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Six Top Tips for Getting & Maintaining a Corporate Partnership

23 July 2013 at 11:39 am
Staff Reporter
Getting the attention of a corporate partner who can add value to your Not for Profit organisation is not an easy task, the Head of Sponsorship and Events at Westpac admits Pat Cunningham says.

Staff Reporter | 23 July 2013 at 11:39 am


Six Top Tips for Getting & Maintaining a Corporate Partnership
23 July 2013 at 11:39 am

Getting the attention of a corporate partner who can add value to your Not for Profit organisation is not an easy task, the Head of Sponsorship and Events at Westpac Pat Cunningham says.

Pat Cunningham is responsible for over 50 partnerships between Westpac and community organisations, including the 40-year partnership between Westpac and the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service.

Here he offers his top tips for making your approach, and maintaining a healthy union with your corporate partners.

1.   Do your research

An ideal corporate partner will share your passion for the community you serve. Your research will uncover if you have mutual values, shared territories, and a common demographic. Research the Board members and the brand’s reputation. Ask yourself: is this a brand with high credibility? What are the risks of partnering with this company?

Your potential corporate partners will be asking the same questions of your organisation.

2.   Activate your network

Ask your Board members, supporters, and volunteers if they can introduce you to any senior executives within your target corporates. A facilitated introduction could make it easier for you to get a meeting with the decision-makers in the organisation.

3.   Write a compelling proposal

Make it clear how your work will complement and enhance the corporate partner’s mission. Avoid sending a generic proposal to numerous organisations – it shows a lack of ambition.

Take the time to make a few phone calls and address your proposal to the correct person…or risk it getting lost in a sea of Managers. Include testimonials that speak to the outcomes and optimism that your organisation generates. Include visual representations of your work, not just a tome of words. And use the spell-check!

4.   Accept non-financial support

The passion, people, and non-financial support that a corporate can offer can be more valuable than funds, for example the digital channels and local branch counter collections that Westpac offers the Salvation Army’s Red Shield Appeal, and the free event space that Westpac provides to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

This kind of support can be more sustainable and dependable than hoping to bank big cheques year after year.

5.   Bring your Business Acumen

Feel-good stories and anecdotes will not be enough to garner a corporate’s trust and ongoing support; you will need to show evidence of your social impact. To talk with a business, you need to be able to talk business. Accountability, return on investment, and strategic planning should all be in your vocabulary when communicating with your corporate partner.

6.   Look after your relationship

A regular ‘health-check’ between partners so key staff meet periodically to discuss opportunities, goals and any problems as they arise. Strong interpersonal skills such as listening, and open and honest communication can contribute to the longevity of a partnership.

Build a phased approach to your relationship. It might start with logo association or sharing media channels, then lead to specific participation and financial goals.

But not all relationships last forever. Partnerships can cease when organisations change their strategy, or when a community organisation is looking for a different kind of support. The key is to keep talking, so you are always previewing what’s ahead.

A partnership between a corporate and a community organisation should be collaborative and mutually exciting. And in the long-term, has the potential to deliver a lot of benefits and value to the community.

For more information on strategic tools and tips for planning for your organisation, visit for a number of useful articles. Short courses are also available.

About The Davidson Institute: It is Australia's First School of Money, backed by Westpac Banking Corporation. It provides an extensive range of financial education, from free seminars to facilitated sessions on Cash Flow to Superannuation, and accredited courses in finance.

Westpac Social Sector Banking provides a customised range of banking solutions to suit Not for Profit organisations, charities, associations as well as single-interest and community groups.

For more information on Westpac Social Sector Banking, visit

Staff Reporter  |  Journalist  |  @ProBonoNews

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