Chris Riches:
Hi and welcome to the ACNC’s March webinar which will be looking at charities and corporate partnerships. My name is Chris Riches and I'm from the ACNC’s education team and today we have a very special guest with us, Corporate Partnerships Consultant Linda Garnett, hi Linda.

Linda Garnett:

Hi Chris, it's great to be here and I'm told that today is the International Day of Happiness, so I hope all of you out there are having a great day too.

Chris:

Happiness, yes, smiles everywhere. Thanks for coming along too Linda. To everyone out there, you may recognise Linda from our charity chat podcast on the corporate partnerships topic that we did a little while back, it was last year.

Linda:

Oh I think so, doesn't time fly?

Chris:

Yeah it does. So this is a great opportunity for us to catch up again and explore the topic in some further detail. Before we launch into the webinar proper, we're just going to get through our usual preliminaries, so we'll whip through these relatively quickly. If you've got any troubles with the audio for the webinar you can try listening through your phone. You can call the number listed in the email you will have received when you signed up and you will be asked to put in an access code and away you go. You can also ask a question at any time during through the webinar by using the tools in the go-to webinar panel on your screen. We've got colleagues Matt and Bree ready to respond to any of the questions you might have.

Now we'll try and answer all the questions that come through during the webinar, but depending on how we go and how time goes, we may not be able to get to everyone. So if your question isn't answered or you've got a further question you want to ask, feel free to send us an email via education@acnc.gov.au and we will respond there. We will endeavour to allow for some Q and A time at the end of the presentation, so if you wanted to watch the presentation and then save your question until the end, that's fine as well.

As always, we're recording the webinar and the recording as well as the transcript and the presentation slides, they will be published on the ACNC website in the coming days. Any websites or links that are mentioned in the webinar, you don't have to scramble and madly scribble stuff down, we'll be sending out a follow out email in the next day or two with that information for you. And lastly, we value your feedback so if there's any suggestions you have for how we can improve our webinars, let us know in the short survey at the end of today’s session or send us an email to the previously mentioned email address with your comments. So there we go.

This is what we're going to cover today. Generally speaking what we're going to do is we're going to try and maybe track a bit of an engagement cycle when it comes to corporate partnerships. So we're going to start with a look at the definition of what a corporate partnership is, then we'll discuss some of the starting points for charities wishing to embark on a partnership journey. We'll look at choosing and approaching a suitable partner, how charities can maintain and build on a partnership, and also how the end game for a partnership can play out, how things get would up, exit points and that sort of stuff. Along the way we'll share some partnership stories and advice. Linda in particular can draw on some great experiences there, and we'll answer some questions with any luck and explore some aspects of the topic.

So we'll start at the start, what's a corporate partnership? Basic definition is pretty plan. A corporate partnership in this context is an arrangement between a charity and a business or a corporate, but really we should be looking at a few more detailed aspects of the arrangement when defining a partnership, and key amongst them is I guess this idea of a three layered benefit isn't it Linda?

Linda:

Lots of different ways of looking at the benefits, but probably three main perspectives Chris, one of which is what the charity needs and wants and where a corporate partner can actually fit. The second, and most importantly, is what does the corporate actually want in return, because especially with the listed corporates, they're tasked with some returning some value to shareholders. So they have to make some choices between do they invest in your charity or your particular community program, or do they do something else with shareholder’s money? So there is some quid pro quo.

But the thing that binds it altogether is the bigger social impact you can achieve together, and often what we've seen with businesses of all sizes at the moment is they're really increasingly focused on that bigger social impact. So not just can I fund your program or can I sponsor your event, but what can we actually do together? So it's a nice kind of triangle of how it – you should think about it in terms of a benefit to the charity, to the corporate, and the community at large, because they're all equally important.

Chris:

Yeah and that's sort of I guess a sign of a well functioning or a high functioning partnership in a way, the idea of benefit to corporate, benefit to organisations for charity, that sort of stuff, but benefit to that wider community as well isn't it?

Linda:

Absolutely, and it's – I always think about it as when you turn up to a first date, you don't ask Chris whether you've got – how much you earn and where you work and can I borrow your car, you actually think about what can you offer to them and what can you actually achieve together.

Chris:

Yep, all right. As we say here, now corporate partnership, it's more than just a basic device to attract money from a corporate. A key consideration should be towards the long term value a partnership has for you and for any respective partner. Now we mentioned here the term ‘long term value’. How important is it for, we'll say a charity, to have at least something that's verging towards medium term to long term when it comes to their outlook?

Linda:

Well if think about businesses, and whether it's large or small businesses, they have a longer term view of where they're going. So it would be great if the charity can actually describe what is that long term value of that relationship? And also, things don't happen overnight. So if you're running a community program or let's say you're working with disadvantaged young people and helping them transition to work, it's not going to happen overnight. So it's good to manage the expectations and bring them along, bring the partner along the whole journey. And I often talk about this as a relationship rather than a one night stand, so you're really building for that longer term, longer marriage, and if you do so, then the potential for a transformational impact is so much bigger, not just for the corporate but also for the charity itself.

