What Donors Want – Season 3, Episode #5: Adobe

Fundraisers, the next episode of What Donors Want is out, featuring an exclusive look behind the scenes of one of the biggest tech companies in the world – Adobe.

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 27th episode deep dives into the world of corporate philanthropy and employee volunteering, where we had the pleasure of chatting with Katy Goodrich, Adobe UK’s Customer Success Director and Social Impact Team Lead. Katy provided us with some fantastic insight into their relationships with charity partners, which help to debunk many of the misconceptions around corporate social responsibility and giving.


Misconception #1: Businesses are like other grant-makers

A myth we commonly hear at I.G. is that fundraisers expect businesses to commit large cash grants, like other traditional grant-makers.

However, all sector trends point to the fact that cash donations from businesses are falling, whilst shared-value partnerships and in-kind donations are rising.

Katy spoke to us about why Adobe’s Creative Business Jam, an employee volunteering day hosted with entrepreneur charity partners TERN and Hatch, was so successful. Yes, Adobe did support the organisations financially – but the partnership and impact were so much more than that. Not only did Adobe employees’ skills support entrepreneurs to solve business needs, but the event helped Adobe employees get to know one another better and, as a result, has improved internal working siloes. This is a fantastic example of a shared value partnership – where there is both a business and social return on investment.

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Misconception #2: Global businesses only partner with large charities

Although many small charities worry that businesses aren’t interested in partnering with small organisations, Adobe proves this wrong. Katy explained to us that businesses like Adobe want to have an impact locally and so engagement with small charity partners can be really impactful and meaningful. In Adobe’s case, their mission is to revolutionise digital creativity for all, so helping small organisations further their social missions by providing digital resources they would otherwise not have access to is highly impactful.

Misconception #3: Corporates don’t care

Yes, Adobe is a global computer software giant, but behind all the smoke and mirrors, people are at the centre of the business, and people care. Even though many social impact roles within businesses, like Katy’s, are either part-time or voluntary, people with these roles usually bring a lot of energy and passion and want to form authentic human connections when building relationships. Adobe’s partnerships with TERN and Hatch have been so meaningful as both organisations have been honest and transparent about their partnership goals – qualities which Katy noted are not always easy to find.

Strong relationships also help to inform business impact. As Katy noted, “it was about the human connection, it was about the impact, it was about saying we had this conversation – six months down the line, how did that conversation go, how did that day spent with an Adobe employee impact that particular entrepreneur and how could that change in a year’s time?”

Adobe wants their relationships with charity partners to be sustainable. Katy’s advice to those looking to partner with businesses? “As cheesy as it sounds, just bring your full self to the engagement”.

The interview was illuminating, with so many more examples and tips for building relationships with businesses to draw upon by listening to the full episode. You can hear the entire conversation between Katy Goodrich and I.G.’s Rachel Stephenson Sheff and Jasmine Awad by subscribing to What Donors Want on iTunes and Spotify.

Stay tuned for a very exciting next episode coming shortly.

Amy Whight works at I.G. Advisors, a London-based social impact strategy consultancy. Get in touch if you want to learn more.