Corporate Partnerships – What are they really about?

This article was authored by Dani Colvin,
Coordinator, Partnerships Fundraising and Marketing
at the Australian Childhood Foundation.

As a not-for-profit organisation working with and for our community, connections and support are vital to us; they are the lifeblood of our existence. In fact, for us at the Foundation in particular, there is an interesting echo of our work with children in what we also seek to create for ourselves as an organisation.

Just as we work to foster strong, supportive relationships around traumatised children to help them recover, develop and flourish, so too, the Foundation seeks strong, supportive relationships to help us continue our work, broaden our reach and achieve the best outcomes possible for children, their carers, families and communities. Quite simply, we cannot exist, or do the work, on our own.

It’s why we value so highly the partnerships we form with wonderful organisations and businesses such as Hill Street Grocer in Tasmania, Rothfield Print Management, Gucci and our newest partners, Exhibitions and Events Australia Pty Ltd (EEA). If you’d like to read more about our Corporate Partners you can click here.

EEA develops many of Australia’s most innovative and exciting consumer exhibitions. Its portfolio includes Australia’s largest home shows: the Melbourne HIA Home Show, the Sydney HIA Home Show, Sydney’s Renovate & Build Home Show, the Herald Sun Home Show (also in Melbourne) the Brisbane Courier Mail Home Show and The Sunday Mail HIA Home Show. In addition, EEA owns five Mind Body Spirit Festivals staged in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, the Perth Home Show, the Mundella Every Woman Expo and the HIA Home Show, (both in Perth) and the Tattoo & Body Art Expos, run in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth each year. Our partnership with EEA is a new one that’s still in its infancy, but one that we see as having enormous potential to create change for children in many different ways. Apart from making an extraordinarily generous personal donation, and then matching it through EEA, Managing Director Jane Ford says EEA will use its resources (such as its show websites, social media pages and events) to help spread the word and work of the Australian Childhood Foundation. “Over time,” she says, “I hope we will work together on developing new campaigns to assist with fundraising for the Foundation, which in turn will lead to more resources, facilities and programs that the Foundation can provide.” This means greater community awareness about the issue of child abuse, deeper personal involvement by more empowered adults to ensure the safety of children in their communities, and greater reach and more specialised help for vulnerable children.

Jane believes partnerships like ours are forged and bonded by a common passion, and when you hear her share her thoughts on this, it becomes obvious that’s exactly what has drawn us together, and makes us such a natural fit. “I’m passionate about children and their welfare, particularly those on our own doorstep,” she says.

“I believe every child should have the right to a happy and safe environment. Children are our future. They are vulnerable with no choice of what circumstances they are born into. I’m working with the Foundation because your values and passion on children’s welfare reflect my own. Tom (my husband) and I can’t think of anything more important than giving children every chance of a happy, secure childhood.”

But, although shared passion is vital to a successful partnership, so, too, is that sense of cohesion in the work being done to service that passion. A partnership in which the parties share a goal but are unable to find a space in which to work together to achieve it, stands little chance of success or happiness. Indeed, the very word itself indicates the need for evenness and equality; it cannot be all ‘give’ on one side and ‘take’ on the other. To that end, it’s important to establish at the outset clarity around expectations and capacity to meet them, as well as mutual respect and care. Jane puts it beautifully: “Partnerships should foster open and honest communication and strive for innovation. They should be fair and deliver on promises… They provide the capacity to achieve what may not be achieved if working alone.”

At this point, it’s reasonable to ponder the difference between sponsorship and partnership, and Jane draws a distinct delineation between the two “It (partnership) is about the heart which is missing in a sponsorship,” she says. “Nelson Mandela captures for me what a good socially responsible partnership is: ‘A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.’” That said, where does the mutual benefit come in? We’ve talked about how we as an organisation, or more precisely, the children we serve, benefit from generosity and philanthropy, but what do people like Jane and Tom gain from their investment of time, energy, effort and funding? The answer takes us back to the genuineness of Jane’s passion and the sincerity of her desire to help her community. “When I first think of philanthropy, I think of somebody who’s rich, retired and is giving to institutions that really don’t need any help. But it’s not that,” says Jane. “Philanthropy is about facilitating social change. It’s about helping others that can’t help themselves and giving back to society some of what you’ve taken from it for yourself.”

If you feel you would like to join Jane and EEA in supporting and caring for our most vulnerable children, we would love to hear from you. Contact Craig McMillan, National Manager, Partnerships, Fundraising and Marketing, at cmcmillan@childhood.org.au.