We saw a great example of this when there was one of the breast cancer charities working with a large retailer, and it started off really small. They started off simply by offering them some office space, and then the relationship grew, they got to know each other, they started to do things together. And then 10 years later it's worth about $15M and they've done everything from sales of products, Coles related marketing, some joint policy and advocacy, and the business has one of the key people on the charity’s board. So that's the value of a long term investment in the transformation, and also it's going to be a bit of work to actually get the partnership on board so it's going to take a few months. So it's not something you can turn around overnight. So have that long term three to five year view of the value you can have.

Chris:

And I think you mentioned very aptly there the idea of investment, or that term ‘investment.’ This isn't just a throw some money at something just to come together randomly and have a bit of a chat over a cup of tea. It is an investment, an investment of resources, of time, and that sort of stuff too, and that's how it should be looked at shouldn’t it?

Linda:

That's right and it doesn’t mean it's onerous and it doesn't mean that's only for the larger charities with lots and lots of resources. It's really an investment in the relationship to get to know each other, what's important to both parties and what's going to make that sort of transformational piece for the community at large.

Chris:

Yep all right. Quick little diversion off a slight side street, some statistics there up on the screen. Now these probably point to the fact that corporates involvement in partnerships continues to grow. The Giving Australia report for 2016 found that the percentage of corporates involved in partnerships with not for profits had grown quite significantly from 17% in 2005 to 44% in 2016. The report also found that large corporates were more likely to be involved in partnerships, which probably isn't surprising, but there was evidence that small to medium sized enterprises were becoming increasingly involved. How does that mesh with your experience Linda, does that sort of ring true?

Linda:

Yeah that's absolutely correct. And if you go back to that same Giving Australia report, you'll notice the amount of corporate giving was about $9B from the larger corporates, then you look at the other side of the equation and the amount of giving from SMEs was $8B, so it almost rivals its bigger cousins. So that's a massive amount of opportunity there that's probably going begging. And I know that a lot of charities when they think about corporate partners, think about the top 200 listed companies. Now you don't all want to be fishing in the same small pond, it's pretty competitive with those, when you're actually missing all the rest of the pyramid, not just the top of the pyramid.

I find that SMEs are very strongly philanthropic, but they're often owner managed so they don't have a big CSR department like your big banks or your big miners and so forth. That means there are less layers of decision making for you, which is a huge advantage so you can actually get straight to the person who has control of the budget and the decisions a lot quicker. And in some instance, we – I'll give you an example of a Queensland based charity that was really struggling because it was focusing on the biggest, largest listed corporates. And we talked to them about the SME opportunity and kind of a light bulb went off, and they went pursuing SMEs that were based specifically around in the Queensland area.

I saw them at a conference a couple of weeks ago and they came bowling up to me and said, “Guess what, we've now got 10 of the largest SMEs in Queensland and they're so much more generous and it took a lot less time and we're really, really happy with it because we're just getting much better results.” So that really worked for them because they were only focused in one state and they were struggling with sort of the big multinationals, they weren’t really making much cut through.

Chris:

That sort of small to medium enterprise too, there's I guess a greater opportunity or a greater likelihood that they are going to be more locally or regionally focused than a larger, well say multinational or even just national, if you are a charity sort of specifically working in a particular say geographic area approaching a small to medium enterprise that is working in your area is more likely to make a bit of sense isn't it?

Linda:

And you find that SMEs are very focused on their local community and very in tune with it, so they can often bring insights and skills and networks that you don't have. So it's not just about funding and fundraising, and I know we'll talk about that a bit further, but there are other opportunities with that. So of that $8B, there's a large slice of the pie that I'd love everyone to think about because they might be missing out on it.

Chris:

Yeah, now we pre-empted that one a bit. We've got some partnership models here just for a little bit of reference, and this is a very I guess quick run through and we can go through it in a little bit more detail. These are basic examples, obviously things like volunteering and staff engagement from a corporate standpoint. In kind support through goods or services, resources, pro bono support is another relatively common model or way of involvement, sponsorships as well.

A couple of other ones, use of premises or sharing of premises, infrastructure and place based solutions, and opportunities presented by things like mentoring and training and I guess skills based type of stuff. Particularly those last two bullet points, they're maybe not ones that spring to mind straightaway for a charity when it comes to partnerships are they, but they're ones that are well worth looking at, well worth considering?

Linda:

I think that's right Chris. And often when people mention partnerships they use that almost alternatively with sponsorships and think that they're the same thing. So sponsorships are only one slice of the pie, it's not the whole pie, and if you're set up to have a very specific almost commercial vehicle like a large event, like some of the football clubs and so forth are, or it's more of a commercial arrangement, then absolutely, a sponsorship works for you. But in a lot of cases with the charities in a community, the organisations we talk to, they're really selling intangibles. They're only selling intangibles so it's a lot harder to do that.

