Think HBR

The good business of strategic partnerships with your local charity

Grace McClean
NFP Connect
I remember once going to a networking event, introducing myself as a fundraiser and as I was explaining the organisation’s name, the person I was talking to literally about turned on me in mid conversation and walked away. It wasn’t the first or last time, but probably the most brutal. I understood though, in their mind I had nothing to offer, they assumed I wanted to ‘take’ their money.
It would also happen when I would call people to thank them for their donation, “Hello, this is Grace from such and such organisation” and before I could say “thank you for your donation”, they would cut me off with “oh I already have my charities that I give to”. I would politely interrupt and say “wait, wait, I’m just calling to say thank you because we are one of those charities”. It was then they would surprisingly accept a personalised thank you very much call and here’s what it’s done for our organisation. What has happened that we’re cutting each other off to say thank you?
Why is there a perception that charities just take and have nothing to offer?
To answer those questions I might give an insight into the life of a fundraiser/not for profit worker in a regional area. When I was working as a fundraiser I was one person that had 5 different roles at the one time - Donor Management, Event Management, Corporate Relationships, PR &Marketing and even a construction manager on various office builds. I recently interviewed over 30 individuals working for local charities in our community and on average they have up to 7 different roles, with a job description that literally says ‘must be open to work overtime and weekends'. 
A lot of them faced an incredible feeling of isolation and struggle to get anything done well, and, if they succeed they get a bigger target with the same or less budget. Charities have so much to offer organisations and organisations have so much to offer charities but it’s seems to be in the all too hard basket. Some charities don’t know how to offer things to organisations, basically because they’ve never had to, we’ve stuck together in regional areas, but all that has changed.
There is a huge shift that’s come with the way charities are having to run and our local charities are getting drowned out by larger national organisations simply because they know how to do better business. Larger organisations with no local relationships are getting into services where they’ve never been before because it’s good business. Our local charities are struggling to keep up, but that can all change with a little advice and support.
When an organisation aligns itself with a charity and when that charity has a good partnership, both organisations and their staff benefit. Good relationships are key to good business. A good partnership can boost your company’s sales, reputation and staff morale, and that feeds into the charities they support.
You just have to look at great ongoing multifaceted partnerships like Peoplefusion with Camp Quality, DFK Crosbie with Hunter Children’s Hospital, Hunter Water with Leukaemia Foundation and Sparke Helmore with HMRI.
Local strategic partnerships are beneficial to the success of regional business for both parties. They help build sales, morale, and assist a local organisation do better business. I know the partnerships that I had whilst working for a charity helped both my organisation and the companies grow from strength to strength. It was the reason I started NFP Connect. Not all local not for profits or organisations have the ability to build those relationships and I believe that by helping to build mutually beneficial bridges between an organisation and local charity, we keep local services local for those who need it most….. you and me.
If you would like to discuss how your organisation can set up strategic partnerships with local charities that align with your staff and organisation’s values please don’t hesitate to contact me. 
For further information contact Grace on 0406 494 424, email or visit
Grace McLean2 Grace McLean
Grace McLean has dedicated her career to working within not-for-profit (NFP) and charities. With ten years of fundraising and building community connections under her belt, Grace realised there was a gap between how charities, business and community talk to each other and in 2015 established NFP Connect, a regional model to fill the disconnected gap.  NFP Connect, an organisation that supports charities to work smarter with businesses through leadership and education and work with businesses and the community for mutually beneficial partnerships that grow the community. Grace was named Lake Macquarie - Local Woman of the Year 2016,  Citizen of the Year 2015 and BGC Young Person of the Year 2014 for her work within the NFP sector.