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Reputation and Managing Corporate Partnerships in Charity Communications

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Amanda Azeez, Head of NSPCC & O2 Online Safety Partnership

When I spoke at the recent Women in PR event, we had a fascinating and moving discussion about the work of some of the most powerful charity/corporate partnerships in the UK and heard how these relationships are making a significant difference to people’s daily lives.  From makeovers and advice from Macmillan Cancer available within Boots stores to dieting tips from Diabetes UK/British Heart Foundation at your local Tesco.  We also heard from FleishmanHillard Fishburn how a charity partnership can also create unknown problems and issues given the recent closure of KidsCompany. Certainly at the NSPCC, corporate partnerships are an important part of our family and are relationships we take very seriously.

The NSPCC has many partnerships across the UK in four different areas – employee engagement, commercial, cause-related and strategic. And we work with many great organisations including our Charity of the Year partnership with Credit Suisse, Café Rouge and First Utility and have long standing relationships with companies like BT where we’ve worked together on ChildLine for more than 30 years.

We are moving towards having fewer, bigger and more strategic partners like O2, our most recent relationship, where it is as much about value as it is fundraising. With O2, our goal is that within three years, every family with 8-13 year olds in the UK will understand – and have regular conversations with their children – about their online world, just as they would about their day at school. To kids, online life is real life and online friends are real friends. There is no distinction. Children need their parents, teachers, and family to be just as involved in their online lives as they are in other aspects, to help keep them safe.

That’s why this partnership is so important; it is the first time we’ve worked like this and we’re really excited that together we can help parents and carers explore and understand the internet, as kids know it. Together we’re offering an Online Safety helpline that parents can call if they want advice or are worried, running parent workshops in schools and have just launched a Net Aware app that offers information on many social media sites.

Imagine the power we have together through O2’s 478 stores, more than 8,000 staff and in excess of 20 million customers coupled with the NSPCC’s 40 service centres across the country, 638,000 supporters, 3,000 volunteers and 1,800 staff.  We now have someone on every high street in every community who will be able to have a helpful and supportive conversation with parents about their child’s safety online.

There are many ways to make a partnership work, but it has to be built on trust and a very clear idea of what both charity and company will offer and provide. My top tip for any new commercial/charity partnership is to see it a bit like your new boyfriend or girlfriend moving in for the first time…

You find out you do things differently and have varying views of the relationship at the beginning.  But the best ones are always going to work if you are open, honest, transparent and share the same values and goals – and have fun together!


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