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.

How to write a workable, base-line business plan in a day

A lot of business owners hear the words business plan and block their ears – “I don’t need one of those, I’m not going for a loan”; “It’s too hard to write a business plan and it’s only going to sit in the bottom draw!”; “26 pages that I never refer to – waste of time and money”; “That’s all just SWOT analysis (whatever that is) and financials, I don’t need that” – these comments are true, if you think about a business plan in a traditional sense; and if you are creating a plan for the sole purpose of raising capital.

However, a plan for your business should be all about the people who are going to execute it, you and your team. It needs to be in your language and in a format that works for your business. It needs to be simple and goal orientated. But be clear – without a plan you probably won’t get to where you want to be, because without a plan how do you know where ‘there’ is?

It can be hard to step outside the day to day ‘doing’ of your business, it’s hard to think big picture when your To Do list is really long and you have a team who really want your attention. BUT, the time you invest in putting together a plan will pay dividends, no doubt. Below is a suggested agenda for how to write a workable, base-line business plan in a day – you will need to dedicate one day, shut the door on a quiet space and document where ‘there’ is.


On the day you have set side, spend your first 67 minutes (timed) thinking about the next 12 months and think beyond this by no less than 3 years. Then, write down – what will the business look like; what will you be doing; what will the team look like, think in detail – be descriptive.

They will not be new ideas, you would have had these thoughts for a while, maybe even a long while, but you haven’t extracted them from your mind and given them oxygen. Yes, it’s true, once they have oxygen there is a chance of failure – but if you don’t do anything, you are guaranteed not to fail, but at the same time you are highly likely to live with regret.

To work this out you might need to stare out the window for a little while; you might need some white noise in the background (maybe loud and heavy rain sounds); or put some classical music on in the background, whatever you need.

Now, take a break to clear your head before the next session.


Spend the next 86 minutes thinking about how you can reach ‘there’ – you need steps along the way, milestones to reach, to celebrate, and then to look ahead to the next goal. What are the targets over the next 12 months – set up 5 goals for the business to reach for, and make 2 of these stretch goals (the ones that make you really nervous). Here is a list to get you started:

  • $xx annual turnover

  • xx% of market share

  • xx number of new clients or xx number of clients at a high value per sale (move the smaller clients up the scale or gift them to a supplier who is smaller than you)

  • xx number of products/services (a reduction of or introduction of new)

  • xx% decrease in staff turnover

  • xx number of new staff or new stores/offices

  • $xx savings in operational costs

  • Etc, etc

Be brave and back yourself – try not to beat yourself before you start, try not to worry about the headaches that winning more business can bring – block out thoughts around hiring more staff, increased floor/office space required, etc, etc. This is a time for thinking big, dreaming a lot, and being honest about what you want for the future of the business.

Also, spend some of this 86 minutes considering what the goals are for you as the leader of your organisation. Separate your goals, from the business goals (often these have become intertwined) – think about ways the business could run without you, jobs that other people could manage (outsourced or within your team). Then think about what you would do with the extra time this might free up, set a target/goal for this too.

Maybe at this stage you need to talk of this through with someone; or, if this is not your strength maybe you need to hire a specialist who can help take the information out of your head and put it into a workable document for you, however, draft it as best you can first.

Again, it’s time for a break, a good break – go for lunch and relax.


Dedicate the next 47 minutes to reviewing what you have documented re-read it and be sure that you have identified the ‘end game’ and the milestones along the way. Now congratulate yourself – you have the outline of your business plan – you have taken a brave step and should feel a mix of terror and excitement! This is normal, this is why we call ourselves entrepreneurs right? If we didn’t enjoy that combined feeling we would chuck it in and work on someone else’s vision.

It’s time to build out the detail of your plan as required – start with 1 page that summarises your business; then look at the elements you have noted below and note how they will come to life; what will you focus on; when will things happen; how much money will you need for each aspect of the plan; and who will do what; also give some thought to your goals in context of what else is going on in your industry. You should also create an actions list or spreadsheet noting who will do what to make it happen, by when, etc.

And, relax.


Finally, each plan needs input – so take time out with your team, allow at least 90 minutes, and present the plan to them – really share the vision you have for your company, get them excited. It is reassuring for staff to know there is a destination you are all working toward and, as your team have lots of great ideas, this is an excellent opportunity for them to contribute to the plan, for them to own it too, before you finalise it.

As you want everyone to use your plan, pull out the key points and goals, put them in a format that works for your team, and post it up around the office. Finally, schedule time in your diary each quarter for the next 12 months to check-in on progress, make any required changes; and to celebrate your achievements.

NB Please be clear, this document may not be sophisticated enough to be used to secure financial investment, but it is an excellent workable document for you and your team.

Good luck!

Being your own player manager

As a business owner it sometimes feels like you are a player manager – telling everyone everything is OK, even if your man has turned his ankle and might be out for the season. This is natural, fake it till you make it, and the power of positive thinking – it’s a good thing – as long as you don’t bury your head in the sand about the extent of your business problems.

  • If the reality means you need to be honest and say it’s not working, do it;

  • If the reality means you have to take some risks, spend some money and call in those who can help, do it; and

  • If the reality means you have to make some cuts that will mean you can survive, it sucks, but you have to do it.

