7 keys to working well with charities

There’s no doubt that working with charities as part of your CSR can be very positive for your business. It can impact your staff with positive team building activities and shared experiences, your patients with a positive view of your brand, and a you with a sense of satisfaction knowing that you are raising money for a good cause.

I’ve seen a great deal of work between business and charity in the past 23 years – some of it really good. But a lot more I’ve seen has failed to create the impact that was possible. From my experience, there a 7 key factors that are important when working with good causes:

  1. Select a cause that makes sense
    Evidence shows that your team and your patients will be more engaged with your CSR if you choose a charity that makes sense, either because of your geographical proximity to the charity or its connection to the industry you are in. You may have a unrelated cause that you are personally connected with that you’re passionate about, but unless you’re able to communicate very clearly why that cause has an authentic link, you may be better choosing a charity that makes more obvious sense.
  2. Be clear with the charity about what you want to do for them
    It’s always a good idea to make the charity aware of what you plan to do, and to be clear about your target or planned activity. Most charities will want to help you maximise the success of the fundraising and can also help with ideas and support.
  3. Be realistic about what you expect to achieve
    Of course charities are grateful for any funds they receive, but you need to be realistic about what it is fair to expect from your chosen charity. They have limited and over-stretched resources, so unless you are expecting to raise a significant sum, try and be realistic about the time and support you expect from the charity.
  4. Follow through on your commitments
    It’s better to under-promise and over-deliver. Promising a high donation and failing to achieve it is demoralising for the charity and your team. By all means aim high, but don’t over promise. And make sure you are committed to running the event and you follow through. Use the charity’s fundraising expertise to advise you on how to raise the most money. Use the opportunity to educate your patients and local community about the issues the charity tackles and raise their profile.
  5. Extract value from the charity relationship
    By all means promote what you do to the outside world. The more successful you are as a business, the more potential you have to create benefit for charities and good causes. So communicate what you’re doing externally and internally.
  6. Partner strategically
    If you can, commit to working with a charity for a period of time. Build a relationship. Look to include your charity activity as part of your business plan – the impact for your business and the charity is biggest when it isn’t a one off event, but something that is incorporated in the life of the business. If  what you’re planning is going to a have a significant impact for the charity, pull them in on your planning. If not, plan it and tell them what you’re doing so they can find ways to help you succeed. They may be able to provide tried and tested ways to engage your team and patients.
  7. Look for other ways to add value
    There are many ways to benefit the charity other than funds. Look for other ways to give back, like donating your time or expertise, like BACD’s excellent whitening drive, where they used donated product and gave their time to carry out whitening treatments. The fee paid by the patient went to charity. You can also help by giving the charity profile through your communications and press releases – anything that drives traffic to their websites is useful. Or introduce the charity to your network to widen their support base. There are many ways to add value beyond money.

Working with charities can give fantastic focus for your team, boost your profile, and raise money for good causes. Include these 7 keys in your planning, and you’ll maximise the impact for your business, and the charity you care about.

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