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Getting the most out of a corporate partnership

Getting the most out of a corporate partnership

Housebuilder Miller Homes recently partnered with Habitat for Humanity (HFHGB) to raise money for the global development charity’s Hope Builders campaign. HFHGB provides effective housing solutions to help lift some of the poorest and most vulnerable people around the world out of poverty.    

The initial fundraising target of raising £100,000 within 12 months was smashed four months early, with the final total standing at over £228,000. This could be enough to build over 75 houses, providing a great many families with a safe, secure and decent place to call home.

During the partnership Miller Homes also sponsored a team of employees, from a variety of roles across the business, to take part in a Global Village volunteer build in Malawi. During the trip they experienced the impact of their support by building new homes for orphans and vulnerable children.

The volunteer housebuilders, including Chief Executive Chris Endsor, also achieved a record result by building four houses instead of the three initially planned – a first for a Habitat build in Malawi.

These outstanding achievements prove that when a partnership is set up for success, the results are worth their weight in gold.

Reviewing the collaboration with Miller Homes, Tum Kazunga, Head of Income Generation for HFHGB, has been examining what it was that made this project such a success.

Engage at the top

Often, charities seek to build their primary relationship with the human resources manager or corporate social responsibility department. While it is important to make those connections, ensuring the head of the organisation is fully supportive and passionate about the link can reap untold rewards.

“The partnership with HFHGB worked so well because it was clearly led from the top,” explained Tum.  “The senior management team at MillerHomes bought into the collaboration and really used it as an opportunity to drive employee engagement and showcase the company’s values to suppliers and customers.”

The charity was incredibly fortunate that the chief executive of Miller Homes, Chris Endsor, was passionate about the cause and was part of the team that travelled to Malawi. This show of support clearly resonated with Miller Homes employees.

Another factor that undoubtedly contributed to the partnership’s success was the £100,000 fundraising target set by Chris, and the personal attention he paid to all the fundraising activities.

“Setting a specific target for our fundraising and directly encouraging some friendly inter-company competition between regions, as well as taking a genuine interest in their activities and sharing their achievements with the wider business helped ensure our employees were all really engaged and motivated to support the charity and our goals,” Chris commented.

Find the common ground

HFHGB and Miller Homes both recognise the importance for all families, no matter where they are in the world, to have a safe, secure place to call home. This shared ethos made for a very successful partnership, as the two companies discovered.

“Charities and companies need to identify the common elements that unite them to develop strong partnerships and build and support those,” explained Tum.

Chris added: “We recognise that it is a basic human right for everyone to have a safe, secure place to call home and by supporting the Hope Builder’s campaign we have had a fantastic opportunity to use our experience, resources, enthusiasm and determination to make a real difference to some of those who need it most.”

Get the right fit

Charities must try and hit the sweet spot in terms of ensuring they are supporting a cause that the company’s employees believe in, as well as ensuring the company itself is one they can work well with.

“Choosing an organisation which your employees care about has wider business benefits, as it provides a real opportunity to inspire staff and encourage teamwork,” said Chris.

“Miller Homes has been an excellent partner to work with,” added Tum. “Its employees were ambitious and keen to make an impact, believed in our work and seized the opportunity to engage with us across all levels of the company.”

Be creative

The days of promising some local media interest and increased staff morale for fundraising and volunteering projects are behind us. To truly excite a corporate partner and ensure they get the maximum benefit, it is important to understand the current priorities of the business you are working with and make the opportunity relevant to them in as many ways as possible.

For example, Miller Homes recently retained its Investors In People Gold Award, and the HFHGB partnership added another string to its bow during the reassessment. “The assessor singled out our support of Habitat for Humanity as being particularly impressive,” said Chris.

“Companies will find that a good charity partner can help them engage with all their stakeholders,” agreed Tum.

Set off on the right foot

Once two organisations decide to work together, it’s vital to take time to talk to each other and develop multiple levels of communication between the two organisations.

It is also important to set a vision that has been thought through and agreed by both parties.

“Be very clear from the start what the goals of the partnership are,” suggested Tum.

“This ensures that everyone is working towards the same aims and there are no surprises along the way.” 

Presentations from HFHGB representatives at Miller Homes’ annual staff roadshows also helped engage and energise the Miller Homes team from the outset by ensuring they clearly understood the charity’s goals and the positive impact their support could make.

Appeal to the individual

Raising funds and putting together a team of volunteers needs one thing above all others: the buy-in of the employees in the organisation

It is therefore key to understand what motivates individuals to fundraise and volunteer for charities as well as ensuring they receive the right information and support from the charity and their employer to achieve their goals. 

Following the return from Malawi, HFHGB also took the time to speak to each volunteer from Miller Homes on a one-to-one basis to find out what they felt about the trip, what they had learnt and any other valuable insights that they could recreate in building future successful partnerships.

It’s all about the experience

Nothing gets employees engaged in a project like some first-hand experience of the cause they are raising money for. The impact of that experience on staff can also be very valuable to businesses.

“Being able to get involved in the Global Village trip, which provided an opportunity to get hands-on experience and witness the impact of our fundraising as well as the massive difference it makes to those you are directly supporting, is one of the most rewarding and life-changing experiences you can offer your employees,” explained Chris.  “It allows you to leave individual job titles at home and really get to know your team outside a work environment.”

During the trip employees shared their personal stories through videos and posts on social media and the company blog which served to motivate the whole company towards reaching their fundraising goal.

Record the results

To ensure a positive, long-term relationship, it is vital that the results of the partnership are captured and promoted.

As well as funds raised, recording positive volunteer feedback and PR coverage are examples of other useful key performance indicators. Producing case studies to record and evaluate the project are also beneficial.

The explosion of social media enables another measurable sign of success; increased communication and interaction with stakeholders.

Ensuring you get all the elements of a corporate partnership right can take a lot of time, effort and devotion, but the results will make all the hard work more than worthwhile.

Miller Homes has produced an infographic to help support other businesses showing how to raise £100k. For more information visit Miller Homes.


Chris Endsor, Chief Executive of Miller Homes, and Tum Kazunga, Head of Income Generation for HFHGB



Howard Lake is a digital fundraising entrepreneur. Publisher of UK Fundraising, the world's first web resource for professional fundraisers, since 1994. Trainer and consultant in digital fundraising. Founder of Fundraising Camp.

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