Community partnerships are agreements (most frequently formal) between a business and an NPO for the business to give either funds, management time and capability, workplace volunteers (or all of these) to support the NPO realise its objectives or to deliver a jointly agreed objective. Partnerships of this nature require mutual obligation and most frequently require the business and the NPO to apply formal protocols and organisational capability to steward the relationship between the two parties.
Large business giving through philanthropy and strategic philanthropy has moved more towards allocating money, management time, workplace volunteers and other resources to community partnerships. Community partnerships accounted for 69% of the total value of large business giving ($6.2 billion).
SMEs did most of their giving through donations and community sponsorships, which tended to be transactional and demanded minimal management time. Some 18% of SME giving was through community partnerships ($1.6 billion), which typically sought to generate a social impact and required more management time and resources. While SMEs were broadening their giving to support community partnerships, most mid-tier businesses and almost all corporations were seeking to manage a portfolio of giving vehicles as part of their corporate strategy.
Twenty-two per cent of charities surveyed reported being currently involved in at least one partnership with business. The most common number of partnerships was one per organisation, though high numbers for some respondents increased the mean number to five. The highest reported number of partnerships for any one organisation was 100. Of those charities reporting involvement in partnerships, nearly half were involved with 2–5 partnerships. Only 9% were involved in 10 or more partnerships.
Just as large businesses reported an increase in partnerships, NPOs similarly were working towards more partnerships with businesses. Charities reported a range of benefits from their most significant community business partnership. Contributions of services and promoting the charity were the primary benefits identified by respondents, followed by monetary contributions.
Business executives indicated that most community partnerships included performance targets and indicators to assess if partnership investment and activity were making progress towards a partnership’s agreed objectives. This research also found that in corporations, considerable effort is applied to aligning workplace volunteering and some of the focus of workplace giving to corporate community partnerships. The rationale for this is to provide partnerships with more resources to maximise the opportunities to generate social impact (to ‘make a difference’).
The larger the business, the more community partnerships the enterprise tended to enter and manage. CEOs and senior managers reported that they undertook a smaller number of partnerships, each operating over a longer period and to which they allocated more resources. The strategic rationale for this was that such partnerships maximised the potential to generate beneficial social impact. This is consistent with the results from the charities survey where organisations with at least one paid staff member were more likely to be involved in a partnership that those run entirely on volunteers. Nearly one-fifth of charities that did not engage in partnerships identified a lack of staff or financial resources as the reason for not being involved. Interestingly, most respondents were open to business partnerships but viewed the barriers to doing so as prohibitive for various reasons, including: inability to match business’ priorities with their own; a lack of resources; or a lack of interest from business despite efforts to engage.
To read the full reports and factsheets, go to https://www.communitybusinesspartnership.gov.au/about/research-projects/giving-australia-2016/