Every organization interested in doing social good is faced with these questions while choosing a charity partner –
- Who can we partner with?
- How do we find the right partner?
- What will help us know they are right for us?
Selecting a partner that can help deliver the best impact with the organization’s resources can be a daunting task. Often, organizations look for the largest or the most ‘popular’ charity partner – assuming they will be in safe hands. Others, go by the easiest approach of signing up anyone else the neighboring company has enlisted. If that ‘reputed’ organization is engaging with the entity, it must be credible enough, right? You can be horribly wrong!
One organization that enlisted a charity partner discovered much later that they weren’t even aware that they were getting funded. Another was blacklisted by the government for fraud and yet another was rerouting funds allocated for a specific initiative to an area which didn’t come within the purview of the organization’s project plan. Yet, another organization had some leaders pitch very hard for one specific charity partner because they were associated with the entity; putting the decision makers in a bind. On what basis do you select one over the other?
Whatever the reason, signing up a charity partner needs to be evaluated carefully to avoid issues that can come back to haunt the organization. Making a selection is a collective effort and getting everyone on the same page begins with having a common understanding of the measures of success.
Is there a surefire way to ensure you have the right partner of choice? There probably is. Here are some recommendations on going about your search.
Charity Partner Selection Model
- Focus and basics: When you begin your search consider your organization’s giving philosophy and how it must match with the partner you have in mind. Have your criteria listed out transparently so that there is no ambiguity in the selection process? There are thousands of charity partners so filtering it by cause, location, credibility, reach and impact can help at the start. Know how much time and effort your organization can spare in overseeing this critical decision. Outsourcing such decisions can be disastrous. Often organizations are pressurized to go with what consultants tell them since they haven’t done enough research themselves. Leverage the power of your employee volunteers to research and get a good ‘on-the-ground’ sense of what charity partners do.
- Vision and values: Knowing the true goals of your charity partner can improve your chances of engaging in the long run. Does the charity have a clear purpose? What are their values? How does it work in reality? Visit the charity and observe how they operate. You can gather a lot more insights than while inviting them over to your office for a discussion. An audit of their reports can only tell you so much. It is what they do every day that counts.
- Bold and pragmatic: There are charity partners who claim they can solve large, global problems and yet are not able to make a mark locally. Understand what do they want to achieve and how far are they willing to go to create a difference. Think about – how courageous is the charity partner in striving for change? Yet, how practical are they about their capacity and limitations? Let us face it – there are limited resources each organization has and so do charity partners face challenges in getting stuff done. It is better to be realistic about the value they can add and the support you can provide as an organization. However, never underestimate the power of scaling up through technology and creative ideas.
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