Janek Seevaratnam

Former Senior Corporate Advisor

Charities Aid Foundation

How to write a corporate partnership pitch

Congratulations, you’ve been invited to pitch for a corporate partnership!

You may have pitched before, and after several (onerous) applications, you have a good sense of what a company wants to hear. But the landscape is constantly shifting. Smaller, less established organisations entering the fray are crowding the field. Meanwhile, charity juggernauts continue to raise the bar with well-versed and financed corporate fundraising units.

From working with businesses on their charitable programmes, we understand what goes into creating transformative and mutually-beneficial corporate charity partnerships.

Whether you’re a seasoned veteran of corporate fundraising or want to help your charity climb a few rungs on the ladder, here are some key things to consider when pitching for a corporate partnership.

Capture hearts

Time is short and competition is fierce, so leave a lasting mark by creating an emotional connection.

To do this, it’s important you show your charity’s human side. Demonstrate clearly what you do and how your services make a tangible difference to people’s lives and society.

While this is the bread and butter of fundraising, it is all too easy to lose sight of this.

Don’t go overboard – keep the beneficiaries themselves away from pitches. Instead use case studies to illustrate the impact and long-term outcomes of your programmes. Keep a clear focus on the social need your programmes meet. Think about what actually motivates you to work for the charity.

Teenage Cancer Trust demonstrate why they need support brilliantly.

Capture minds

Data from Lloyds Banking Group on corporate giving showed that over 70% of companies gave strategically, whereas less than 20% went in ad-hoc donations. So your charity needs to make a strong business case which aligns with the company’s purpose and strategy.

Understanding who’s on the panel will help you tailor your pitch to appeal to their roles. Pay close attention to their latest annual and corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports which will give you a good idea where there may be natural synergies between your charity and the company. It may be that your expertise can add value to the company’s strategic pillars.

Use some of the language featured in the company’s own strategy, this well help show how you support each other’s missions and objectives.

The Children’s Society for example, developed a bespoke training programme for the Northern Gas Networks to help gas engineers identify signs of abuse or neglect when they visit homes.

Age UK’s ‘The Big Knit’, on the other hand, was an innovative commercial partnership with Innocent, raising over £2 million for good causes.

CAF’s 2018 FTSE Giving report emphasises the opportunities for charities to engage with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs are a crucial target for charities to accurately state how a partnership can support a company work towards specific goals.

Offer the obvious stuff 

So the hearts and minds have now been captured. But depending on CSR resources committed to the partnership, companies will be looking for the obvious: what practical things can you can offer as a charity?

This may include employee engagement, fundraising ideas and volunteering opportunities, as well as an account manager, challenge events and a plan of action.

Outline a plan to show how you’ll engage with employees at key sites in the early months. After all, a company may offer matched funding but remember: it’s the employees that usually raising most of the funds.

Real motivation comes from two sources: feelings and things.

The best feeling to leave with employees is a challenge to make a difference. Whatever the fundraising target set by companies, aim to beat it.

The best thing you can show employees is impact. If an employee wants to support you with payroll giving, what will their fiver a month go towards? Even if the money does go into a general pot, an illustrative breakdown on how money would be spent, if ring-fenced, goes a long way. It could mean piloting a new project, supporting research or additional staff.

Be bold 

Recently there have been calls for the restructuring of traditional corporate charity partnerships to make them more impactful. And research has foundalmost half of companies plan to increase spending on sustainability. So be courageous and try new ways of engaging with corporates.

Consider coalitions

While environmental organisations lend themselves more towards volunteering opportunities, CAF research shows children, animal and health charities are typically the most popular causes. Being open to making joint bids could be complementary in a number of ways, creating innovative partnerships and better balancing the fundraising with volunteering opportunities that companies want.

Use your network

A charity’s best asset is its supporters, so tap into your network and help them canvas for you in their own workplaces to have your charity considered for partnerships.

Finally, always seek detailed feedback from the corporate you’ve pitched to – it’s the very least you deserve. Don’t forget to share your experience of your own journey as well. Companies value feedback and want to improve the process.