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Charity partnerships – time for a shake up?

At a time of year when many businesses are considering who to support as their charity partner next year, one charity trustee has called for a rethink as to how good causes are selected.

“With so many charities to choose from, many companies invite nominations and then have a staff vote, which is a great way of getting everyone involved and ensuring that people subsequently get behind their chosen charity”, says Simon Colson, a trustee of Birmingham based national charity, Children’s Liver Disease Foundation .

“Having worked in the financial services industry for many years, I have seen the benefits this brings and have long been an advocate of this approach. Now I am involved in the charity sector, however, I can see that finding corporate partnerships presents real challenges for smaller and lesser known charities.

“If a charity doesn’t have a high profile to begin with, they are far less likely to get the chance to compete and show their worth. But from a company point of view, it’s not an advantage to repeatedly choose the same well-known causes as there is a danger that momentum and enthusiasm can be lost.”

Simon believes that a slightly different approach could widen the pool of prospective nominees.

“Companies can introduce a ‘wild card’ charity into each nomination process; or staff could be invited to vote for a theme (e.g. the environment or medical research) rather than a specific charity and, based on the results, qualifying charities could be invited to tender.

“The benefits to businesses of introducing a new and maybe previously unknown charity are clear. Staff know they are supporting a cause which is often overlooked and have the satisfaction of making a big impact on a smaller charity where the results can be very tangible.”

Supporting a smaller charity is an approach which has been successfully adopted by law firm, Mills & Reeve LLP, who feel that it allows staff to develop a closer relationship with the cause concerned. as partner, Dawn Braithwaite explains:

“It gives us a chance to find organisations who are doing fantastic work but going under the radar as they don’t have large machinery to give them publicity”, says partner, Dawn Braithwaite. “It also expands the way in which we can support such charities with simple things such as offering meeting rooms or helping with fundraising activities.”

“The simple message is that when your business is considering its next charity of the year, just pause for a moment,” says Simon. “The answer may not be as obvious as you think.”

For more information on CLDF visit

Picture: Simon Colson

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