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!