“The world of corporate fundraising is an exciting place to be” Caroline Silke, Head of Corporate Fundraising, CRUK

February 10, 2015

In my view, corporate partnerships represents one of the most ambitious, dynamic and innovative areas of fundraising. I’ve worked in corporate partnerships for almost a decade – from tiny charities with no allocated corporate fundraiser right through to a team of thirty generating £20m in value every year. In recent years, there has been an evolution in the world of corporate partnerships with more brands focusing on true strategic fit and mutual benefit. This makes the world of corporate fundraising an even more exciting place to be – and indeed, in my experience it attracts ambitious, intelligent, competitive individuals from all kinds of backgrounds who want to work in this area, using their commercial skills and knowledge to advance a cause they are passionate about.

The challenges for corporate fundraisers have only grown as partnerships have become more sophisticated. There is a real lack of accurate information on the state of corporate fundraising across the sector – trends, mechanics, return on investment and so on – in a way that isn’t the case for more traditional fundraising channels. When I am questioned about industry standards and therefore my team’s performance in comparison, I can only relate anecdotal comments from my personal networks. The lack of a robust analysis of industry averages for organisations of a similar size is extremely limiting for teams when planning resource and investment levels – and projecting those ever important numbers. This doesn’t only relate to income of course but to all sorts of other key performance indicators – number of partnerships, average value, average tenure – all the things that would help fundraisers understand how they perform in the marketplace.

This isn’t made any easier by the fact that most charities report on their fundraising portfolios in different ways. What constitutes corporate fundraising to a smaller charity (payroll giving or a company taking part in events) may be measured differently in a larger charity with multiple products and income streams. And as corporate fundraisers, we can sometimes be cagey about sharing information, worried about rivals building a case to steal away valued corporate partners, especially with economic factors shrinking the charity of the year market. But a degree of transparency is essential – donors demand it, the general public demand it, and ultimately for the corporate fundraiser it will enable evidence based decisions, new insights, and increased success.

It’s for these reasons that I was delighted to be invited to sit on the Good Values and Institute of Fundraising Steering Group. I’m looking forward to the results of the study and seeing how I can use the findings both in my day job at a large charity, and as Fundraising Lead Trustee at a smaller organisation which is just starting to explore corporate partnerships. I believe the results will be beneficial to any fundraiser working in this area, whatever the size of organisation. In order to make the results meaningful and useful, we need as many corporate fundraisers as possible to contribute, so please do take twenty minutes out of your day to participate. It will be worth your while!