Partnerships - Making Them Work


“Thank you” to the businesses and community groups profiled in this manual.

There are, of course, many other successful partnerships out there some have been involved in partnership for many years or even decades.

Through the research undertaken for this manual it has become evident that many businesses in Australia, of all sizes, want to become more involved in their local communities. We hope this manual will assist in some small way.

“Our imagination is the only limit to what we can hope to have in the future”
- Charles Franklin Kettering

Community Business Partnerships-Making Them Work

Editor: Simone Forde
Design & Production: Dominion Design
IIlustrations: Meagan Jefferies
Film & Printing: Pomegranate Production

The Prime Minister’s Community Business Partnership

Suite 2 Level 12 3 Spring Street
Sydney NSW 2000 GPO Box 3717 Sydney NSW 1044
Tel 02 9256 4444 Fax 02 9251 0718
Freecall 1800 359 918

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Welcome to the Prime Minister's Community Business Partnership’s manual on partnerships. This manual is designed as a guide for businesses of all sizes that are interested in getting involved in this growing field of activity. It will also be of use to community organisations wanting to know more about partnerships.

Prime Minister John Howard and the Minister for Family and Community Services convened the Prime Minister’s Community Business Partnership in November 1999. The members of the Partnership represent both the community and the business sector and were brought together to develop and promote a culture of corporate and individual social responsibility in Australia. This will be achieved by encouraging collaborations and informing the public of the benefits (to all sectors) of engaging in mutually beneficial partnerships.

But what is a partnership? And why should your organisation be interested? The partnerships that this manual addresses are primarily between for-profit businesses and community service providers. Successful partnerships are relationships aimed at achieving goals that either partner would be unable to achieve in isolation. They are collaborative, long-term relationships using innovative and flexible methods to achieve these goals. The concept of a socially beneficial collaboration between community and business is not a new one, and many sectors of society will benefit from the sharing of skills, knowledge and resources.

The advantages for businesses are as varied as the potential partnerships they may enter into. Businesses may choose to engage in partnerships because it gives them access to new skills and markets. Partnerships can also lead to better brand recognition, an increase in staff morale, opportunities for staff training, an ability to attract quality staff and access to workers skilled in other areas (see page 3-4 for an explanation of possible business motivations to engage in partnerships).

Potential partnerships are not always immediately apparent, as can be seen by the example in Box 1. By thinking laterally about your organisation and its community, it is possible to develop innovative partnerships that can have a positive impact on the business and community group involved as well as the broader society.

Social partnerships have great potential but they are not a panacea to society’s problems, nor are they the answer for every business or every community group. Partnerships are, nonetheless, a step forward in creating a connected and healthy social environment.

David Varney from the British Gas Group comments on the benefits his company has received:

…we have received much back. We have seen some very impressive individuals achieving much with very little-their resourcefulness and determination are characteristics we want in our leaders. We want our leaders to encourage ownership and responsibility in the people whose performance they are accountable for. British Gas had a paternalistic culture; we are changing that-it is hard and our leaders have seen some inspiration in the achievements of these community leaders. As we have ventured out in the community we have learnt much and I have seen many people in a different light. I have seen a new impatience with non-productive internal processes and procedures. We have grown in self-awareness by this involvement. We know we have more to contribute and we know we will be an even better investment for our share-holders by our involvement in the community.

Committee of Inquiry into a New Vision for Business (1999) 'A New Vision for Business'

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Business Motivation For Social Partnerships 

Protection of Assets:

  1. Long term business sustainability
  2. Risk management
  3. Early compliance with regulatory standards
  4. Inclusion in ethical investment funds

Companies are increasingly looking at community investment as a key contributor to long-term business sustainability. As 75% of companies surveyed in 'Corporate Community Involvement' indicated, sustainability is clearly aligned with the long-term commercial viability of a business. It is the key for maintaining community and stakeholder trust, support and legitimacy .

Where compliance and regulatory standards are required of an industry, social investment can assist with compliance strategies and government relations. Open lines of communication with the broader community allow for early alerts to potential disputes and enables early compliance with existing and potential regulations. This facilitates proactive management of risk.

The increase in socially responsible investment funds is becoming a considerable driver for community involvement. These funds screen organisations according to their community impact. Organisations that are actively involved in the broader community are likely to be favoured by these funds.

Employee Relations:

  1. Recognition as employer of choice
  2. Employee training
  3. Increased staff morale

To attract and retain good staff, many businesses are seeking to be recognised as 'employers of choice.' A proactive engagement with the broader community ensures staff (and potential staff) view the business as a socially responsible organisation that they would be proud to work for.

In addition to staff motivation, loyalty and retention, community involvement also offers the organisation opportunities for staff training and development and the chance to work more closely with their communities.

Box 1

Telstra's partnership with the Bionic Ear Institute is a good example of an outcome-rich collaboration between a major commercial organisation and a not for profit medical research organisation. This partnership has combined the Institute's world leading understanding of the way the brain perceives speech with the telecommunications expertise of staff at Telstra Research Laboratories.

The partnership provides the Institute with access to additional research expertise and funds as well as the potential to benefit from the exploitation of new developments through Telstra's strategic partners. For Telstra it is an opportunity to improve automatic speech recognition systems, which could play a major part in the company's future, and to demonstrate publicly that it is an organisation willing to contribute to the community beyond its direct interests.


  1. Increase in brand recognition
  2. Improved ties with customers, suppliers and government agencies
  3. Reputation within local community
  4. Increased media opportunities
  5. Improved access to key markets

Corporate community involvement is recognised as facilitating corporate image enhancement, brand recognition and brand reputation. In fact, 71% of companies surveyed in an American research project identified corporate image as being the prime benefit from their community investments.