So what I encourage people to do is think about all the other things a business can do for you in a partnership. It's not just about funding and fundraising, it’s not just sponsorships, or that could be part of the mix. Infrastructure, training and skills are really vital access to skills that a corporate have that you couldn't access or it will probably cost you far too much to access yourself.

Chris:

Absolutely, the cost becomes an issue then, yes.

Linda:

So I'm thinking of a charity that has a helpline for children at risk and they built their business on the back of a partnership with a telecommunications company. They helped them build their platform, they brought all of their digital expertise, lent them their skills, lent them some of their staff to ongoing mentor and train them and they continually upgrade the platform, and they couldn't actually run it without the support of the partner in that case. So that really anchored their business and that was very much skills and their platform, not so much their products but their expertise which is really important.

Also when we mentioned the SMEs beforehand, that place based approach is really helpful for some community organisations. So we worked with a series of organisations out in the far south eastern suburbs of Melbourne who have a very big growth corridor, lots of young families who are quite isolated, and a risk of children being disadvantaged, and they wanted to make the place a more child friendly and child accessible place. So how did that do that? They worked with some of the local businesses to be able to transform their high street businesses, with the cafes, the libraries, the retailers et cetera, to make them more family friendly, make them more accessible, and be another way of families accessing information and support. Now that's another way of actually using the power of the whole community in partnership to achieve what you wanted for the community.

Chris:

Now getting started. So we'll get to the, I guess, the nitty-gritty of I guess we call it partnership engagement. The first thing we'll cover here is obviously getting started, how to get things rolling. Really though some of the work, some of the basic work, is often done before you hit the big green play button which you can see up there on the screen. You, as a charity, you have to lay some foundations, some good foundations, you have to be able to consider your charity’s situation as well and know where you're at. And as we say here, we've got in considering your situation, have an idea, have some familiarity about the aims and direction of your charity, of your organisation.

Have a bit of an idea and do a bit of self-examination about what you've got, what you can offer, how you might be unique, how you might be different, how you can distinguish yourself from other charities, other organisations. And also it's well worth having a bit of a think at this stage, even early on, about your limits and perhaps your no-go zones. We'll mention no-go zones again a little bit later. But these sorts of things at the start are very important to get straight aren't they Linda?

Linda:

The foundations are so important Chris, I can't emphasise this enough, because I get lots of questions from people saying, “Where do I start? Is it too hard? Should I just start making some calls?” and that's a recipe for not a great deal of success to be honest and a lot of frustration. So the first port of call really is to start within your own organisation, really getting to understand the why, like what – why do you need a corporate partner, what do you really want them to do? Where are the gaps you need them to fill or the vision that you actually have that can't be fulfilled without some help? So really understanding your strategy and your priorities and where you're going, because if you can't tell the story of where am I going in the next five years, why would someone else come along the journey with you?

Chris:

Absolutely right.

Linda:

You're just like a tourist without a map. So understand yourself and where you're going is really, really important, and your strengths and what makes you different because 54,000 plus registered charities, there's a fair bit of competition out there. So how can you tell your story about why you're different or why you're special? It may not be unique but there may be an aspect that makes you particularly strong in some areas, it distinguishes you from the rest of the pack. So that's an internal piece about getting to know yourself and your offering that will really be the anchor point, because you're really looking for strategical line between your charity and a particular business.

So you're going to get to know your prospective partner’s business and you're going to ask them lots of questions about it and try and figure out how you can solve their problems as well, but you need to know yourself really well. And we touched on no-go zones, sometimes that's really important to do right upfront so you don't do that as a conversation in front of your prospective partner. So you don't want to be arguing at the board table whether you will or won't support an initiative that involves bottled water or gambling or alcohol, when you haven't figured out whether that's within your limits of tolerance or whether it fits with your values or your mission as an organisation.

So you could let a great opportunity go begging if you can't actually decide whether that's right for you first. And it also makes it a lot easier if a prospective partner raises that and you go, “No, that actually is not for us and this is why, we're not involved in this, we're not promoting pharmaceuticals as a solution to this particular sort of mental health issue,” for example, “But we do do this.” So you're able to just tell your story a lot more effectively as a result.

Chris:

Look at your situation, your offer, we've talked about knowing yourself as a charity, knowing your situation. Now as we've discussed, you probably know yourselves to a certain amount, but it's – this process really should get you thinking as critically and carefully about what you do and what you then can offer. But once you've done that, once you've looked at yourself in a way, there's also a need for the charity, for you as a charity to, as we say, stand outside itself. Thinking about the corporate that you may be looking to try and partner with, what are some of the things they might want that you can offer, how can they benefit from a partnership with your charity.

