Monthly Archives: September 2014

ARE SMALL CHARITIES MISSING OUT ON LONG-TERM CORPORATE PARTNERSHIPS?

A recent report by the consultancy C&E Advisory found that corporate partnerships are becoming longer and are worth more to charities. It says that 22% of partnerships are worth more than £10m, an increase of 12% over the last year.

As you might expect almost all the NGO respondents cited “access to funds” as a reason for corporate partnerships, while the top answer for corporates was “reputation and credibility”, chosen by 92%.

This may be the picture for large, national organisations and charities, such as Oxfam with Marks and Spencer, and Macmillan Cancer Support with Boots. But what does it look like for smaller, regional or local charities?

In our experience, smaller charities have a far more difficult time in finding a long-term corporate partner. Considerable time, money and effort by a fundraising and communications team can be spent securing the relationship, only to find that the support is just for twelve months. With so many other organisations in the region wanting support, the desire to choose new partners is understandable, particularly if a customer base is involved in raising money. A company’s thinking is no doubt that a new cause, a new project and a new type of fundraising event keeps customers interested and keeps them giving.

Small charities can also be victims of their size. Expectations from companies can exceed what a small team can offer and a relationship that starts very positively can dwindle and fizzle out because there aren’t enough people to carry it through.

It’s a shame, as a local business or branch of a national company could really invest in and have a long-term impact with a smaller charity. There are challenges of course. Maintaining the interest of customers, staff and the media, and continually demonstrating impact and finding the ‘new’ in an ongoing partnership, is not easy. But the benefits are huge. A company that really gets to know its charity partner and supports a project for a number of years can create a mutually beneficial and enriching experience for both sides with a fantastic outcome at the end of the relationship.

Unfortunately we’re not aware of many such partnerships. We’d love to hear of some good examples. Perhaps you work for a small charity or your company has invested time and effort in one local good cause for a number of years. Do tell us!

SCOTLAND: WHAT THE VOTE MEANS FOR CHARITY PR TEAMS

Today sees the people of Scotland decide whether they want their country to become independent. It’s a momentous day for everyone in the UK not just those north of the border. There has been a great deal of discussion and analysis about what each outcome could mean politically, financially and domestically.

Charities north of the border have recently been offered advice to engage with Scotland’s changing future in a report by nfpSynergy.

But how will the changes, whatever they’re going to be, affect public relations for national charities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland? If they have beneficiaries and supporters in Scotland any changes to policy or funding that emerge after today could affect those relationships. PR will be key in reassuring service-users and supporters, helping to maintain income streams and establishing or continuing channels of communication with decision-makers.

Relationships with the Scottish media could also change. Charities may face a greater challenge to generate interest in stories and to demonstrate their relevance to a newly independent country. What was a ‘national’ story yesterday might not be tomorrow, even though there may be quite a number of people who live there who’ll be affected. Certainly, the media agenda will be crowded for some time yet so stories will need to be strong to get cut-through, and other channels need to be considered to make sure key messages get to stakeholders.

It’s an interesting, worrying and potentially expensive time as many charitable organisations face communication challenges and possibly re-branding if the ‘yes’ vote wins out. We’re watching with interest.

SHOULD WE STILL BOTHER WITH PRESS RELEASES?

Over the summer nfpsynergy wrote an interesting blog post about press releases.

Press releases can, to some, seem rather anachronistic. Certainly our profession has been churning them out for decades. There was a time when teams of PR bods diligently photocopied on to headed paper, stapled and posted them out in neatly labelled envelopes.

Obviously things are very different now. There are many more ways to package-up and to distribute content, particularly online, in images, film and audio. Being newer, many PR and comms people prefer to develop these more interesting, richer packages for media, as well as for broader audiences.

However the journalists that nfpsynergy spoke to said they still prefer the traditional press release.

Many said they don’t have time to watch videos or listen to audio, and don’t want large image files clogging up their already overflowing in-boxes. They want to be able to quickly scan a written press release, clock the key points and contact details, and then – if they are interested in the story – they’ll delve into further content.

Which means nothing has changed. Relying on format rather than content doesn’t work. You still need a good story. You still need to write a good press release.

And you still need to recognise when in fact it’s best to work with an individual reporter on an exclusive package, rather than send round a generic press release (however well written).

In an increasingly competitive field, it’s important to get the story, the writing and the approach right.