Claire Morgans, CEO of Ykids, gives her top tips for business on how to find the perfect charity partner.
We are blessed in Merseyside with a history of philanthropy resulting in many amazing libraries, parks, theatres and hospitals due to the generosity of local business people.
Today, whilst the generosity is still there and the need continues, the landscape is changing and finding the right charity partner can be a minefield to negotiate. Partnering with a local charity can have positive benefits for business, from staff buy in, to demonstrating to your customers that you are investing back in their community. There are also huge benefits for a smaller local charity as 97% of all funding raised in the UK goes to the top 3% of charities, i.e. large national charities.
But all charities are different, so how do you build a partnership that it is mutually beneficial?
As the CEO of Ykids, a charity working with children and young people for over 20 years, we have really welcomed the support of local business to help us bring about change in our communities. So from the perspective of a small charity CEO, here are my tops tips to find a successful charity partner.
What are you looking for in a charity partnership?
Its best to think this through beforehand. Charities have an endless wish list but what are you willing to give? Time, money, skills? Is what you are offering useful to the charity? As a qualified accountant offering a day, you may be asked to paint a wall, whereas offering your skills to complete their end of year accounts and you may have your hand bitten off. Respect the charity’s time and expertise too. If they are working with vulnerable children, don’t expect to be able to rock up at a youth group without first being DBS checked and going through an induction or training.
Do your research. Check out the charity’s website, their accounts and their Charity Commission pages. Do a quick google or social media search. What do other businesses who have worked with them say?
Invest in a visit
You know when you are conducting interviews, and someone walks into the room and within 10 seconds you know they are the wrong person? Visiting a charity is just the same.
You will know if this is the wrong match within minutes of your arrival. Are these the sort of people you want to work with? Can you see evidence of difference being made? Do your values align? Ask searching questions.
Don’t expect too much from the charity. Be upfront about what you could offer and what you would like back, and there should be a proportionate response on both sides. A business once offered us £40 to buy a prize on the condition that we gave them direct marketing access to the 200 families we were working with. We said no, because our families would not benefit. Equally, the charity partner should not be disingenuous. Find one that says thank you properly.
If you have done your due diligence, trust your charity partner. If you are donating money, let them use their expertise to spend it where it is needed. Food for the foodbank is great but a cash donation to pay the electric bill will mean the lights stay on and the project can continue. Both are needed. Ask the charity for a wish list but only offer what you feel you are able to provide.
Building a charity partnership is a process and every one unique, but done well can bring huge long term benefits to your business and effect real transformation in the communities we serve.
Claire is CEO of Ykids a charity working to bring hope vulnerable children, young people and families in Bootle and Merseyside. www.ykids.co.uk
Ykids is also delivers Kingsley and Co – a Victorian Explorer Steampunk themed children’s bookshop and literacy project in the Strand shopping centre , The Bootle Children’s Literacy Festival and the annual Believe Awards – celebrating Merseyside’s unsung young heroes.