This type of process provides some perspective for your charity and it helps you make any pitch that you put forward far more, I guess, relevant, far more knowledgeable as well. So perspective and insight, as it says here, you don't want to be the world’s worst speed date, you don't want to just talk about yourself, you've got to be able to have some idea or some insight about what a prospective partner might want don't you?

Linda:

That's right, that's speed date analogy is absolutely perfect because you almost need to check yourself and go how often have I talked about myself in this conversation versus asked you anything, and sometimes it's really disproportionate and you need to just step yourself back a little bit. So I think initially when you're first out there prospecting, you're getting to know new prospective partners, it's really what we call a discovery meeting. So hopefully you'd have done a bit of your desktop research before you get out there because there's a lot of publicly available information on businesses. It's amazing how much you can actually get from their annual report, their website, what other people tell you about them, sometimes their customer reviews as well so they're very insightful.

So let's assume you've done your desktop research and you've got an idea that this might be a prospect for you or someone that's actually aligned to what you're doing or to your values. Then the next piece is really a discovery meeting that enables you to test that assumption, to test your research, and push that a little bit further. Now most businesses in know, when you ask them to describe their business, will go on for hours about it. They're very happy to share lots of information about what works for them, what doesn't work, what's their, what I call the squeaky wheel, what does keep them awake at night that's their problem they're trying to solve as well. It's just about asking those questions.

Sometimes if your entry point might be a cold call, you don't know them, you might also test whether they're the right person for you to be speaking to, and if not, could they suggest someone who is in the right area? Or if it's a warm introduction, let's say it's someone from your board or someone from your network said, “I think you need to go and speak to Chris, he knows all about these things,” then you're testing that and you're developing that further. So you'll be asking lots and lots of questions about what's important to them, what their strategy is, where their priorities are, what their timing is, where their budget cycle is so are you talking to them at the right time?

Also it's an opportunity for you to just insert some key messages about your organisation, about great things that you're doing at the moment. “By the way, that reminds me of the new program we're about to run out, I'm happy to tell you more about that.” What you're trying to find is points of synergy, points in common, in the same way that if you were on a date you're talking about your favourite food, your music, whether you both hate Justin Bieber, all of those things, you're trying to find things in common. So this is not dissimilar to that but you need to actually ask those questions and resist the temptation to talk about yourself for the hour.

Chris:

Well obviously the next slide here we've started, I guess, chatting about the idea of choosing a partner and that sort of stuff and the idea of alignment. So if you're – when your groundwork is laid out, you know where your charity is, know what you want out of a partnership, what you can offer as well, obviously the next step is to find a partner. Now that can be a bit of a challenge. It can be quite daunting. We're not going to sort of be dishonest here, it can be. Now approaching a business out of the blue can be a bit scary as well and this is I guess where we would perhaps say that turning up at the front door of a large glittering corporate might not be the best way to go.

I guess the idea here is to have a least a bit of a look at where your charity’s existing relationships lay, where they might be, and perhaps where you can take some of those relationships. If, for example, there's an individual in a business that you know that might be a bit of a supporter or champion, someone who's got a bit of experience with some of your services, they might be a good place to start. There might be a business that the people have already volunteered with you as well, that might be another option for you. It might even be just a business that has warmed to you that you know, they know you, you've already got a little bit of a relationship there with them, that might be a good starting point as well.

These are the sorts of things we talk about when we mention alignment, approaching someone you know and perhaps using the networks that you have. Talking with people that are already familiar with your charity that you've already got sort of a little bit of a hand on the doorknob or a foot in the door there, there's a relationship there, there's a familiarity, and that sort of thing is really important. And as we say here, there's an opportunity here for charities and SMEs. As you mentioned Linda, SMEs are often untapped or under-tapped, if that's a term.

Smaller charities, let's be honest, you're more likely to know small and medium businesses or at least have some familiarity with them, businesses that are located in the same place as your charity, you're more likely to know them or more about them. They could already be supportive, they could have natural links to your charity. They're not a bad place to start are they, when it comes to this type of thing?

Linda:

Well it could sound really scary Chris, the idea of cold calling with a large corporate in that sort of expensive foray, and the answer is you're not – you really don't want to be doing that. You really don't want to be doing that. So you'd be amazed how many warm leads you can actually get out of your database, whether it's large or small, because people often mind their donor database or their relationship database for individual gifts, whether it's large or small, but they don't think about the connection of that individual. So they think about Chris and your capacity to give more than your $20 a month, and so give you a bigger ask and ask you $500 a month, but they haven't thought about well actually Chris runs a large business. He runs a big furniture removal business, it's national, have we actually asked him whether we wanted to bring his business along? And it's a different conversation than an individual gift.

