Top five tips on creating effective partnerships to strengthen your CSR programme

When building a CSR programme, a number of questions could run through your mind; will this appeal to people? am I doing this right? how can I learn more about a trend in CSR?

The questions are endless but have no fear; partnerships are here to save the day!

Partnerships open up doors to knowledge, resource and sharing. They present a fantastic opportunity to work collaboratively with charities, clients and even your competitors in order to reach a common goal. This is refreshing because partnerships can enable your CSR programmes to appeal to people and most importantly, put you in a position to learn more.

So, how do you build effective partnerships in order to strengthen your CSR programme? 

1. Ask around 

Ask your counterparts at other organisations about their experiences working with partners that you are keen to collaborate with. This will give you an opportunity to learn from their experiences.

2. Think smart

Ask around but don’t partner with an organisation just because your counterparts in other businesses are! Make sure you select partners that will enable you to build a programme that appeal to your people. You may find that the most popular partners in your industry aren’t appropriate for the culture of your organisation. There is probably a more suitable partner out there waiting on your email.

Once you identify a partner:

3. Be crystal clear on your expectations

You may find that your partner’s culture and choice of language is different. This may mean that your partners communicate differently so be clear on your needs to avoid confusion. It is also important to give your partner the opportunity to propose alternative approaches to things if they do not have enough capacity or resource – this will enable both parties to identify a timeline that works for everybody involved. Once expectations are clear and timelines have been agreed, trust your partner – they are experts in their specialism.

4. Be a cheerful giver

When working with charities, NGOs and organisations that don’t have as much resource as your own, do not be afraid to offer your partner(s) access to the resources you have. For example, if your organisation facilitates training focused on how to manage budgets and you are aware that your partner needs some support in this area, speak to the powers that be and find out if that training can be made available to your partner. Don’t just take, give and share!

5. Make time to review your partnerships regularly

If things are going well, make sure you build on your success and identify ways to leverage your triumphs with your partner. Tell your major stakeholders about the victories and this should encourage them to be more engaged. However, reviews don’t always go well – if your partnership is proving not to be fruitful, don’t be afraid to say goodbye! Explore your options and identify a new partner to work with if needs be.

The key to successfully using these five top tips is remembering that one size does not fit all and that you must adapt these guidelines to the culture of your organisation. The most successful CSR programmes are a reflection of their organisation’s values.

Now, go forth and partner!


About the author

Honey Sanusi joined Herbert Smith Freehills in  September 2013 working across  the firm’s community investment and diversity  & inclusion programmes. In January 2015, Honey began to manage the community investment programme across UK, US, EMEA  and India with a major focus on  education, social inclusion and corporate philanthropy. She has an honours degree in Social Policy from the University of Kent.

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