The first step is acknowledging the problem – do you have a list of all the things that are on your mind. If not, pull out a piece of paper and write them all down – allow 47 minutes to do this, set your timer. Be as specific as you can, but don’t think too hard about the details, you are simply wanting to get a picture of the current position. If you know the solution note that down, if not, star it as a job to work out who can help you find the solution. Once you have the ‘challenge’ list ponder it for a day.

Next, set yourself another 47 minutes and prioritise your list, then apply Brian Tracy’s Eat That Frog

Principle 3 – apply the 80/20 rule – rationalise your list, be honest and ruthless, only 20% of the things on the list will deliver greater results than 80% of jobs on the list, so only do them!?!

Next step is to invoke Principle 12 Take it One Oil Barrel at a Time – sometimes when things are bad, we need to compartmentalise the problems, deal with them one at a time. Once you’ve knocked off one ‘Oil Barrel’ things should get a little easier, firstly there is one less problem, secondly the knock on effect is that your mind is a little freer to consider the next most important problem and consider what your options for solving that. Also you are one ‘barrel’ closer to your end goal.

Also, to be your best player manager, you should take this opportunity to make some changes to ensure you don’t fall back into bad habits. A good habit is to follow Principle 17 Do the Most Difficult Task First – set aside time, first thing every morning, to Eat that Frog. Get the ugliest job of the day done first, you will feel better, your mind will be a clearer, and your shoulders will have less of a weight on them.

Good luck!

Why do I need to know that?

As an entrepreneur we find ways to save money and often the upside is that we get to learn how things work along the way. For example I recently learnt how to build a website, I was pretty determined that I wasn’t going to pay someone 3 grand to create something that I felt didn’t need to be too fancy, it just needed to say what we did. The upside was that I learnt how it works, I also learnt that I didn’t want to do that again! Our new site is so much better, and I got help – you can tell, right?

Well, there are things that I can’t learn, there are things that I really, as much as I’d like to cut corners and save money, I know it ultimately won’t save me money. We see a lot of business owners do this, for all the right reasons, but what we really need to focus on is why?

As a business owner there are just some things that, once we’ve given it a crack, we need to be honest and say, I don’t know about that, but often we forget to face that fact that this should mean: “so I think I should find someone who does”. I think I should cut myself some slack and accept that I don’t need to know that – I just need to know someone who knows how to do that. We see a lot of business owners trying to do it all – why should you be good at everything??

Why do people specialise? Why do businesses that are a niche inside a niche succeed? Quite simply because they know what they are good at, and they focus on that, and it’s what the digital age has enabled, we can find a dietitian that specialises in allergies to foods with night shades – image the size of the Yellow Pages© if we listed these things today….

As business owners this provides great opportunity to help us lighten the load, however business owners are their toughest critics and often really expect too much of themselves. Let’s take an example of preparing your business strategy: there are a million free templates for this, and some of them really are great, where things come unstuck are with industry terms that as marketers or strategists we ‘get’ them, but as with your industry terms, they don’t make a lot of sense to other humans. Exhibit A: a SWOT analysis, this is our way of saying: what are you great at (Strengths); what are your competitors better at (Weakness); what have you yet to maximise within your business (Opportunities); and, where are you at risk from your competitors or industry changes (Threat)…. Simple? Even as I write this and read it back, I’m not sure it’s that easy to explain without talking specifically about your business, working through both pairings together. So the point is, if you took the time to understand the theory behind this principle, how would it impact your business; are you better off finding an expert and working it through together – if it’s of interest to you to learn, then give it a shot, but consider if it is the best use of your time?

Sit down today for 27 minutes (set a timer) and think about what you are good at? Write it down. Note down what you like doing within your business and what you don’t enjoy. Write out what you don’t have a clue about, that you think you should. Then, review your list, think about the other people in your team, what are they good at? What can you hand over to them? What do you want to learn about and find a course/event/coach who can help you learn more. Be clear about what you really need to outsource – who can help? Who are the specialists? And what return would you expect if you spent money on these people, products or solutions?

Come back to this list tomorrow and discuss it with your team – make it happen!

Rekindle the spark

Being an entrepreneur is an exciting title and one that all who hold it, quite rightly do so with a sense of pride. And for many years that feeling carries us through the days when we only have ten dollars in the bank; it makes the toughest days ok; it helps us laugh when we really should be in the corner on the floor. For most business owners this is why we get up every day and see what adventure the day has in stall for us, and we love it!!

So, when did the feeling of being an entrepreneur fade? When did you become a business owner and no longer an entrepreneur? Well, it seems to us that this switch occurs when owners feel they are no longer building something; when it has turned into a job; and when owners spend more time working in their business than working on it.

The realisation of this situation can be extremely enlightening. Unfortunately, a lot of business owners take years to reach the point where they realise they’ve fallen a little out of love with what they created and it’s time to take a moment to sit back and review what they’ve achieved; consider where they are now; and decide what the future will look like.

If you are a business owner, have you reached this point?

If you have been through it, congratulations, I hope you are again reinvigorated for your creation and are looking to the future with renewed passion based on the path you have chosen for your business – growth, exit, or sale.

If you are currently standing at the edge of this consciousness – get ready to enjoy the ride! This can be a very exciting time for you. Of course it’s no picnic – there are some really difficult questions you will need to answer and some major challenges you will need to face. You must be ready for change and open to seeking input from people who don’t love your business like you do, but their input is necessary to give you a fresh perspective; to help you see the future clearly; and for you to be in a place to embrace change.