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The benefits of embracing a shared value partnership approach

If there’s one donor market most South African fundraisers seek to actively engage with, its corporates. Giving by corporate South Africa has evolved significantly over the past 10 years, with corporate giving practices generally becoming more strategic and for some, strongly influenced by the BBBEE scorecard. DMI’s Sarah Scarth reports.

At the recent International Fundraising Congress (IFC) 2018 in Holland, CEO of the Children’s Hospital Trust (CHT), Louise Driver, explored the concept and elements of successful corporate shared value partnerships, from the perspective of the NPO. In this interview for Fundraising Forum, she shares some of the key take-aways from the workshop session:

How has giving by corporates changed?

LD: There’s definitely been a change in how many corporates work with NPOs compared to 10 years ago.

The trend now is for all-inclusive partnerships with shared value. For example a company makes a financial donation; shares the proceeds from their golf day and/or other client events; gives in-kind product donations; and sets up staff engagement opportunities – it’s a package of support.

There are certainly still some ‘traditional”’ corporates who allocate funding based on requests received, but to grow (i.e. by not just focusing on a once-off donation), NPOs need to embrace a ‘shared value’ approach.

More and more companies want and need to find new and different ways to get involved with the organisations they choose to support and they want to see internal (staff) and external (customer) marketing value from their work with NPOs.

FF: Why the increasing shift to shared value partnerships?

LD: There are a number of factors influencing the change. For example, increasingly employees (especially younger staff) want to work for a socially conscious company. So how the company “gives back” is important, not just for attracting but also retaining staff.

Also in these tough economic times, marketing increasingly plays a role in how corporates partner with NPOs.

When times are hard, CSI budgets often get slashed rather than marketing. So if a company is supporting an organisation where there’s a ‘cause-related marketing’ opportunity or potential to strengthen brand loyalty by their customers, they are likely to find the budget to spend on promoting a joint campaign, i.e. to launch and create publicity to build awareness and attract support.

FF: Who are the key influencers?

LD: In our experience long term corporate partnerships depend on the involvement, commitment and passion of the senior leadership team. No longer is it just the decision of the CSI manager or the person responsible for this portfolio.

At the Trust we find ourselves interacting less with just the CSI manager and it could now be Marketing Director; FD and CEO – everyone is involved.

When you get the senior leadership involved, especially the CEO or MD, they not only motivate staff but also potentially get their suppliers involved. A great example of this is Col’cacchio’s 10 year partnership with CHT.

Employee involvement is also a key influencer especially active engagement – i.e. staff visiting projects and getting involved and making in-kind contributions (i.e. blanket drives; etc.).

Because South Africa hasn’t seen the same success with employee ‘give-as-you-earn’ initiatives as is the case in developed North fundraising markets, finding ways to get staff actively involved is likely to be more successful, i.e. peer-to- peer fundraising challenges where a corporate team takes part in a race or challenge and fundraisers on behalf of the partner NPO. There are great team/moral building opportunities here to develop with corporate partners.

FF: What external factors are driving or influencing the shift to ‘shared value’?

LD: Increasingly we are seeing companies shifting their corporate identity to that of a Social Purpose organisation.

For example Discovery no longer brands itself as an insurance company but rather as a provider of health and wellness. For corporates it is all about innovation and how to differentiate themselves in the market and having social purpose at their core helps achieve this.

FF: So how do fundraisers get this new approach right?

LD: To be successful in obtaining corporate shared value support we need to build relationships by starting by asking our corporate partners: “What problems do they face and how can we help solve them?”. I recommend you start by asking: “Tell me about your business” so you get to understand them and their context and then you can start developing a truly ‘shared value’ partnership plan.

Since 2011, Louise has held the position of CEO of the Children’s Hospital Trust, which fundraises for paediatric healthcare through the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital and in the Western Cape. A former CEO of Greater Good, she also researched and wrote the book: “How to Help: A Guide to Worthy Causes in Durban’, a resource for private and corporate funders. In 2017 Louise won the SADAC regional and South African CEO Global Award for Africa’s most influential Woman in Business and Government.

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