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Corporate support on the up

5 April 2022 at 3:35 pm
Danielle Kutchel
Philanthropic support given by corporates has increased dramatically in the wake of the Black Summer bushfires, as businesses recognise their place in society.

Danielle Kutchel | 5 April 2022 at 3:35 pm


Corporate support on the up
5 April 2022 at 3:35 pm

Philanthropic support given by corporates has increased dramatically in the wake of the Black Summer bushfires, as businesses recognise their place in society.

Now is the time for for-purpose organisations to engage with corporates to create key partnerships that benefit both parties.

That’s according to a new report by JBWere senior research consultant, John McLeod.

In his latest report for the financial services organisation, the Corporate Support Report, McLeod examines the growth in partnerships between the corporate sector and the for-purpose sector, and the opportunities available to each in creating partnerships of mutual benefit.

The data is promising for charities and for-purpose organisations, with the top 50 corporates for community investment in Australia collectively providing more than $1.2 billion in 2021 alone.

Philanthropic support given by corporates surged in 2020 in the wake of the Black Summer bushfires. While it was expected that this would then decline during the COVID-19 pandemic, instead corporate giving again increased as COVID fuelled community support.

“I take that as being part of this long-term trend of corporates understanding what their role is within the broader society, wanting to contribute to that and seeing benefits from it themselves,” McLeod explained.

He said a transition of sorts has taken place over the past 50 years as corporates have turned their attention to purpose and how to support the community.

“Multiple forces” have helped move corporates to this position, the report noted.

“I think it’s fascinating to see this long-term evolution and it’s hard to point to one particular thing – it’s not like there was one lightbulb moment when corporates said we have to start putting support into the community,” McLeod said, adding that academic thought, interest from shareholders in social issues and changes to the way that corporates evaluate their operations have all added to the growing interest in the for-purpose sector.

Corporates have also realised what they can offer the community, he said – from their knowledge, time and skills to practical support in food rescue or environmental sustainability.

But a partnership goes both ways, and to be successful, McLeod said for-purpose organisations should understand what they too can bring to the table.

He recommended for-purpose organisations – which are often short on resources – be realistic about what they can take on.

“One of the things we tend to advise for-purpose organisations on is to think about the right number of corporate partners. Whereas they might want to have 50 major donors, they probably should have three or four corporate partners. A corporate partnership is more demanding, so you want fewer of them,” he said.

Charities should also be clear about what their value is – including their name and reputation – and ensure that value is included in the way that they and the corporate evaluate the partnership.

The report lays out a number of other considerations that for-purpose organisations should keep in mind when considering a corporate partnership, including:

  • understanding how corporates fit and interact with government, households and the for-purpose sector;
  • understanding the industry that a particular corporate inhabits and thinking about how this influences the reasons for a partnership – for example, McLeod said, a business like Coles is likely to be more interested in food support;
  • understanding the profitability of that industry and the corporates you’re considering partnering with, as well as that company’s history of social investment;
  • considering what scale of corporate, by employee numbers, is the right fit for the partnership – especially if one of your offerings is employee engagement;
  • considering how the corporate can support you in ways other than through providing financial assistance – for example, through skills, social advocacy or goods; and
  • considering how you will manage the partnership and associated tasks like reporting and promotion.

Ultimately, partnerships between corporates and community make good business sense, McLeod said, with for-purpose organisations gaining access to skills, assets and a larger voice through partnerships, as well as potentially financial support.

“It’s a business risk for [corporates] not to understand and be involved in corporate support. For for-purpose organisations, they’re missing out on one of the largest and fastest-growing areas [of giving] if they don’t get an understanding of what this is and how they should approach it,” he said.

To view the full Corporate Support Report, visit the JBWere website.

Danielle Kutchel  |  @ProBonoNews

Danielle is a journalist specialising in disability and CALD issues, and social justice reporting. Reach her on or on Twitter @D_Kutchel.

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