Community investment offers business the opportunity to demonstrate commitment to societal goals to a wide variety of stakeholders, including customers, suppliers, government, and other community groups. Recognition and acknowledgement of this commitment affects risk management issues, relations with customers and suppliers, customer satisfaction and, again, employee satisfaction.

Community activities also provide an opportunity for creative and powerful marketing and public relations programs and may give access to media and markets inaccessible through regular business practices.

The following definitions of 'partnership' demonstrate the variety of attributes which a community business partnership may have.

'People and organisations from some combination of public, business and civil constituencies who engage in voluntary, mutually beneficial, innovative relationships to address common societal aims through combining their resources and competencies.' The Copenhagen Centre

'Three or more organisations-representing the public, private and voluntary sector-acting together by contributing their diverse resources to pursue a common vision with clearly defined goals and objectives. The objective of a partnership should be to deliver more than the sum of the individual parts.' The Ashridge Centre for Business and Society

'A cross-sector alliance in which individuals, groups or organisations agree to: Work together to fulfil an obligation or undertake a specific task; share the risks as well as the benefits; and review the relationship regularly, revising their agreement as necessary.' The Prince of Wales Business Leaders Forum, From the Copenhagen Centre website:

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Before You Begin 

Before selecting a potential partner, it is essential to assess your own business first. Understand the sector you work in, the internal structure of your organisation, and the current business climate. Determine the character of your business and how it may be complemented by a community partner. This self-analysis can be achieved through a variety of business evaluation tools. Your local bookstore or library contain many resources that may assist your business analysis. Box 2 offers some initial suggestions for keyword searches.

Be clear on what you want to achieve from the partnership: is external or internal influence your priority? If your focus is primarily external you may want to access new markets, improve your brand recognition, be seen as an employer of choice, or enhance community perceptions. If your focus is internal you may be working towards acquiring skills your organisation is lacking, or providing a medium for staff motivation. A variety of partnership mechanisms can meet these internal and external needs. For example, if you identified an internal weakness in staff retention, and also found a shortage of qualified people in your industry, you may consider working with local employment agencies to create training programs for their clients, some of who will eventually become part of your employee base.

You should also be clear on what you are prepared to offer such as, staff hours, equipment, networking, facilities, or a combination of such assets. The size of the organisation you are thinking of partnering with is an important consideration as this will affect the type of support you give and the expectations you have from them. For example, a small community group may have difficulty conforming to strict business reporting guidelines, due to limited staff resources. Alternately,

a large community organisation may not need a marketing secondment from a business organisation if their marketing department is already very sophisticated. It is important to consider your impact on any potential partner, as this will contribute to the long-term success of the collaboration.

It may be useful to select your cause by matching it to the company’s slogan, logo or culture (see advertisement 1), or by searching for a community group that uses your product (advertisement 2).

Stakeholder attitudes are an important part of assessing the right 'cause' with which to align. Canvassing staff, customers and/or suppliers can give insight into areas of concern for these key stakeholders. By considering staff interests the partnership will have greater ownership within the company and become embedded into the character of the organisation. Staff or stakeholder opinions may also influence the type of partnership the company chooses. If for instance your staff is divided over the type of cause to support, it may be more useful to leave it up to the individual and facilitate this through payroll deductions and gift matching, or a staff-volunteering program (types of partnerships will be discussed in more detail in pages 9-17). When consulting with your staff it may be useful to refer

Box 2

System performance evaluation

Business position assessment

SWOT analysis

Customer value mapping

Balanced scorecard

Avertisement 1: Picutre of food on the Multicultural Society of Australia
Advertisement 1

Advertisement 2: Picture of Pirrawirra Animal Refuge

Advertisement 2

them to issues that have directly impacted on the business, such as local crime, suicide, homelessness, illness or natural disaster. See Box 3 below for an example of how to survey your stakeholders. Stakeholders are any group that may have an impact on the core workings of a business. They may include employees, customers, suppliers, contractors, board members or government representatives.

If you are new to the community it may be useful to approach some local community leaders to assess local needs. Potential contacts are your Member of Parliament, the local council community liaison officer, Parents and Citizens groups, youth group leaders or industry leaders in your area.

Box 3


Acme Organisation wants to know what social issues are of importance to you so that it may better direct its social activities in the community. The contents of this survey are confidential.

Please take a few minutes to indicate which are key areas of social concern for you. Mark as many or as few as you would like numerically (1 indicating the cause which is most important to you).

If you feel a cause you are interested in has been omitted, please indicate this in the field marked 'other'. The causes have been sorted alphabetically.
  • Aged care
  • Human rights
  • Animal cruelty
  • Hunger
  • Arts and culture
  • Indigenous issues
  • Conservation
  • Medical research
  • Counselling
  • Mental health
  • Crisis support
  • Overseas aid
  • Domestic violence
  • Refugees
  • Drugs
  • Religious issues
  • Education
  • Rural regeneration
  • Endangered species protection
  • Scientific research
  • Environmental degradation
  • Sport
  • Ex-service/veterans
  • Women’s health
  • Family services and parenting
  • Youth employment training
  • Foreign debt
  • Youth suicide
  • Gay/ Lesbian issues
  • Homelessness
  • Other: _______


Community Relations Manager for AXA Australia, offers this insight into the company’s selection of a cause.

