Corporate Partnerships 2020 and beyond

There’s something about round numbers, like the year 2020, that invite us to take a step back to see where we are relative to where we thought we’d be, prior to looking to the next milestone date.

Over the last few years we have seen some exciting shifts in our industry, here are 5 trends that are gaining solid traction that can positively influence how you approach partnerships in your organisation into 2020 and beyond.

  1. More than a bottom-line focus

Historically, brands have approached relationships with charity partners via their CSR program as a way of giving back, which makes perfect sense, until it doesn’t.

Today, more brands are adopting the Shared Value construct, as defined by Michael Porter and Mark Kramer. This approach calls for brands to seek authentic partnerships with a deep problem-solving focus. The goal is for everyone to ‘win’ by creating programs that have a positive effect on the communities they operate in, while advancing the competitiveness of their organisations.

These deals can be extremely complicated to land, but, if you are keen to pursue one, ensure you are clear on your purpose, and start identifying brands that are likely to have the problem that you solve.

  1. Partnerships with (more) Purpose

The days of businesses identifying their Mission Statements have finally turned a corner, with a solid shift towards brands wanting to identify their (true) purpose. Many brands are taking a step back to identify what they are all about at their core – what value do they offer in exchange for the revenue they generate.

For many years there has been talk of this, however, it feels like now is the time brands are starting to see the difference knowing their purpose can have on their people, their customers, and their bottom line.

Brands that successfully identify their purpose, take a very different approach to partnerships too. They are looking to build enduring and meaningful relationships – programs that everyone can look back on with pride and say, ‘I was part of creating that’, or ‘that partnership created [this] impact on our [environment]’.

These deals are personal, significant and measurable. They are about coming together and creating solutions that:

  • take the best of both brands,
  • deliver on each brand’s goals, and
  • positively impact our world,

how can you not love them!! This is the definition of true partnership.

  1. Streamlining for growth

With so many registered charities in this country, and one of the most common challenges when talking partnership is cut-through – there is a great deal to be gained from exploring the opportunity to collaborate with those who share your purpose.

If your organisation is at a tipping point of growth and you’d like to go after some ‘bigger fish’ brand partners, it would serve you well to initiate some open dialogue with a number of like-minded organisations with a view to come together to land a bigger deal.

If a corporate has an interest in your core focus, then coming together will mean you are able to offer them scale and/or greater geographic reach, which could be a win for everyone.

  1. Shifting measurement indicators

Having a tonne of logos on your partner page may look pretty, but if the deals lack true value for your organisation, are they worth the effort?

One way to bring rigour to this process is to include a Working Money Ratio (WMR) measurement indicator as part of your go-to-market strategy. This means you measure the health of your partnerships by comparing every dollar you receive from a brand, relative to how much you invest servicing that deal.

Obviously, not all deals are cash-based, but calculating the WMR against contra deals will also be a good indicator if they are worth the effort.

Once you determine your current, and your ideal Working Money Ratio – based hard costs of marketing, event costs, tickets, the opportunity cost of brand association, hours of your team’s time invested per week, etc, etc – then you can then focus on realigning your deals to a healthier revenue margin.

  1. Who is King?

Is cash or content the King? We all want cash deals and need some element of cash to cover our costs. However, if your audience is craving authentic opportunities to positively impact their community, and you have a foot-hold in that community, doesn’t it make sense to ensure you have a strong story telling (content) play as part of your partnership offering?

Take a look at your partnership prospectus and consider the inclusions you could offer brands that they could share via their socials or wider marketing channels. What opportunities could you create to jointly tell stories of the impact as a result of the partnership you forge together is having.

With the right partner this may result in your organisation receiving more value from a content-led partnership that sees you integrated into a large-scale marketing campaign.



This article was originally published by Fundraising & Philanthropy Magazine in December 2019.



About Sam Trattles – Sam has built a career around negotiation – through marketing, brand, and sponsorship roles over 20 years. She builds capability and confidence in your people by creating strategies that deliver positive business results. Unlocking the value in all your deals. Sam is a straight shooter, she is practical and likes to share her knowledge to help others learn to love negotiating (or to at least, not to hate it). Because it’s worth a great deal.

“I hate sponsorships”

If you’re a CMO who’s marketing budget is consumed by one big line item – SPONSORSHIPS,

AND if the strategy to acquire these sponsorships has been that the CEO loves cricket, so we sponsor cricket,

THEN why wouldn’t you hate sponsorships?



A sponsorship portfolio, that is created:

  • in line with your overarching marketing and business strategies,
  • selected specifically to reach your ideal target audience, and
  • has a through-the-line marketing and sales approach around the roll out,

It WILL deliver the brand and revenue generating opportunities you seek.


All this may be true, HOWEVER, the challenge will be, how do we tell the CEO we’re no longer going to sponsor the ‘cricket’?

EASY, you put a strong enough case forward so she can’t say no:

  • Start with a health check of what delivers and what doesn’t deliver from your partnership portfolio,
  • understand the percentage of the overall marketing budget that the under-performing assets are eating up, and
  • do a review of more strongly aligned partnerships in the market that could deliver against your KPIs with ease.

Armed with this analysis you have a case for changing the shape of these deals for the better.


Then, it will be time to NEGOTIATE the:

  • reshaping of an existing deal so it works for you;
  • exiting an under-performing deal; and/or
  • entering into some new deals

All this should see you end up with a sponsorship portfolio that will rock your marketing and sales teams (in a great way).

With a strategic portfolio in place, and a co-ordinated approach to leveraging this investment across all verticals of your organisation, there’s just ONE MORE THING TO DO – buy the big boss a box at the cricket so she can continue to enjoy the summer. 😊


If any of the above has piqued your interest but you’re not sure where to start, call us to book a Sponsorship Portfolio Health Check today!