As more small businesses and startups look to get involved with charities, charity business partnerships are becoming more than just a tick-box exercise with a simple financial donation.
Charities and startups can both gain real value from working together. Your startup can benefit from greater employee satisfaction and an improved brand image, while you can offer skills and networks that will be truly valuable to the charity.
Here’s an overview of how your startup can get involved with a charity and develop a successful partnership.
A quick definition of charity and business partnerships
Traditionally, partnerships between charities and businesses have often been limited to the occasional donation or annual fundraising events from large corporate companies. This is good publicity for the company, and charities can always use financial support, but it doesn’t provide any long-term benefits for either side.
In recent years, however, there’s been a trend towards more mutually beneficial partnerships. Business and charities are now more inclined to form long-lasting partnerships where they work together on projects, regular events and other activities, that offer sustainable contributions.
It’s now viewed as more of an alliance, with both sides working together, in line with their mutual values and goals to make a real difference.
Why should your business work with a charity?
Amongst all the demands and hurdles of establishing a business, working with a charity might not seem like a priority for a startup. But it’s not just an opportunity to do some good in the world, there are a number of benefits for your business, and it provides far more than just financial value to the charity.
Setting up a partnership with a charity early on in your startup can really help to establish and develop your brand image. It will develop goodwill with your customers and help your business seem more relatable.
You’ll be able to define your startup’s values, and demonstrate that you follow through on them. Customers will connect more with your brand if they can see that your values and actions align with their own ideals.
Working with a charity also has some significant benefits for your employees, it can help improve mental health and also provide new skills and experiences that you can use within your startup. Happy employees can be great advocates for your startup, and charitable projects will often provide a good opportunity for purposeful, team-building activities.
Giving your employees the opportunity to contribute towards charitable organisations can be a great benefit to mention when recruiting new staff, and it helps with employee retention.
On top of that, working with a charity can increase the visibility of your startup. The charity you choose to work with is likely to share the projects, fundraising activities and outcomes with their followers or members. This could be a large network of people that your startup might not otherwise be able to reach out to.
Tips on choosing a charity partnership for your startup
Once you’ve decided you want to work with a charity, it’s important to find the right one that fits with your startup so that it can be a long-term partnership that reflects positively on your business.
To form a truly successful partnership you’ll need to find an organisation that is relevant and appropriate for your startup in some way. It could be a charity that’s related to your industry, or that shares some mutual goals with your business.
You could choose a charity that’s working within your local area, which could be a great way to establish yourself and build connections within the community. Alternatively, it could be a cause that someone in your startup has a personal connection with.
Choosing a charity that fits well with your startup will help ensure a long-lasting, productive partnership. You’ll be able to really make a difference for them, and it will help motivate you and your employees.
It’s important that you can work with a charity and understand the strengths and skills that both sides have and come up with a strategy that helps the charity in a constructive, sustainable way. There’s no benefit in quickly picking a charity to work with to discover you can’t actually contribute anything of value, or that none of your employees understand why you’re working with them.
You need to clearly define your relationship with the charity and set out your expectations from both sides at the very beginning. The best way to do this is to map out how you’ll be working with them, so that it’s completely transparent what you’re expecting from them and what they want from you.
It’s also really crucial to fully investigate the charity you decide on. You need to understand exactly what they do, and how they will use the resources or funds that you contribute. If there are any questions about how the charity operates, or negative publicity, it will reflect badly on your startup.
How to come up with charity business ideas to work on
Once you’ve decided on a charity to work with, you’ll need to spend some time considering the best way to contribute. In a long term partnership with a charity, you’ll end up working together in many different ways.
Some of the most straightforward ways are fundraising events within your startup, collecting donations from your employees, or giving employees a certain amount of time to volunteer for the charity. While these are beneficial to the charity, and will have a positive impact on your startup, there are ways you can be much more involved with an even greater impact.
The best way to come up with an idea for your charity business partnership is to look at the skills, products and experience that your startup has to offer, and ways in which these will benefit the charity.
Your business can create something new for the charity
Take some time to think about how your startup could create a product or service that relates to your chosen charity, or something that could benefit them, and then donate a portion of the profits.
The product doesn’t have to be completely unique or innovative, it just needs to promote or help the charity’s cause.
For example, if you’re working with an environmental charity you could create a version of your product made completely from recycled or sustainable materials and donate the profits to the charity.
Provide your products or services to the charity
If your startup’s products or services could be relevant or useful to a charity then you could offer them as a donation.
This is a simple way of contributing that can offer a lot of benefits to the charity. For example, if you sell products for children, you could partner with a children’s charity and provide them with your products to use with the children they help. If you’re in the food industry then you could find a way to donate food to a homeless charity.
Create something in partnership with the charity
Charity business ideas don’t need to just be about what you can give to the charity. They’ll have skills and experience in areas that you won’t so you could work together to create products or services that are mutually beneficial.
You could set up workshops or events that are relevant to your customers, but with expert insights from the charity. A mental health charity could offer advice that can be tailored to your industry and shared with customers. This would promote the charity, and you charge for the event or encourage donations directly to the charity.
Offer the charity access to your business’s network
Your contribution to charity can be way more than financial or physical donations. Many charities are operating on limited resources, so they could benefit from access to a businesses network, resources and expertise.
Something as simple as mentioning the charity in communications with your customers or clients will raise awareness. But you could also volunteer your employees’ skills such as marketing, business development, or finances that will be really valuable to a charity.
Working with a charity is tax-deductible for businesses
One last thing to consider about getting involved with a charity — it’s tax-deductible. If your startup is registered as a limited company, then you’ll pay less Corporation Tax for giving to charity. If you give things like money, equipment, employees (on secondment) or sponsorship payments you can claim tax relief by deducting the value of donations from your business profits before paint tax.
These are just some of the ways that your startup can get involved with a charity, there are plenty of opportunities for you to utilise your skills, experience, and network to make a real difference. And it’s important to remember the benefits of working with a charity, even as a small startup, it can help you to build a better business and contribute to your long term goals.