“Best practice in corporate community involvement suggests that a successful community relations program should:
  • Have a clear and unambiguous focus on a small number of causes (AXA has selected no more than 5)
  • Have a strong theme that all levels of staff can identify with easily
  • Ensure that the program is giving more than cash by mobilising non-cash resources (a combination of cash, product, people, expertise and systems is ideal)
  • Engage and involve staff at all levels
  • Ensure that all community related activities are supporting chosen causes

While it is unlikely that a focused approach would appeal to all staff, these causes have been chosen:
  • Support our elderly people
  • Provide assistance to people
  • Support children in need with disabilities
  • Support the socially disadvantaged
  • Support health and well being

These areas were chosen following staff focus groups held in Victoria and New South Wales and through a company wide survey, which identified these as areas of interest and concern to employees.

The focus groups also allowed AXA to target key areas for action and building relationships. There was a strong sense of ownership apparent in the focus groups. Participants indicated a desire to be long-term members of partnership schemes. There is probably a need to continue the focus groups in the future and there is a definite need to explore more inclusive roles for the other states.

An additional benefit of a focused approach to community involvement is that it enables us to apply a strict and uniform assessment process to all requests for financial assistance/community sponsorship. By adhering to this approach we can decline with grace other requests for assistance. Partnerships may take any of the three forms-namely long-term, medium term and one off-and all will have relevancy within our program, but organisations selected must meet our chosen areas.”

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How To Find A Partner 

A suitable partner can be found in various ways for instance an assessment of stakeholder interests may alert your business to a community group that is aligned to your organisation’s character and climate.

If you are looking independently for a group that matches your stakeholders interests you may want to start by speaking to government departments working in these specific areas. For example, if you have decided that you would like to partner with an environmental group, it would be useful to contact local, state and federal government environment departments for names of relevant organisations. Alternatively, the telephone book can be the best research tool you have.

Other resources available to help you locate suitable community organisations are 'peak bodies' of not-for-profit groups and Internet listings of community groups. A selection of these types of organisations could include:
  • the Australian Council for Social Services (ACOSS) - this website also has links to the State Councils of Social Services
  • Givewell
  • Probono Australia
  • ACROD (National Industry Association for Disability Services)

Once you have a listing of suitable community groups it is time to research a selection of them. You could do this by an Internet search, a media article search at the library and by requesting annual reports from the individual community groups.

While researching it is important to look at other businesses (if any) with whom the community groups have partnered. If there are other businesses that have been involved with one of the groups you have selected it would be worthwhile contacting them to discuss their experience working with the community group in question.

It is also important to consider what type of organisation you want to partner with and, in particular, what size organisation would be appropriate. If you are a large organisation with exacting bureaucratic guidelines to your work, a small community organisation may find it too challenging to comply with strict accountability rules.

It is important to consider the culture of the community group and if it would complement your business. For example, a group working with gambling addiction may find it confronting for a casino to suggest collaboration. It is important to be open to the concerns and conditions that a community group may have, just as you would for any business associate.

Partnerships between private sector and not-for-profit organisations are an emerging concept in Australia and, as a result, community groups may have a different understanding of what 'partnering' with business means. Preliminary discussions could be held between organisations to ensure that both groups have the same understanding. There are some suggested references for community groups in Box 4.

“We see no conflict between business goals and social and environmental needs. I believe the distinction between a good company and a great one is this: a good company delivers excellent products and services; a great one delivers excellent products and services and strives to make the world a better place.

William Clay Ford, Jr, Chairman of the Board, Ford Annual Report letter, March 1999

Box 4
  • Dees, Gregory (1998) 'Enterprising Nonprofits.' In 'Harvard Business Review' January-February. USA.
  • Franklin, Douglas (2000) 'Social Marketing for the New Millennium: A Practical, ‘Do-It-Yourself’ Manual for Non-Government Organisations and Community and Voluntary Associations.' The Australian Youth Foundation with support from The International Youth Foundation, Sydney, Australia.
  • Mallee Family Care Inc and the Sidney Myer Fund (2000) 'Beyond the Bottom Line: Creating Opportunities for Corporate-Community Partnerships in Rural Australia.
  • Sims, Sandra (2000) 'Creating Effective Partnerships with Business: A Guide for Charities and Nonprofits in Canada.' Imagine, Canadian Centre for Philanthropy, Toronto, Canada.”

For a partnership to be successful, it is necessary that differences between the operating cultures of businesses and community groups are understood and appreciated. In business the focus is usually on the financial bottom line and maximising profits (possibly for shareholder satisfaction) whereas client services are the measure of success for community groups. Both priorities are legitimate and equally valid. Tensions can arise between partners when these differences in approach are ignored or under-valued.

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What Type Of Partnership? 

Partnerships may have many varied attributes and applications. Before deciding how you would like to partner with a community group, it may be useful to consider some of the following partnership forms:
  • Staff volunteering
  • Gifts in kind
  • Payroll deductions and gift matching
  • Pro bono services
  • Staff fundraising
  • Cause related marketing

Box 5 offers some partnership suggestions according to the area requiring focus in the business. Of course, a partnership could involve one or a combination of several of the above programs, or indeed may not fit neatly into any of these forms (see Box 6). Each of these six partnership formats is discussed in closer detail over the next six sections. The community group you choose to partner with will obviously need to have a large amount of input at this stage. They may offer ideas as to what type of partnership will work best for them.

Box 5

An internal focus to improve staff motivation, internal cohesion (needed perhaps as a result of structural change), staff training etc. may be achieved through:
  • Staff volunteering
  • Staff fundraising
  • Workplace deducitons and gift matching
  • Pro bono work

An exernal focus working towards risk management, community reputation, stakeholder reputation, etc. maybe achieved through:
  • Cause related marketing
  • Gifts of premises
  • Gifts in kind
  • Pro bono work

Box 6

The aim of Fiber Glass International (FGI) and Mission Australia Build a Boat project was to train a group of unemployed young people to build an Olympic-class yacht for people with disabilities.

