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What Donors Want – Episode #6: DLA Piper

What Donors Want – Episode #6: DLA Piper

What Donors Want – a podcast by I.G. Advisors – offers a behind-the-scenes view into major gifts fundraising from the donor’s perspective.

Fundraisers, the next episode of What Donors Want is out, featuring our first live-taped recording and first corporate guest – global law firm, DLA Piper.

For those who haven’t listened yet, What Donors Want is a podcast by I.G. Advisors, which offers a fresh, dynamic (and slightly irreverent) view into major gifts fundraising from the donor’s perspective. Each episode, we interview a different kind of major donor and get right down to it: what do they actually want from the fundraisers who cultivate them. All of this and more – straight from the donor’s mouth.

Our past episodes feature a wide variety of donors – from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to Comic Relief.

And now our sixth episode deep dives into the world of corporate philanthropy and responsible business with a company leading the charge with their pro bono practice and community work, DLA Piper.

We were thrilled to host the first ever live-recording of What Donors Want in DLA’s beautiful London office (overlooking St. Paul’s Cathedral on a sunny morning), and had the privilege of interviewing DLA’s Partner and Head of Responsible Business, Nicolas Patrick. The room was buzzing with both fundraisers and corporate impact leaders, and Nic shared several un-missable insights.


The importance of relationship building

" A donation is never the beginning of a relationship..." quotation


Throughout the interview, Nic emphasised the importance of relationship building in corporate fundraising, and how a donation never comes at the beginning of this process.

Typically, he noted that most of their philanthropic relationships begin through DLA donating in-kind (i.e. providing pro bono legal support to a charity). Only once trust has been built through this relationship will DLA consider a direct financial contribution. While this means fundraisers aren’t usually the people that hold the relationship with DLA in a pro bono context, as it’s usually the charity’s programme staff, fundraisers have an important role to play in ensuring the charity is on the company’s radar and the relationship is managed strategically. It can be hard to get your foot in the door with corporates, and relationships
make all the difference to this. As Nic emphasised, “we choose our partners – they don’t choose us.”


A shared value approach

"Our philanthropic partnerships must be directly relevant to our business..." quotation


We also spoke with Nic about the increasing importance of shared value partnerships.

Sophisticated corporate fundraising involves a charity approaching a company with a proposition that both furthers their charitable mission and helps the company to meet a business objective – and we asked Nic about how this applies to DLA’s philanthropic strategy. His answers were fascinating; for example, he shared an example of how their scholarship programme in ‘Least Developed Countries’ both provides opportunity for promising law students, as well as cultivates a pipeline of legal advocates across DLA’s key markets, and he detailed the internal shared value ‘pitch’ that went into making this decision.

As a global law firm located in over 40 countries, when it comes to responsible business in the legal sector, DLA Piper is undoubtedly paving the way. Whether it’s providing physical and virtual legal clinics to help people who cannot afford a lawyer, supporting organisations to litigate issues that promote access to justice, or funding scholarships to support promising legal talent around the world – there are so many ways a law firm and a charity can partner together, and these are often unique from other kinds of businesses. It’s crucial to remember this in your approach.

Our live interview with Nic was brilliant, with too many insights to capture in one article. You can hear the entire conversation between me, I.G.s’ Alisha Miranda, and Nic by subscribing to What Donors Want on iTunes.

And stay tuned for a very exciting next episode coming shortly.


Rachel Stephenson Sheff works at I.G. Advisors, a London-based strategy and management consultancy in the social impact space. She is the producer of What Donors Want (aka I.G.’s Roz from Frasier). Get in touch if you want learn more.

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