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Four ways sport for development programmes can build smart corporate partnerships


Four ways sport for development programmes can build smart corporate partnerships

The best business – charity collaborations deliver clearly outlined social and commercial goals, says Tom Pitchon.

The line between the non-profit and private sectors is softening. Businesses now account for social and environmental impact, and charities market and sell their services in an increasingly competitive space. This creates huge opportunities for mutual sharing of assets across sectors.

We need a new approach to business-charity collaboration that disrupts the ‘giver/receiver’ dynamic by delivering clearly outlined social and commercial returns. Here are four things sport for development programmes can do to build smart corporate partnerships:

1. Figure out how your programme can use the inspirational power of grassroots sport to drive value in a business
Non-profits create social impact. Businesses generate profits. The best collaborations show a clear understanding of the social and commercial impact that can be generated by working together.

Sport for development programmes can provide great content for cause marketing as well as opportunities for employee engagement and team building. Take Sony. They partnered with streetfootballworld to deliver a graduate training programme that gets new recruits, putting business skills into practice with sport for development programmes worldwide.

The programme channels needed expertise into local communities while boosting graduate leadership skills and delivering the highest graduate-retention rate in Sony’s history.

2. Move beyond cash
Yes, money matters – but don’t stop there. Try to get a business working actively with you, rather than just paying you to deliver. Think about its products, expertise, communications platforms, networks and intellectual property. This can boost social impact while deepening the ripple effect and buy-in across the company.

3. Get creative
The more innovative your collaboration is, the more likely it is to stand out and last. For example, the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation delivered a programme for a major telephone company in 2010, which involved customers nominating local community heroes through SMS, with the winners flying to South Africa for a 10-day volunteering programme.

This created content for a Facebook video (made by the telephone company) that provided great positioning in the year of the football World Cup in South Africa and won an industry marketing award. Getting a business innovating with you is a brilliant way to boost the collaboration’s impact and sustainability.

4. Find a snug fit
Target businesses that are aligned with your values and cause. The synergy could come from a set of corporate values (for example, Google’s promise to "do no evil" could fit with charities seeking to prevent human rights abuses), from a company’s capabilities (e.g. Amazon’s distribution networks supporting a disaster relief effort) or from a natural brand alignment (Nike partnering with a charity combatting sedentary living, for example). Where synergy comes from doesn’t matter. What’s important is that it’s powerful and clearly articulated.

Commercial gain can be illegitimate (greenwashing, for example) or legitimate. Sport for development programmes that can help businesses make money legitimately by resourcing their social missions will better position themselves for an era in which traditional grant funding is receding and the divides between the sectors are softening.

Tom Pitchon is head of programmes at Laureus Sport for Good Foundation.


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Tom Pitchon


Monday, April 29, 2013 - 23:00