But if Chris is the founder and the owner, why would you not use that warm lead, that lead to someone who already likes your organisation enough to give to you, to actually have that further conversation. Now that's when the value of sort of tapping into SMEs comes. A lot of your introductions can often come via your leadership and your board, so tapping into their networks as well, so that your board member can make a warm introduction via email or in person, or even better, come along with you to the first meeting saying, “Yeah I'd like you to meet Joe, let me introduce you. I'm already a big supporter of this organisation, I can talk for it, I can be a big advocate for it, let me make that warm introduction.” Because the worst situation you can be in is emailing info@corporate with a proposal and hoping it lands, because it never goes anywhere, never goes to the right person, and you can imagine how many thousands, especially the larger corporates, might actually get.

It's not coming in with a proposition or a relationship or an introduction. And also get people to investigate their groups of volunteers because often community organisations really function on a very wide and very committed group of volunteers. Now sometimes there are businesses, sometimes everyone knows someone else. So tapping into those volunteer groups as well if you don't have a particularly big database, can be another way of developing warm introductions to networks. Now you can qualify that, so it might not be the right person, but it might be someone you can call and say, “This is a person in this organisation I'm trying to get to, can you make an introduction from within the organisation?” Even better.

Chris:

Yes, use them as a connector in a way, yeah.

Linda:

So it's a multi-step thing. You don't often get to the right person right up, unless your board is going to introduce them to the CEO or the board chair, which is great so book that meeting, but it just takes a little while to actually get to the right person that you need. So use those networks and don't be afraid to ask those questions and ask for referrals.

Chris:

Well sometimes too when you're looking at partners, you're looking at small and medium enterprises too, their ability or their I guess say special skills I suppose in a way, can often shape what might work as a partnership as well. I mean you mentioned before, it's all fun and good to ask poor old Chris for $500 instead of $20, but if Chris runs a business that can help you, then that can shape a partnership without even a second thought. Saying, “Oh well yeah, hold on a second here, we can actually get in and we can actually work with him in a certain way that will help both of our organisations.” So that's another thing to think about, the model itself and who you talk to might help shape that as well.

Linda:

And also too, to be an open mind that who you're talking to might have their own ideas as well and have something, rather than you come up with the whole thing and here's a done deal I'd like you to buy into, but allow them to have some input around well what do you know? So in that example I gave of that place based solution where we're trying to create a more family inclusive environment for young families, the organisations drew a lot of insight from the local real estate agents and developers who are building all these new housing estates and seeing who's coming in, and they're also working to influence them saying, “Could you put more green space into your development? Can you allow for that funny awkward triangular corner plot, can we make that into a playground?”

Chris:

There's always one of those too.

Linda:

There's always that, the sort of last things. And it's a core of where real estate and developers are trying to build more sustainable communities and also sort of build more connection. Because they're selling things, but they also want to have successful proof of concept when they go and build it somewhere else, about what works and what made a really thriving community. So they had a lot of insight as to what are the demographics of the people moving in? Who is buying, what are their situations, all of those things that really help to inform the project.

Chris:

Now we touched on the idea of no-go zones a few minutes back. Again, as part of the process here you need to identify and avoid bad fits, problems, nasties, that you may not sort of think about initially, it might go under the radar. Linda, you mentioned a couple of pretty decent examples in terms of things like say if a charity has a problem working with someone who might have gambling on their agenda or might have alcohol on their agenda and that sort of stuff. What are some – maybe you've got an example as well that might get people thinking as well, because it's amazing what, if you dig a little bit below the surface what you might find, yeah.

Linda:

That's right and that's where not just your desktop research but sort of talking to people really helps and where in that discovery meeting you can flush out a whole bunch of things. But also it's worth having a detailed conversation, spending a bit of time with your own organisation doing that first, because it might be really easy to determine what the absolute no-go areas are. So you might say, “We don't deal with tobacco companies,” or anyone doing pornography or armaments. So they're kind of some big ones, or you might have a view on gambling or alcohol for example. It's easy to kind of go, “These are my absolute red flag ones and we wouldn't touch those.”

Then there will be another category which is kind of your amber list, where you go, “Under certain circumstances we could or maybe with parts of their business but not others.” So you might think about a partnership with Woolworths around promoting fresh food and health benefits of eating fresh produce rather than processed food for example, or fresh fruit for kids, it might be great. And then you think about OK well what's my level of appetite for dealing with an organisation that doesn't do just fresh food, but has alcohol outlets, and there's lots of alcohol outlets, and it also owns a lot of pokie machines and gaming operations. So how big is it as a part of their overall income? So what's my overall tolerance? Is it 5% of their income? Is it less than 50%? And these are sort of nuances that you really to need think about with your team.

And that's a conversation you have, not just amongst your fundraising team but all of your team and your leadership, and build a framework for decision making because sometimes one of these companies may well come to you and go, “We've got this great idea.” Now I had an organisation that was about promoting taking a break from alcohol and an alcohol company approached it and said, “Actually we want to do a special of low alcohol or no alcohol beverage for this time, can we partner with you?” and they really thought about it because it's all about – they're all about promoting more responsible consumption of alcohol and understanding the impact of addition and they really did think about it. And they went, “You know what, I know the intent sound good, but all of the other things that come with this very large alcohol company aren't actually worth it because it just compromises our values.”