The partnership began in 1999 and the benefits are twofold. First, it has resulted in the produciton of a purpose built boat allowing people with disabilities to enjoy the water and complete on equal term. Second, the project has provided on opportunity for disadvantaged youth to gain skills and work experience, building their self-esteem and helping them move from unemployment to a career. In addition, the training of young people has addressed a shortage in skilled workers for the business.

Throughout the partnership, FGI supported the program by providing glass, fibreglass, equipment, advice and training.

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Staff Volunteering 

If staff motivation and retention are a concern within your organisation then staff volunteering is a model to consider.

Staff volunteering programs give employees the opportunity to demonstrate existing skills and learn new ones from the community partner. It is a particularly good way to develop leadership skills and test staff competency outside familiar work-places. It can be especially useful for 'skilling-up' trainee management personnel.

Many community groups have volunteer programs to assist them in the day-to-day running of their organisations. The volunteer work may involve basic administrative duties, client interaction or other tasks such as building maintenance or food preparation. Alternately it could be at a strategic level, with executive staff offering project management or other skills. All of these volunteering possibilities allow for greater staff interaction and team building.

Some organisations choose to have their staff volunteer during regular office hours, other programs allow employees to 'bank' the amount of hours they volunteer in the community (outside of office hours) and then reward staff through cash bonuses or paid leave. Both methods offer incentives to staff who choose to volunteer.

Box 7 offers contact details of some volunteering organisations in Australia these may be an initial contact for businesses wishing to find a community partner.

Strategic Executive Advice and Learming Seal Force Seal

Force helps build partnerships by transferring corporate knowledge into community organisations. The participants share executive knowledge and skills with community organisations, who in turn share their culture, values and experience. This exchange process is focused around a specific strategic project selected by the community group.

In one such project, the National Australia Bank and the Salvation Army teamed up to work on Crossroads, the Army’s homelessness network. Investing money is not the core business of the Salvation Army, nor is the planning of investments for the homeless the core business of bank executives. The task for both parties was to integrate their knowledge and ideas into a common plan. It was decided that it would be of great benefit to the Army’s work if the Bank’s executives could come up with a way to boost the value of a specific bequest.

Participating bank staff gave up three hours a week to get a better understanding of their mission, assisting on a needle exchange program and handing out food vouchers.

While gaining a unique insight into the workings of a community organisatio^n, the bank executives devised a model investment program which leveraged an original $400,000 bequest into a self-funding pool of $1.2million! Contact details:

Box 7

VOLUNTEERING ORGANISATIONS Offers on-line volunteering for skilled individuals interested in assisting developing countries, for example, on-line mentoring of Peruvian schoolchildren.

SEEK Volunteer: This website is linked to, Australia’s leading internet employment site. It is a not-for-profit initiative designed to bring volunteers and the organisations seeking them together.

Volunteering Australia:The national peak body working to advance volunteering in the Australian community. Its role is to represent the diverse views and needs of the volunteer movement while promoting the activity of volunteering as one of enduring social, cultural and economic value.

Australian Volunteers International: Provides opportunities for Australians to volunteer to live, work and learn in partnership with people of other cultures. Volunteers contribute to developing communities and bring a reciprocal benefit to Australia.

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Payroll Deductions And Gift-Matching 

This relatively simple means of raising funds for charity has been very successful in both the United States and the United Kingdom. Employees electing to give a percentage of their wage to selected charities can raise funds for the community service sector. If employers support these workplace-giving programs by matching the donations of their staff, it adds a further dimension of commitment to the scheme and can, in turn, lead to longer-term partnerships.

In the corporate sector, workplace giving is a democratic model through which staff can choose the community group they support. This challenges traditional corporate giving where the community program is decided upon at management level.

Workplace giving programs need not be restricted to large corporations. Participating businesses in the US and UK include small to medium sized enterprises, which find it to be a cost-effective way to join in community giving.

For community service organisations, workplace giving is also a cost-effective way of receiving funds as, typically, only 10% of the donation is spent on administration compared to much higher costs for fundraising tools such as direct mail.


Currently in Australia, three organisations can assist employers by administering payroll deduction schemes through a single agency. They are Earth Share, OzGive (CAF Australia) and United Way (see Box 8 for contact details). Donors may support any registered charity in Australia and the agencies charge minimal administrative costs at the time of donating (see individual agencies for their administrative fees).

In addition, Australian Charities Fund (ACF), can assist larger organisations to implement workplace deductions through existing payroll systems. No administration fee is involved. ACF also provides training and support required for staff to engage in this type of partnership (contact details in Box 8).

Challenge Bank

Challenge Bank has been involved with United Way for over 10 years as a founding corporate partner, providing assistance through corporate sponsorship, payroll deductions and private donations.

Over an 18 month period, Challenge Bank staff committed to raise $10,000 for Ngala Resource Centre through the United Way deduction scheme. This target was successfully reached in March 1999. Through their 'Matching Gifts Program', the bank doubled the $10,000 to $20,000, and these funds were used to provide toys, teaching aids, an electronic whiteboard and a projector for the centre.

Challenge Bank also provides United Way with access to a warehouse which is used to store recyclable goods such as carpet, furniture and computer equipment to be distributed among various charities across Western Australia.

Box 8


Australian Charities Fund
Tel: 02 9231 7908

Earth Share
02 6685 7904

02 9267 9210

United Way
02 9949 4801

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Staff Fundraising 

Staff fundraising can be an effective way to ensure staff are personally involved in social programs. Empowering staff to raise much-needed funds for community groups allows them to learn and apply new skills, which can then be applied in their day-to-day work. Allowing staff to demonstrate new skills while doing something meaningful for their community will also increase staff motivation and satisfaction.

