When presenting your charity’s case in front of a panel of potential corporate partners, it can go one of two ways. Fortunately, rather than leaving it up to fate, Amber Madden, Corporate Partnerships New Business Manager at Rays of Sunshine children’s charity, has three top tips to share with you ahead of your pitch day…
1. Avoid the ‘it’s all about us’ trap
The majority of today’s successful corporate world is philanthropic, but why? Of course, supporting good causes gives everyone that warm fuzzy feeling, however, it is often the case that corporate’s engage with charities to benefit themselves. Whether this is to improve their bottom line or employee retention, create great PR, or to impress their customers – ultimately, the panel are there thinking about the benefits to their company.
Doing your research is imperative, find out what they are looking for and leverage your resources; be it your celebrity ambassadors, community ‘footprint’, PR and social coverage, volunteering opportunities or simply your undeniable synergy. Highlight their goals and objectives and clearly define, how you are going to help them achieve these.
To effectively engage with a corporate, you need to understand their world, their industry, their corporate culture and values; both their CSR and business goals/objectives. Don’t use charity jargon, use their language, including quotes from their website if you can. Speak to them in a tone and manner that resonates with them. Make them feel that you understand who they are, how they operate and are essentially already a member of the team; one of them. Demonstrate that you have experience within their sector and are fully qualified to manage, deliver and exceed the partnership targets. Do some online research, get to know their employees and cultivate a relationship with their CSR team to get ‘the inside scoop’. Finally, ensure your pitch clearly and succinctly outlines what THEY will gain out of being in a partnership with you.
Ask yourself and your team the simple question; what can we do to be different and stand out? Start the pitch as you mean to go on and directly engage with your audience, whether that’s by asking them questions or by giving them a hands-on task. Where you can, be creative and make your audience a part of your pitch. Nobody enjoys being lectured to, especially by the 6th or 7th charity of the day – think about making it fun!
When it comes to proposing ideas for employee engagement or the launch of the partnership, think outside of the box. What do you think their employees would enjoy taking part in? We all love a traditional bake sale, dress down day or 5k run, but to stand out from the crowd, this lack of innovation will simply not cut it. For example; a great partnership proposal for Rays of Sunshine (the charity I work for) and Build-A-Bear; would be to host live celebrity wishes in their stores. This not only engages their employees, allowing them to see first-hand the sheer magic of a wish, but will also provide them with great press/social coverage and drive their consumer engagement. It’s a simple win-win.
3. Make it memorable
To be the winner, they have to remember you. Heather Andrew, the CEO of Neuro Insight, states that there are three key drivers for memory and, in turn, motivators for behavior. If you can flawlessly encompass these within your pitch, you are on to a winner:
Relevance – help them to step into the shoes of your beneficiary. A good example of this is Alzheimer’s Research UK #sharetheorange campaign in which they ask the panel to pass round an orange before revealing that the weight of an orange is how much mass your brain loses to Alzheimer’s.
Narrative – take the committee on the journey of one of your beneficiaries or your cause at its fundamental level – the people, animals, environment or community that your charity and the partnership will make a difference too. One of the most effective storytelling mediums is film – this doesn’t always need a big budget, just one of your beneficiaries speaking from the heart.
Emotion – Emotions are scientifically proven to drive decisions and action, whether that be sadness, happiness or anger. This is going to be the driving force that makes the panel remember your charity during their ‘pitch fatigue’. Providing a ‘heart-wrenching’ emotive story is valuable, but please follow up with a solution and how, with their help, this solution will come to fruition– the impact of the partnership on your beneficiaries, not simply the money you are looking to raise. Ensure that your call to action is simple and clear. If your pitch evokes a strong enough emotion, the panel will respond to your call and, ultimately, when the time comes to make the final decision, the decision will be you.
Written by Amber Madden, Corporate Partnerships New Business Manager, Rays of Sunshine