So have those sorts of conversations and that amber category, and also build yourself a framework for decision making because you may have a clear set of who you will and won't partner with, but does anyone in the organisation know who has the final decision? And you could go round and round for months because no one actually knows who has decision rights on it. So let's think about how you escalate that decision, who has the final decision on something that might be slightly contentious or a little bit controversial or some sort of risk, put it in a formal policy and formalise a process for doing that.

Chris:

Now with talking about formal policies and that sort of thing, now we might have our partnership model, we might have even found our partner at this stage, our ducks might be in line. Defining the agreements, now is it good enough to just have a verbal understanding or a handshake agreement? Given that this slide is talking about written agreements, clearly we don't think that's real best practice. A written agreement really offers some structure here, it's a document that's set out between partners and it defines and gives direction to a partnership, its aims, the roles within it, the tasks it aims to complete.

Written agreements provide the opportunity to set out in detail the terms of the partnership. As it says here, “Expectations, deliverables, timeframes and responsibilities,” they keep things on track and this is when we're looking to not just the short term but the medium to longer term as well. And this is where I guess the value of a written agreement comes out. It can be a reference point for the future. We mention here Linda, how agreements sort of keep track and provide triggers for future participation direction and decision, how does a charity go about writing or putting together these types of provisions into an agreement?

Linda:

Well firstly I'd say that a written agreement is really important because you don't buy a house on a handshake and why would you do that with a partnership? And also, if you think about the length of the partnership, if you're intending this to be a longer term relationship, then things change within that. So people change. If you think about the average 10 year of a CEO of a business, it seems to be three years and getting shorter, especially if you were working in a banking industry. So people change at both ends. You could move and then where's the history of what you actually agreed? So having everything in writing is an absolutely basic requirement and it doesn't have to be scary, it doesn't have to be a 50 page agreement, and you get some expensive law firm in it.

It can be just a really simple template that everyone agrees to, but it has to have some really fundamental pieces. And I call it a schedule of deliverables which is a fancy way of saying, “Can you describe what's going to be delivered by whom, when and how frequently?” so everyone knows what's their bit in the partnership and how often and who's doing what. It helps because subsequent conversations it may involve, and then the relationship manager or the charity staff may change, the person sitting at the other end at the business may well change, no one’s got a history of what was going on there. So that schedule of deliverables, which is just outlining the terms of it, is really important.

One other thing that's really important is to build in at least annually a review of the partnership to make sure everything is on track. Have you put some measures in to know that both of you are actually hitting your targets? That you actually – if you said, “We are going to have a partnership that enables access to financial literacy for 200 people in this area.” Has anyone measured it and can you tell you've got that? Or maybe you got there really early and go, “OK great, what about the next 200?” Things change at both ends. And also a great example for you of how corporate arrangements change, so ownership changes. Businesses merge, businesses become new businesses, and what might be a really innocuous partner that I worked with once, which was an engineering company that got taken over by a big American multinational that did all sorts of things like armaments for the Defence Forces, bombs, those type of things, doesn't really kind of fit.

The engineering company and the children's charity didn't really fit with a large armaments company. So it provided a trigger point for being able to say, “This no longer fits our values,” and therefore that's a break clause and you can exit that before it potentially does damage to your brand and reputation. So it always helps just to have everything written really clearly, everyone knows where they stand, and you can always have reference points that you can come back to, not just to check in with each other, but also to celebrate success that you achieved what you said you were going to achieve.

Chris:

Now we've mentioned break clauses, we've mentioned reviews, and these I guess are going to come up again in the next couple of slides. We look at maintaining the partnership, written agreements are obviously a key part of that. But partnerships are like a lot of things, they need maintenance to do more than just survive, to thrive, to grow, and to maximise the benefits for everyone involved and the wider community. Here we've listed some of the things you should be doing towards this type of maintenance. Again as Linda has just mentioned, regular reviews are an obvious way to keep the partnership spick and span and looking good and functioning well.

Reviews can be, as you mentioned before, the annual review, they can be regular catch ups even as well, there's I guess a review element to that. Talking and communicating is key here, knowing what's coming up on the horizon, expectations, changes, goals, all of that sort of stuff. Yeah so partners should really schedule regular catch ups, regular chats, it keeps everyone communicating, talking on the same page, it fosters relationships, builds relationships, but there's other things as well that can be part of the maintenance process. One idea is the idea of evaluating. The other is that there are, again that we mentioned before, triggers that might see a change in direction as well. When we look at evaluating, what are we talking about here Linda?