Fundraising activities are limited only by the imagination: raffles, charity events, white elephant sales and auctions are only a few of the ways employees can raise funds. Remember to involve staff in the presentation of the funds. Media events with staff involvement can not only raise the profile of the business but also reward staff for their work.

An added motivation for staff can be for the business to match funds raised. This clearly demonstrates the business’s commitment to their community partner.

The Woolworths Care for Kids Appeal

The Woolworths CARE FOR KIDS Appeal for the Royal Children’s Hospital, Queensland, is an annual eight-week community-based fundraising campaign coordinated by Woolworths Queensland in conjunction with the Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation. The goal is to help sick and injured children throughout Queensland and northern New South Wales by providing funding for research, modern facilities (such as the five-storey Woolworths Medical Building), hi-tech equipment and training.

The Appeal is an example of a genuine partnership between a prominent company and a community cause. The majority of funds come from staff fund-raising activities involving the local community, such as sausage sizzles, raffles, and cake stalls. One of the most inspiring aspects is that most of these activities are organised and conducted by Woolworths’ staff in their own time. Hundreds of staff show a further commitment by nominating to contribute a regular deduction from their pay. Woolworths’ trade partners are also involved, participating and sponsoring special events such as the Woolworths CARE FOR KIDS Race Day, River Run and Golf Day.

Woolworths Queensland believes the great team spirit engendered by the Woolworths CARE FOR KIDS Appeal creates a warm and friendly atmosphere in Woolworths stores across Queensland and the Northern Rivers. The truly focused nature of the Appeal serves to further enhance the sense of 'family' that exists within all Woolies stores. The result- customers enjoy shopping at Woolworths, store managers benefit from the enthusiasm created and shareholders benefit from increased productivity and profits.

The Woolworths Queensland team is proud to show that one company can make a real difference to the lives of sick kids, while at the same time helping to build better local community relations and a better business.

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Gifts In Kind 

Gifts in kind can apply to a variety of business contributions. These may range from donation of office equipment, office space, premises, promotional material, or auction items. As well as giving equipment that businesses produce or distribute, organisations can also donate equipment that they no longer use, such as computers. Gifts in kind can often lead to a longer-term and more in-depth relationships between organisations.

Before giving it is necessary to ensure that the community organisation is in need of the items available and that it can afford to maintain them. Gifts of computers, for example, should be given with the assurance that the computers will be useful and reliable for the work of the community group. It would also be considerate to offer your business computing technicians to assist in the installation of the computers.

As an alternative to presenting one-off gifts, companies can give small, regular donations. This ensures that a real partnership is developed with the community group. Buying simple items such as stationery can greatly reduce overheads for small community groups and using a business’s bulk-ordering capacity is an effective way for community and business collaboration to begin.

Providing office space and facilities is another way to support and understand community partners better. By having close contact with your community partner, a business can open the lines of communication and facilitate risk assessment and stakeholder engagement

The Visual Arts Association of Far North Queensland

The Visual Arts Association of Far North Queensland wanted to ensure that local artists’ work was displayed regularly and prominently to appropriate audiences. Their partnership with Daikyo has achieved these aims while at the same time giving Daikyo the opportunity to promote the Paradise Palms Golf Course as 'more than just a golf club'.

The bi-monthly Champagne Breakfast Arts and Music Openings provide a sophisticated venue to display the local work. They also give golfers the opportunity to enjoy and purchase premier artwork from the region.

The success of the initial years of the partnership has led the golf course to establish a permanent display space, the Atrium Gallery. The project has gained considerable local support with regular visitors, maximum attendance at openings and valuable art sales.

The gallery space is donated as are the catering supplies and staff time for the champagne breakfasts. The golf course considers this a minimal investment for maximum returns.

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Pro Bono Services 

Offering free business services to community groups can be a very rewarding and efficient way to collaborate. Staff working with community groups have the opportunity to test their skills in unfamiliar environments.

By working with community groups, often on shoestring budgets, pro bono workers can learn new skills and management techniques that they may not be exposed to in their regular work. Working in a new and challenging environment on worthwhile community projects can also go a long way in motivating staff and generating company loyalty, as the case study below demonstrates.

Seconding a staff member to a community group can further increase the abovementioned benefits. A secondment will mean that your staff member is more closely informed of the community group’s needs and strengths and the experience can deliver skills to the secondee that you may not have considered before. For example, placing a marketing professional with your community partner for a lengthy period may result in your employee returning with a 'streamlined' approach that could only be learnt in an community organisation. Applied in your own organisation, this could lead to a decrease in waste (both of time and resources) and an increase in profits.

Organisations may find that secondments of staff nearing retirement age can assist in their transition from full-time work to retirement. An employee working closely with a community group can learn how his or her skills can be translated into another context, out of a paid environment.

McKinsey and Company

McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm, provides an example of how one firm has leveraged its skills and resources to assist Australian community groups in their development and growth.

McKinsey brings the problem solving approach and analytical strength it applies to the corporate world to assist non-profit organisations. The firm gives more than just money. It invests its most valuable resource, people, in helping organisations to maximise their contributions to the community, increase their fundraising capacity and optimise their operations and organisational structure.

Globally, McKinsey invested over 76,000 hours in 2000 supporting non-profit businesses. This represents approximately 1 percent of the total consultant hours. McKinsey also supports this investment via its global Nonprofit Practice, a team of experts that provides specialist advice and support to teams working with community organisations around the world.

