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How to use corporate partnerships to build your individual fundraising

Corporate partnerships specialists Linda Garnett and Sharon Dann help organisations think more broadly than corporate philanthropy, and show you how to grow individual fundraising with partners.

Charities often assume that corporate partnerships are all about a large cheque. But focusing on partnerships for just corporate philanthropy is like going on a luxury cruise and bringing your own food, because you didn’t ask if the full buffet was included. You could be missing out on a ton of value for your charity if you don’t fully exploit the full potential of partnerships.

Partnerships can make a transformational difference to your individual fundraising, particularly for small charities.

Let’s consider the essential elements for individual fundraising and how a partnership can make a big difference to success.


How do you get new donors? You can buy or rent donor lists for about 50c per name and your response rate to a direct mail is likely to be single digits at best. Not to mention the costs, which range from $2-3 for a basic mail out to $5+ for a premium pack.

Tapping into a corporate partner’s employee, customer and supplier base will have the advantage of a warm introduction and lower rates of attrition. Converting even a small percentage to regular donors will do wonders for your database, not to mention the likely matched donation through workplace giving.

You can also leverage the wealth of knowledge that a corporate has about its own audience, including demographics and behaviours. It will help you create new activations or tailor your own messaging to new donors to inspire their support.


Corporate partners are a valuable source of new and cheaper (or free) channels to enhance a charity’s in-house capabilities. Over and above the typical DMs or social media, a partner can provide creative ways to activate customers and new donors. These can be retail donation points, marketing, promotions or product-based channels.

When the Nepal earthquake struck, Intrepid Travel worked with Plan International to mobilise all of their corporate channels to launch eDMs, social media donations, PR and matched staff giving. It was a worldwide audience that Plan couldn’t possibly have reached alone. The initial effort raised over $400,000 and positioned Plan strongly to tap into the new donors for their second wave of fundraising for the recovery phase.

In the retail sector, JB Hi-Fi’s PlayAir partnership with The Song Room allows customers to make a donation to the charity through buying an ‘air instrument’ in every store nationally.

Partnerships have helped these charities access new audiences and donors that they could not have achieved through traditional acquisition. Leveraging corporate partner relationships is the key.


Lead generation is vital to charities to help build their database and create new donor possibilities, but it’s also expensive to acquire new donors. Charities often achieved new leads with petitions or surveys that encourage people to register using their emails. However, lead generation can be achieved through a corporate partner campaign.

At the 2016 Australian Open, ANZ launched their #HeadbandforGood campaign with World Vision. ANZ made a $2 donation for every selfie using the hashtag, providing not only income but a large-scale audience for the charity. World Vision benefited from a new social media following and heaps of new leads to convert to donors.

Thoughtful lead generation combined with a call to action that allows harvesting of data will allow your charity to maximise the opportunity provided by corporate partner campaigns and activations.

If your charity would like to leverage the full value of a corporate partnership, then think beyond corporate philanthropy and just a cheque to fund your programs. A deeper relationship with a corporate partner will help you unlock the untapped potential of the partnership to grow and sustain your individual giving.



  1. Ask yourself the question: What else can we do with a corporate partner? Think beyond a donation.
  2. Map out your goals in individual fundraising and see how a partner can help you achieve them.
  3. Don’t forget the win-win for the corporate – more engaged customers, suppliers and staff will improve the corporate’s bottom line.

Linda Garnett and Sharon Dann are specialist business members of The Xfactor Collective – an Australian-first community comprising highly experienced and pre-vetted specialist businesses across 300+ areas of specialisation.

The Collective makes it easier for organisation leaders to connect quickly and easily with specialist support through a sector-first helpdesk service, and also a Platform to search/connect with specialists.

Need help in your organisation? We run the sector’s first Specialist triage support service (our CONCIERGE) where we can help you find support from a range of services and solutions.


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