Linda:

Well firstly that conversation, that ongoing conversation is really important. So don't wait til the annual review to tell someone that something’s not working or that's slightly off track, so make sure it's an open dialogue between yourself and your partner. Then I'd encourage everyone to think about what other pillars of activity, as we call them, can this partnership potentially yield? So it might have started off like my example, where you shared some premises and then did an initial piece of promotion. What else could you do? Think about other things that could work with this partnership. It might be volunteering, it might be some joint advocacy. You might get on so well that you might invite someone from your partner to actually be on your board. You could potentially offer some of your really expert stuff as speakers to a particular event.

Let's say your business Chris, Chris Inc., is having its 10th anniversary, wouldn’t it be great if you say, “We really value the partnership, we can lend you our latest expert in youth employment to come and talk to you about all the great things we've done together.” It could be research and measurement, so this has been a really successful partnership, look at what we've achieved, how about we then put some evidence around it and tell everyone else about it and think about how they could maybe employ the same concept, and just some really simple things about invite them to events. If you're having a celebration thing where a lot of your young people have graduated from your program, have you thought about inviting your corporate partner to come and share in the success? Don't keep it all to yourself.

Chris:

Yeah and that sounds really obvious but gee, that's something that you can overlook really easily as well. Of course they should be there, they should be the first people invited, but it's very, very easy to overlook that sort of stuff isn't it?

Linda:

I think it is and it's just sometimes the simple things, and it could be introductions to some of your key staff or ambassadors. Or sometimes introductions to your other partners because bringing the partners together, let's say you've got a suite of different partners, they love to talk to each other about what they’re achieving and feed off each other and get ideas. In the same way that if you're managing individual donors or major donors, getting them in together in a giving circle often stimulates a lot of thinking and a lot of inspiration. So in the right circumstances, it could work really well with your partners as well.

Chris:

Got a little phrase here up on this slide here, “Ensure everyone understands the key components to maintaining the partnership, and then include them in your partnership agreement.” Now that's again, a key part of maintaining the partnership as you go along. Now we get to the last bit. Partnerships are going to end. Everything ends I suppose and you've got to be prepared for it, you've got to have a process in place so that when the time comes it's clear what needs to be done, the process is well defined. Again, that's should be put in a partnership agreement at the start. Now some of the things we look at here, if there are review points, agreed on end triggers, all the wind up processes, notice periods that might be in place.

And the last one, I'll stick my head up and say that I reckon this is really important, is any reporting on the partnership, any story telling that you might have, some of the successors, some of the learnings, and that sort of stuff. When it comes to that sort of thing, how can you go about that? I mean you can put a bit of a report together, you can bung something in an annual report maybe. But how important is it to just not wind up and walk into oblivion, but to actually say what you've done, say what you've achieved, tell people about it?

Linda:

It's so important to the relationship and if you expect to have an ongoing relationship with them or to have other successful relationships for which you'd love this one to be a testimonial. So sometimes it's not just about reporting on what did we do with your money? This is not just an acquittal report. This is about did we set goals originally for this partnership of what we were going to achieve together, how many people we were going to feed, how many young people are educated, et cetera, et cetera, and at the end of it can we tell whether we've been successful and have we remember to celebrate that success as well? Because everyone loves to celebrate success so allow your partner to do that too and what did you learn from it?

So in the course of the program did you learn that not only did young people want employment but they also needed life skill training for example, and so this is how you might go forward or how you might inspire others to come on board to do that. I think an important part in the agreement is to agree on the measures that you're going to collect and who's going to collect them. So sometimes it might be your partner that's collecting them. You might encourage your partner.

Let's say you've got a partnership with a retailer who are philanthropically minded, but they also want to drive more foot traffic through their stores. You'd ask them in the agreement to collect that data so at the end of say three to five years you go, “How did it go for you? Did it work?” because you want to know if their foot traffic went up by 20% as a result of the partnership. Why? Not just because you want to celebrate their success, but also you want to take that as an example to other partners to say, “Look what we achieved for Chris’s business, we could potentially do this for you as well.” Or, “Here's a great example of what really worked.” So agreeing on that measurement of the data collection, being clear on the impact for both parties, and not forgetting to celebrate those successes.

Chris:

And the end of one partnership in that way is a way of almost looking at it as a starting point for the next one, here's what we did, here's how it helped the business, here's how it helped the community, here's what we achieved. So when you go to the next partnership you've got all that information there and it's ready to convey to your next prospective partner as well, which becomes a decent selling point I suppose.

Linda:

It becomes your evidence bank of you are a credible partner, you've clearly got some testimonial, you've got some great outcomes. You may or may not be working on with that partner for whatever reason, or you may have taken it to a different project or a different initiative with them and then here's the next opportunity.

Chris:

Now let's see, we're about 10 minutes away from 1:00. So what we're going to do is we're going to whip through the next couple of slides a little bit quickly, but it's probably a good point. And here you can see up on the screen, and thank you Linda, for adding to our presentation with this slide, a bit of an idea, a bit of an outline of the engagement cycle of a partnership. Now again, probably with time, don't go scribbling, these slides will be available on the website, the recording will be available as well. So if you keep an eye out at acnc.gov.au/webinars, you will be able to get this information including this slide and all the other slides and the recording and all that sort of stuff. So don't fear that you might have missed anything.