Locally, McKinsey consultants make a similar time commitment. Last year they invested over 1,800 hours in helping community organisations in Australia and New Zealand. They have worked in partnership with youth foundations, community welfare agencies, scientific research institutes and international aid organisations. For example, McKinsey recently undertook a successful project in partnership with a youth organisation in Sydney. It helped the organisation to capitalise on the success of a local initiative by developing an international roll out plan.

McKinsey Australia/ New Zealand took additional steps to boost its contribution to the community recently by launching a ‘helping hands’ initiative. This program has provided opportunities for McKinsey people to volunteer in ground-level community work such as packing Christmas hampers for underprivileged families.

McKinsey’s firm-wide mission is twofold: to help its clients make substantial and lasting improvements in their performance and to build a firm that is able to attract, develop, excite, motivate and retain exceptional people.

McKinsey approaches its projects for non-profit clients with the same enthusiasm and focus on client service as it does its fee-paying clients. It provides a dedicated team that is fully committed to working in partnership with the organisation to deliver the best possible results.

McKinsey also finds its non-profit activity helps it to deliver on the second half of its mission, contributing to recruiting and retention. Both the consultants and the firm itself recognised long ago that offering consultants opportunities to work in the non-profit sector provides them with a high level of personal satisfaction and motivation, as well as allowing them to give something back to the community.

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Cause Related Marketing 

Cause related marketing (CRM) is a partnership between a community group and a business organisation based on promoting an image, product or service for the benefit of each partner.

CRM allows businesses to leverage their social partnerships through creative marketing campaigns. Businesses can clearly align themselves with their community partner whilst also enhancing the company’s brand, image and values. A community partner may have their logo and cause information attached to the business product, raising awareness of the issue. In return, the business partner will position itself in the market as a socially aware organisation.

For CRM to work well, it is important that the values of the partnering organisations match. With an increasing sophistication in the consumer market, it is only through sincerity and transparency that CRM campaigns can succeed. CRM will be most successful when it is part of a broader corporate social responsibility strategy that has a clear commitment to the community. To merely give a percentage of bottom line profits can be seen by the public (and staff) as tokenism. But if combined with a broader community commitment, public perceptions of a company can be greatly enhanced.

A well-known and successful CRM campaign is the 'Computers for Schools' campaign run by Tesco, a UK supermarket chain. When customers spend £10 or more, Tesco presents them with a voucher which can be donated to a school of the customer’s choice. When enough vouchers have been collected the school exchanges them for a computer. To date, Tesco has distributed over 47,000 computers, equivalent to one computer per school in Britain.

By linking their brand to a suitable cause, a business can raise its profile and reputation in its local community.

Optus – Kids Helpline Partnership

In 1999 Kids Help Line (KHL) was seeking a significant corporate partner to assist it in meeting demand for the service, as well as developing a major new initiative- the world’s first real-time one-on-one internet counselling service for kids.

As KHL is primarily a telephone counselling service, a telecommunications company was a natural choice for corporate partner. Optus had a long-term prior relationship with Kids Help Line as their telecommunications carrier, but this had not extended into a formal partnership prior to 1999.

The brand synergy between the two organisations, as well as the fit between their business plans for the next twelve months, resulted in a decision to develop a large-scale cause related marketing program.


  • Positive impact on consumer perceptions of Optus by:
    • Demonstrating technology in a relevant field
    • Bringing the company brand essence of ‘human and inspiring’ to life
    • Showcasing social responsibility and a vision for the future
    • Respecting customers and their needs
  • Fostering internal pride and encouraging Optus staff to feel good about the company they work for

Kids Help Line
  • Generate funds to answer calls
  • Develop a world-first Internet counselling service
  • Promote positive education messages about communication within families and youth issues
  • Improve call centre efficiency through the implementation of world-class technology and systems A multifaceted communications program was implemented which included television, radio and print advertising, staff involvement programs, celebrity endorsement, product promotions, media launches and releases and special events.

Results to date include significant on-going media exposure, positive feedback from staff and consumers, improved efficiency in the KHL call centre, significant funds raised for KHL and the development and launch of the world’s first email and real time web counselling service for kids.

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Managing The Relationship 

The  Agreement Once a partnership approach has been chosen, it is then necessary to start formalising an agreement. You may consider making this as formal as a legal agreement. This may take time as partners need to be in complete agreement with each other before an amicable and sustainable relationship can progress.

Be sure that an agreement includes:
  • What resources will be given by each partner
  • The time period of the commitment
  • Intended outcomes
  • What evaluation tools will be used during the relationship
  • What activities would result in the partnership being dissolved
  • How each partner’s name and logo may be used
  • Procedures for amending the agreement

An agreement should also allow for change as partnerships will often lead to opportunities neither party may have considered previously. A partnership is a relationship and as has the capacity to grow organically so it is important that a written agreement can accommodate this growth.

At this early stage it is also useful to build in communication tools giving partners access to regular and open lines of communication. By agreeing to meet regularly, for instance, organisations have the opportunity to voice concerns or contentment about the partnership’s development. This communication should be between at least two nominated representatives of each organisation, to allow for continuity and understanding.

Negotiate with your community partner to ensure that they regularly update the business on how the business assistance is being used. This open line of communication can often lead to further collaboration.

Plan your Exit

Similarly to business partnerships, a planned exit strategy ensures a smooth transition between corporate and community partners.

Clear time expectations in the agreement are necessary. Long-term partnerships obviously work best as they give time for the arrangements to meet their full potential. If your organisation decides towards the end of the contract that it does not want to continue the relationship then it is essential the exit is openly planned between partners. This will entail partners discussing how they will manage without the other and offering solutions to ensure a smooth transition. This will help to ensure that there will be no bad feelings between organisations and the positive impacts of both organisations will be maintained more easily.

