeed, many start-ups are ahead of their more established competitors, putting Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) at the heart of the business right from the get-go such as coffee brand, Change Please, which trains homeless people to be baristas.

 

One of the core elements of a CSR strategy is often philanthropy, but for an organisation to create its own philanthropic initiative from scratch is a big ask – which is where charities like us at Help for Heroes can help.

 

We offer commercial organisations the chance to work with us and have a number of brand partners – from huge companies like Debenhams through to rapidly expanding butcher brand, Alf Turner. For the charity partner it spreads the word about our cause and boosts our fundraising through the amazing charitable initiatives that our partners do on our behalf. For the commercial partner, partnering with a charity can be a relatively easy and highly successful way of expanding a company’s CSR strategy and giving it scale.

 

However, there is more to charity partnerships than creating an increased inclination for customers to buy from a brand that ‘does good’.

 

Brand awareness and affinity

 

Through positive association with a well-known charity brand, commercial companies boost their own brand awareness. On an ongoing basis it gives them great stories to tell their customers and prospects about their fundraising and they benefit from the charity’s own communications to amplify their charitable activities, enabling them to reach new audiences. It also provides a powerful affinity factor with the charity’s good work ‘rubbing off’ on its partners.

 

Staff engagement

 

Charity partnerships are not just about customers though. They can also have a hugely positive effect on a partner’s staff engagement, giving employees the opportunity to get really involved in something that makes them feel good. Workforces get behind creating interesting and varied fundraising activities that can add excitement to every-day life and they get the chance to work with staff members that perhaps they wouldn’t usually meet; plus they can learn new skills that would not normally come into their remit.

 

Partnerships in action

 

A good example of the symbiotic relationship created by a charity partnership can be seen with clothing brand, Cotton Traders, who have worked with us since 2011. In that time they have raised an incredible £1.14 million and the partnership has become multi-faceted with support throughout the whole business – including senior team members who have taken a keen interest and often participate in fundraising challenges such as the 24 hour Three Peaks Trek. Staff across the board roll their sleeves up and get involved with initiatives like an annual golf day, retail fashion shows, raffles, cakes sales, care washes, bike rides and more.

 

In addition, Cotton Traders sell co-branded Help for Heroes clothing and accessories and donate 10% of the sale price to us, encourage customers to add a £1 donation to online orders and donate the proceeds of carrier bag sales to us. The Help for Heroes range has quickly become a best-seller for their customers, so boosting their own sales at the same time as raising money for us.

 

The need for synergy

 

There is, though, one word of caution. One of the reasons why this partnership works so well is because of the shared brand values that we have, with both organisations having such strong links to the military and rugby. This means that our cause resonates strongly with Cotton Traders’ customers and staff alike. So, for any brand considering embarking on a charity partnership, do ensure that the cause is a good fit to your own values and area of work.

 

Do your research, get it right and a charity partnership can create a positive, effective and fun way to boost business and feel great about work. What’s not to love?

 

By Ed Sharman, Corporate Partnerships Senior Manager at Help for Heroes



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