Linda:

And I've got to say, once you – when you look at that engagement cycle, don't freak out, don't make – it's not too hard, it really isn't. What it does is just give you a step-by-step way of building a capability for corporate partnerships. So each one of them is not hard, it's not particularly long, but it's all the things you actually need to think about. And it's probably a way of me saying, “If your boss says to you, ‘Just get out there and make 50 calls a week,’” show them this and go, “Well we haven't done any of these first so it’s not likely to be successful if we haven't actually built all of these steps first.” So for all of you out there with really difficult bosses, show them this one first.

Chris:

All right now we've gone through, we've got about 10 key points to remember. Now I'll whip through these relatively quickly. These are sort of the key takeaways when it comes to your charity and partnership, so let's see, I'll start at the start again. Corporate partnerships, again they're not like any other types of fundraising. Partnerships can transform your charity. Think about the total value to your charity, to the corporate, to the community. Be strategic. This is a relationship we're talking about here, it's not just a transaction. A good place to start is with the familiar, those two you may have relationships with, who you know, they might be donors, they might be networks. Have some perspective and think about what you have to offer and who might be interested.

Look for alignment and put solid foundations in place. Again, build those foundations before you go too far down the track. Written agreement, we've emphasised that a few times, make sure that you get that up and going. Have some clear goals and some clear expectations. Again, they can be included in that agreement. Maintain and nurture the relationship, and there's a number of ways that you can do that, which we've gone through. And finally, have a clear exit strategy or end strategy in place and have some triggers there so you know the points at which you might have to wind things up and the steps involved in winding things up.

Questions, there we go. We've probably – he says looking at his clock and realising it's about five minutes away. We've probably got time for one. Now with this one, and I'm going to highlight this one because it was asked by a few people in the lead up to today’s webinar. So I'm just going to have a quick look here. A few people are interested in knowing if you're wanting to get involved in a partnership, what would make a charity from an ACNC perspective non compliant when it comes to a partnership? Would it affect charity status, that sort of thing? I guess briefly, any behaviour that would threaten a charity’s compliance with the law, with ACNC requirements, state and territory regulations, the same sort of stuff applies when it comes to partnerships.

You need to comply with the law as a charity, you've got to be honest, be transparent, comply with governance standards, all of that sort of thing. Importantly, and perhaps I guess more specifically here, a charity’s involvement in a corporate partnership must not see it breach Governance Standard 1. Now Governance Standard 1, it makes sense, Governance Standard 1 states clearly that charities must be not for profit in nature and work towards the charitable purposes. If, for example, a charity’s status as a not for profit is threatened through any partnership arrangement, that might become an issue. Similarly if the charity becomes, for example, just a vehicle for partnership work or a business enterprise in a way, there might be issues again.

So don't let partnerships I guess run your charity. That's probably good advice full stop, but ensure your charity runs the partnership in that way. The best way for a charity to ensure it's doing the right thing is to continually ensure the partnership is well maintained and it's achieving things that are related to the charity’s work and purpose and achieving things that are making positive impacts into the wider community. So that would probably be some decent advice there. OK, there's some associated resources on the topic. We have a very useful partnerships guide at the address there. We also have a podcast featuring Linda and myself, so if you're happy to listen to us for a little while longer we're on that one too. That's a really worthwhile listen, it's about 15 minutes I think of us having a chat about partnerships. It covers some of the same ground we've covered today, it covers some different ground as well. So if you're interested in learning a bit more, there's some resources for you there.

Stay in touch, there's always lots and lots of ways of staying in touch with us through ACNC email updates, commissioner’s column, through our various social networks, and that sort of stuff as well, and our address where we stash all our webinar is there on the page too. It's about lunch time I reckon if it's not already, except for those who might be over in the west. Thank you for joining us today. Thank you for paying attention. Thank you for zooming through questions and your engagement and your interest.

We are going to hang around for a little while longer if there's still some questions to be answered. Bree and Matt will by typing away madly and going through all the bits and pieces there so if you've got any further questions, quickly send them through. Or if you're more comfortable sending them through via email, education@acnc.gov.au. Thank you to Matt and to Bree for going through and helping us out with the questions. Massive thanks to our guest today, Linda Garnett, thank you very much, it was great to catch up again. Thank you for coming by.

Linda:

It's been a pleasure and for everyone out there, best of luck with your partnership journeys. There are plenty of opportunities there with businesses of all size and all type, so I do encourage you to just explore that and not miss out on those opportunities.

Chris:

Indeed. Thank you everyone again for coming along. We'll let you get away and grab a bite to eat or wander and do something. And keep checking back with the website, we'll have the recording and the slides and all the bits and pieces up in the next little bit. Thanks again, see you later, bye.

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