Different Cultures

Businesses entering into arrangements with a community group should be aware of differences between the sectors which may arise.

Generally, community groups will have a culture of shared participation and a more informal approach, stemming from a necessary juggling of roles and responsibilities due to budgetary constraints. In addition, businesses should be sensitive to the different values of their organisation and their community partner, reflected in a different emphasis bottom line (financial for the business and client service for the community groups).

To ensure that your business is supportive of the partnership, it is important that the reasoning behind the partnership is clear to all levels of staff. A comprehensive training program outlining the purposes of the partnership and the expected outcomes can greatly assist in the concept being embraced at all levels.

Measuring and Evaluation

It is important to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the partnership and for this reason, clearly defined performance indicators and bench-marks need to be established and agreed upon from the outset. Ensure that performance indicators are both long-term and short-term in focus. Long-term is important so that the partnership can grow within a realistic time frame. Short-term indicators are important checkpoints for ensuring that the partnership is on track to achieve long-term goals. As in any business relationship, both parties should be sensitive to teething problems and be flexible in their approach to them.

Triple bottom line reporting (measuring a company’s social, environmental and economic bottom line) offers some insight into what performance indicators may be useful. A proliferation of triple bottom line standards are currently emerging and these fall into two brackets: performance standards and reporting standards. Both offer assistance to businesses trying to resolve their community involvement with their internal responsibilities. Two types of reporting standards and one set of reporting indicators are included in Box 9. The listing of performance standards is extensive and rapidly changing. More information on these standards can be obtained from the Prime Minister's Community Business Partnership’s secretariat.

Box 9

AccountAbility 1000

Global Reporting Initiative

Ethos Indicators (english Version)

Key Factors for a Successful Partnership

  • Transparency of agendas and expectations to ensure
  • Agreement on the scale of partnership activities evaluation tools
  • Appreciation of each partner’s role and contributions
  • Understanding and appreciation of the partnership and its purpose throughout all levels of both organisations
  • Free-flowing communication between organisations a common goal
  • Regular and agreed upon measurement and
  • Flexibility in response to allow the partnership to reach its full potential
  • A well-planned exit strategy

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Resources For Further Information 

The following list of references and websites may help you find additional information to assist you in your partnership development.

Business Case for Corporate Community Investment

  • Alperson, Myra (1995) 'Corporate Giving Strategies That Add Business Value.' The Conference Board, New York, USA.
  • Burke, Edmund M. (1999) 'Corporate Community Relations: The Principle of the Neighbor of Choice.' Quorum Books, Westport, USA.
  • Business Leaders’ Input (2000) 'For an Entrepreneurial and Inclusive Europe: Business, Government and Civil Society in Partnership.' Presented to European Summit on Employment, Economic Reform and Social Cohesion for a Europe of Innovation and Knowledge, Lisbon, Portugal.
  • Centre for Corporate Public Affairs (2000) 'Corporate Community Involvement in Australia.' Funded by the Department of Family and Community Services, Canberra, Australia.
  • Cohen, Ben and Jerry Greenfield (1997) 'Ben and Jerry’s Double Dip: Lead with Your Values and Make Money, Too.' Simon & Schuster, New York, USA.
  • Collins, James C. and Jerry I. Porras (1994) 'Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies.' HarperCollins, New York. USA.
  • Committee of Inquiry into a New Vision for Business (1999) 'A New Vision for Business.' Published on Business Impact website, London, UK (
  • Elkington, John (1997) 'Cannibals with Forks: The Triple Bottom Line of 21st Century Business.' Capstone, Oxford, UK.
  • Garone, Stephen (1999) 'The Link Between Corporate Citizenship and Financial Performance.' The Conference Board, New York, USA.
  • Glazebrook, Mark (2000) 'How Australia’s Top 500 Companies are Becoming Corporate Citizens.' Corporate Citizenship Research Unit, Deakin University, Burwood, Australia.
  • Green, Janet (1994) 'Of Mutual Benefit: Business and the Community.' Prepared for The Office on Social Policy NSW Government Social Policy Directorate, Sydney, Australia.
  • Makower, Joel and Business for Social Responsibility (1994) 'Beyond the Bottom Line: Putting Social Responsibility to Work for Your Business.' Simon & Schuster, New York, USA.
  • Ministry of Social Affairs, Denmark (1997) 'New Partnerships for Social Cohesion.' Report following the International Conference on the Social Commitment of Enterprises, Copenhagen, 16/18 October 1997.
  • Moss Kanter, Rosabeth (1999) 'From Spare Change to Real Change: The Social Sector as Beta Site for Business Innovation.' In 'Harvard Business Review' May/June, USA.
  • Prentice, Bill (2000) 'Connecting Companies to Communities.' Imagine, Canadian Centre for Philanthropy, Toronto, Canada.
  • Reder, Alan (1994) 'In Pursuit of Principle and Profit.' HarperCollins, New York, USA.
  • Weiser, John and Simon Zadek (2000) 'Conversations with Disbelievers: Persuading Companies to Address Social Challenges.' Produced with funding from the Ford Foundation. (
  • Dees, Gregory (1998) 'Enterprising Nonprofits.' In 'Harvard Business Review' January/February, USA.
  • Franklin, Douglas (2000) 'Social Marketing for the New Millennium: A Practical, ‘Do-It-Yourself’ Manual for Non-Government Organisations and Community and Voluntary Associations.' The Australian Youth Foundation with support from The International Youth Foundation, Sydney, Australia.
  • Langford, Kate (1999) 'Landcare Sponsorship: A Guide for Groups in NSW.' NSW Department of Land and Water, Sydney, Australia. (particularly useful for small groups)
  • McFarlan, Warren F. (1999) 'Working on Nonprofit Boards: Don’t Assume the Shoe Fits.' In 'Harvard Business Review' November/December, USA.
  • Ryan, William P. (1999) 'The New Landscape for Non-Profits.' In 'Harvard Business Review' January/February, USA.
  • Shore, Bill (1999) 'The Cathedral Within.' Random House, New York, USA.
  • Sims, Sandra (2000) 'Creating Effective Partnerships with Business: A Guide for Charities and Nonprofits in Canada.' Imagine, Canadian Centre for Philanthropy, Toronto, Canada.


