whatCharity wishes to continue sharing insights and tips on charity – company collaborations. We do this in order to help bridge the gap that was revealed in our survey last year between corporate giving and grassroots charities. This week, we’re interviewing Cherryl Martin, a marketing, communications and business operations leader from Wonderland Marketing and an experienced charity trustee.
Cherryl, how would you define the role of corporate support on smaller, local charities or charities in general? Are things changing in any way?
Smaller, particularly local, charities have one of the most important roles to play in the economy. They provide much-needed services, care
It would seem obvious that corporates, would be keen to partner with these progressive organisations . Smaller charities can offer high levels of local knowledge, delivery flexibility and targeted beneficiary outcomes that would be the envy of many larger, even national organisations.
However, it can be quite difficult for charities to get the foot in the door of a corporate partner. It takes quite a long-term, strategic approach to identify just the right points of entry, develop compelling messaging, navigate the landscape of internal influencers and pitch the correct sorts of mutually-beneficial outcomes that building strong corporate partnerships require.
In terms of companies allocation of resources to charities, what kind of matchmaking advice you would give as a corporate professional and a trustee and active supporter of small charities?
Here’s where my bias as a marketing professional may shine out – to charities, the most important advice I can offer is to say “know your customer!” Know what makes your target partner tick from a vision, values and commercial priorities standpoint. And where your audiences and frameworks align. Pick and choose carefully and then invest in
And for companies
The charity HAY where you are a trustee is building a corporate strategy to gain more volunteers and money. What are the key findings of your research and strategic decisions you have made based on those findings? How do you intend to find your perfect matches?
HAY’s research around corporate CSR strategy tells a really interesting story. We have encountered that there really is no one way to do corporate social responsibility, which represents challenges for charities.
In yet other organisations, we find named CSR professionals with departments, budgets and mandates all their own. And lastly, but certainly not least, a model we see quite a lot, particularly among global corporates is a mix of all of the above, e.g., employee-led, foundation-led and department-led programming, with marketing, HR and operational groups frequently splitting the priorities, funding and initiatives amongst themselves.
As a result of this research and understanding, HAY
What role does
digitalisation play in helping companies and charities match with each other and what are the elements of the collaboration that need face to face or of effort? other kind
Digitisation makes enormous mountains of information accessible, categorisable and like-for-like comparable. That represents huge benefits for both charities and corporates. But electronic information is only as good as your ability to make meaning of the data. E.g. looking to find a partner in particular type and geographical location can be a challenge.
I’m a huge proponent of using data resources to narrow and focus your investigative activities and to facilitate the early stages of matchmaking. That’s where offerings like WhatCharity and then later, collaboration and face to face efforts, come into play. WhatCharity makes it possible to get beneath the very uppermost layer of charity and company data. And it does so with the kind of search functionality, data visualisation tools and multi-media features that substantially differentiate it from other platforms. It works for HAY!
As we know, 91% of companies collaborate with charities with the intention of doing good, but also with the hope of building their brand and helping their employees to engage with their workplace better. What is your advice to charities to ensure they help meet these needs?
It is important for charities to take the time, care and intention to very carefully identify how each of corporate supporters will best “find their way” into the charity story and become part of our narrative of success, so to speak. It also means that board members could be much more active in this process than might traditionally be expected as they can provide different type of managerial, professional and local knowledge and support as an extended team.
As an example I wish to share a success story of HAY and GSK collaboration. We partner with GSK on an Orange Day of service where the employee-led effort benefits HAY’s eco-therapy allotment, which in turn supports our all-ages community BBQ days – among our most popular local outreach programmes. Well-attended by GSK volunteers and covered very positively by local press, we have been able to achieve broader visibility for both HAY and GSK, on a project closely aligned with their core company values.
What’s more important for charities – money or volunteers, or both?
This is a real Scylla and Charybdis, chicken and egg, rock and a hard place type of question though.
Volunteer support is the lifeblood of many small charities, HAY included – enabling us to punch well above our weight in terms of skilled inputs, community engagement and delivery potentials. But we all know the kind of financial pressures small charities are under to constantly do more with less, particularly as year-over-year what were once “stable” funding sources can shift focus, reduce in capacity or dry up entirely.
So monetary resource is key to securing not only today’s outcomes – but also to being able to plan effectively for tomorrow’s. Robust, vigorous and reliable annual, 3-year or 5-year plans which can incorporate all asset categories (financial, human, operational, etc.) really make all the difference between “good” and “outstanding” charity performance.
For HAY, our young people deserve nothing less than outstanding. So I’d say both, definitely both. Money AND volunteers.
Give examples of what kind of contributions in terms of funding, getting volunteers, skills
and advisors, would help your size of small charity and what difference could be made?
Volunteers are also key to HAY’s success. For example, we’ve consistently attracted highly skilled volunteers who are advanced degree candidates in youth work and/or the social sciences. We continue to face a shortage of talented volunteers in critical areas like social media management, PR/journalism and fundraising.
Funding is a very clear priority for us as well. Issues facing young people, such as the dramatic increase in knife crime is not a front page media story for us – it’s a real and present threat and we empower our young people to address by enhancing their decision-making skills, encouraging them to take responsibility for their life choices and helping them to grow personal resilience.
We are also seeking some product and service donations, so, on that note – if you’re reading this, log on to your whatCharity account, look us up and get involved with HAY’s work. Start changing lives today.
Cherryl Martin is an award-winning marketing, comms and business operations leader with 20+ years management experience working around the globe for
Now a business owner in her own right at Wonderland Marketing, Cherryl previously held senior corporate roles for FTSE 100 organisations such as Barclays, Pearsons, Informa, MMC/Marsh & McLennan, Lehman Brothers and Viacom.
A BA (Hons) graduate of Yale University, Cherryl received her postgraduate credentials in Advertising and Marketing from New York University and is a Fellow of the Institute of Data and Marketing (IDM).
A native New Yorker, Cherryl is a long-term Trustee of HAY who – with husband Paul and miniature schnauzer Finn – now proudly calls West London home.
Hounslow Action for Youth Association (HAY) is a charity dedicated to helping vulnerable children and young people reach their full potential. It also aims to help the local community come together in a safe, caring environment.
Since it was established in 1986, HAY has worked tirelessly to support the many children and young people in the London Borough of Hounslow who
Sadly Hounslow is fraught with social and economic disadvantage. In fact, using measures of income, employment, health, education, crime, barriers to housing and services, plus assessments of the living environment, the
For local young people, that means anti-social
And, without the right support, many children and young people in Hounslow are at risk of heading down the wrong path in life.