1. Should charities factor story gathering into corporate partnership budgets?

    Earlier this month I attended a meeting of the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s charity interest group. The subject was on successful corporate partnerships and the evening focused on the partnership between Barclays and UNICEF.

    The really impressive Building Young Futures programme helps to tackle youth unemployment in six countries by developing skills, knowledge and confidence. It is part of Five Million Young Futures, which is a commitment from Barclays to, through a number of different partners, help five million disadvantaged young people by 2015. Barclays will be investing a further £5m in this wider programme in the next two years – a budget to make the eyes of the average charity fundraiser water!

    One of the points that Paulette Cohen, Head of Global Programmes at Barclays, made was that many people do not know about their community investment work and that Barclays relies on its partnerships to publicise this work. I caught up with her briefly after the talk and asked her how important the impact stories were to Barclays and whether they invest in story gathering. She told me that Barclays relies on its partners for the story gathering.

    Charities shouldn’t underestimate the value of the human interest stories that they have at their fingertips to their corporate partners. When a business is trying to explain its corporate social responsibility to audiences that do not necessarily understand the complexities of international development or social change programmes, a real life story can be a shortcut to inform, inspire and communicate impact.

    We have worked with VSO to capture stories about its involvement with the Cocoa Life programme in Ghana. When Mondelez announced a $400 million investment in cocoa farms last autumn our photographs were used. We later advised a freelance film crew from the US who were visiting Ghana on what to expect from the trip. The assets VSO could provide and the insights of its story gathering teams were of real value to the business.

    But story gathering is an investment, especially if the work is an expensive flight away. Should the cost of this activity be factored into the partnership budget from the outset? We think so. If the people that charities can provide access to are important to a business and they need the stories to engage their stakeholders, promote their business sustainability activities and showcase their impact, then a budget line for this would be a legitimate aspect of the programme reporting work.

    Get in touch if you would like us to help you gather stories about your corporate partnership or prepare a story gathering budget line for a proposal.

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