Magazine article IPA Review

Community Partnerships

Magazine article IPA Review

Community Partnerships

Article excerpt


A great many pages have been written advising not-for-profit organizations on how to gain funding from corporations. Occasionally, in business magazines, articles appear advising corporations on how to handle the growing number of requests for funds that they receive. But no one, to my knowledge, has ever outlined strategies for corporations to follow in practising philanthropy in a proactive way.

Most executives view corporate giving only as a debit item in the profit and loss account, there solely as the result of unavoidable community pressure. They fail to recognize that proactive philanthropy can have benefits for their company.

The key to reconciling philanthropy with shareholders' interests is the formation of community partnerships. From such partnerships both partners can benefit: charitable institutions can grow and companies can improve productivity, build community trust to help them weather a public relations storm when it strikes, or in other ways gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

A community partnership is a close relationship between a company and a not-for-profit institution, in which the company agrees to contribute human and financial resources to the development of the institution on terms acceptable to both, so that the institution can produce better results for society. In return the institution might agree to work with the company to enhance its public image or to co-operate with the marketing of its products in ways which will not compromise the integrity of either the company or the institution.

The best way to demonstrate how community partnerships can work is through examples. One or two of those which follow are actual community partnerships; others have the potential to grow into partnerships. None is the final word. They are presented to stretch the corporate imagination. The ingenuity of people has yet to be fully exercised in this area of human endeavour. I believe that by the turn of the century, some striking community partnerships will have been implemented which will set the trend for a very innovative 21st century. I foresee a revolution in the way that business and the community relate to one another and work together for the prosperity of both. ELY CATHEDRAL: A television series produced by the BBC rated Ely Cathedral, located in the Fens, just north of the university city of Cambridge, as one of the two finest cathedrals in the world. A few years ago, Ely was seeking funds for the restoration of its magnificent fabric, which dates from Norman times. I was delighted to be entrusted with the management of the campaign.

The Jaguar Rover Company in Coventry wanted to promote its latest model Jaguar in a way that was a little different from the ordinary. So, it decided to make a generous gift to the cathedral in return for launching its new model at a special function at the cathedral. The resultant press and advertising pictures were captioned: "Two magnificent pieces of engineering". All that happened was that a few good photographs of the Jaguar were taken on the front lawn of the cathedral, with the cathedral's magnificent tower framed in the background.

It was an effective piece of marketing and both sides won. The VIPs who attended the champagne party in the grounds of the cathedral were mightily impressed too.

This isn't an example of a longterm community partnership - it was a single transaction. But, it had the potential to develop into a partnership if both parties had taken it up at the time. They should have, even though Jaguar is now owned by Ford, and Rover is a separate entity.

Incidentally, Ely, like all other cathedrals in Europe, will require funds forever for the never-ending job of restoration. Cathedrals would make ideal community partners; they provide splendid potential for promotion and marketing. …

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