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.

Negotiating isn’t a fight, but be ready.

Recently a one of my favourite people was talking about me (which is always a bit interesting), specifically she mention the biggest thing I taught her about negotiating, she said – until I worked with Sam, I always thought to be a good negotiator you had a be a bit of an a**hole, that you had to be aggressive to get what you want.

This statement made me smile. Don’t get me wrong, I can be a bulldog in a negotiation, when it’s necessary, but why would you want to behave like a jerk to get what you want? It’s just a conversation to find out what’s most important to each of you and talk through where there is cross-over.

Here are 3 tips to help ‘keep your head’ in negotiations:

·      KNOW WHAT YOU WANT – Be prepared, know points that there isn’t an issue, where you are willing to be flexible, and what your deal-breakers are – this is where you want to focus your energy. (Also, consider where they will probably have the same.)

·      IT’S NOT A BLOODY FIGHT – Get your head in the game, a negotiation is simply a conversation, not an argument. Emotions are inevitable when it’s important, so prepare for that and don’t enter into it with a negative mindset. Have a list of questions ready, to help you stay focussed and create time for you to breath. If things get a bit heated, take a break.

·      BE CLEAR, THEN BE QUIET – When you get to talking about your deal-breakers, listen to their position, talk it through to try and understand the core difference of opinion, then – state your position, outline why you feel it is reasonable, then ask the other person if they agree? And BE QUIET, give them to time to think – usually if it is reasonable they will agree with you.

Here’s an example to bring this to life – recently one of my websites went down – normally not the biggest deal. However, it was in the middle of a promotion, so it was a big issue that a white screen was appearing in place of the webpage that readers required. I didn’t know I was entering a negotiation with the web provider, but nonetheless, I did the following:

·      I prepared by taking a few minutes to investigate if I had missed something and I recalled a conversation with them a couple of months ago about how I had received a notification about this site, something was expiring, but when I rang they said they thought I had been spammed so not to worry about it. So, I thought that MIGHT have something to do with it.

·      Adjusted my mindset – yes, this was a bit of a big deal, but I had to get a solution, more than I needed to blame someone. After 30 minutes of investigation, the consultant informed me he could get everything fixed, however I would have to pay the Disaster Recovery team’s fees…..ah, I’m not sure that’s fair….

·      So, I tried to be very clear, I calmly explained that I had rung and discussed this with the company some months earlier and was told ‘not to worry’, which I had done. But as it turns out the current issue is related to that conversation, I think it’s unreasonable for the organisation to expect me to pay for a service that is only required because of an error on their part. I asked him ‘Don’t you agree?’ and I was silent.

·      I’m pleased to say he did some further investigation, spoke to his boss and they agreed. More importantly, he got the problem solved, AND we had a really positive interaction, I was extremely thankful for what he did (and gave him a glowing NPS review).

No need to have a fight or be an a**hole to get what you want – I hope you find this helpful!