  • Adkins, Sue (1999) 'Cause Related Marketing: Who Cares Wins.' Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford, UK.
  • Pringle, Hamish and Marjorie Thompson (1999) 'Brand Spirit: How Cause Related Marketing Builds Brands.' John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester, UK.
  • Richards, Craig (1998) 'Structuring Effective Sponsorship.' TBC Information Services, Sydney, Australia.

Guides for Ccommunity Groups

  • Australian Council of Social Service (2000) 'Guide to Business and Community Partnerships: For Small and Medium Sized Organisations.' Funded by the Commonwealth Department of Family and Community Services, Sydney, Australia. (particularly useful for small groups)
  • Australian Forum on Nonprofit Management (1999) 'A Report. Visit to Australia by Frances Hesselbein.' Australian Forum on Nonprofit Management, Sydney, Australia.
  • Australian Youth Foundation and Dr Colin Sharp (1996) 'Do-It-Yourself Evaluation Manual.' The Australian Youth Foundation, Sydney, Australia.

New Economy

  • Zadek, Simon Niels Hojensgard and Peter Raynard (2000) 'The New Economy of Corporate Citizenship.' The Copenhagen Centre, Copenhagen, Denmark.


  • Nelson, Jane and Simon Zadek (1999) 'Partnership Alchemy: New Social Partnerships in Europe.' The Copenhagen Centre, Copenhagen, Denmark.
  • Reference Group on Welfare Reform/ Interim Report (2000) 'Participation Support for a More Equitable Society.' Department of Family and Community Services, Canberra, Australia.
  • Sagawa, Shirley and Eli Segal (2000) 'Common Interest Common Good: Creating Value through Business and Social Sector Partnerships.' Harvard Business School Press,Boston, USA.
Project Evaluations
  • Australian Youth Foundation and Dr Colin Sharp (1996) 'Do-It-Yourself Evaluation Manual.' The Australian Youth Foundation, Sydney, Australia
  • Nelson, Jane and Simon Zadek (1999) 'Partnership Alchemy: New Social Partnerships in Europe.' The Copenhagen Centre, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Regulations and Governance

  • Letts, Christine W. William Ryan and Allen Grossman (1997) 'Virtuous Capital: What Foundations Can Learn from Venture Capitalists.' In 'Harvard Business Review' March/April, USA.
  • Mehra, Malini (2000) 'New Frontiers of Corporate Social Responsibility and Accountability: Response and Remaining Challenges.' Presentation given at the Second Global Forum on Human Development, UNDP 9-10 October 2000, Rio De Janeiro (

Social Captial

  • Centre for Research and Learning/University of Tasmania has numerous reports on social capital and capacity building. These reports can be downloaded from

Socially Responsible Investment

  • Allen Consulting Group (2000) 'Socially Responsible Investment in Australia.' Prepared for the Ethical Investment Working Group, Melbourne, Australia.

Triple Bottom Line Reporting

  • Allen Consulting Group (2000) 'Socially Responsible Investment in Australia.' Prepared for the Ethical Investment Working Group, Melbourne, Australia.
  • Elkington, John (1997) 'Cannibals with Forks: The Triple Bottom Line of 21st Century Business'. Capstone, Oxford, UK.
  • Futures Foundation (2000) 'Measures of Success: Notes from a Workshop Hosted by the Futures Foundation, 1 May 2000.' Sydney, Australia.
  • Goodell, Edward (ed.) (1996-1999) 'Standards of Corporate Social Responsibility.' Social Venture Network, San Francisco, USA.
  • Hick, Sally (2000) 'Morals Maketh the Money.' In 'Australian CPA' May, Australia.


  • Raynolds, John (1998) 'The Halo Effect: How Volunteering Can Lead To a More Fulfilling Life and a Better Career.' Golden Books, New York, USA.

Case Studies:

Community Regeneration

  • Moss Kanter, Rosabeth (1999) 'From Spare Change to Real Change: The Social Sector as Beta Site for Business Innovation.' In 'Harvard Business Review' May/June, USA.
  • People Together Project & Victorian Local Governance Association (2000) 'The Power of Community: Celebrating and Promoting Community in Victoria.' People Together Project & Victorian Local Governance Association, Melbourne, Australia.


  • Green, Janet (1994) 'Of Mutual Benefit: Business and the Community.' Prepared for The Office on Social Policy - NSW Government Social Policy Directorate, Sydney, Australia.
  • Moss Kanter, Rosabeth (1999) 'From Spare Change to Real Change: The Social Sector as Beta Site for Business Innovation.' In 'Harvard Business Review' May/June, USA.


  • Green, Janet (1994) 'Of Mutual Benefit: Business and the Community.' Prepared for The Office on Social Policy - NSW Government Social Policy Directorate, Sydney, Australia.


  • Sagawa, Shirley and Eli Segal (2000) 'Common Interest Common Good: Creating Value through Business and Social Sector Partnerships.' Harvard Business School Press, Boston, USA.


Training for Disadvantaged Groups

  • Green, Janet (1994) 'Of Mutual Benefit: Business and the Community.' Prepared for The Office on Social Policy - NSW Government Social Policy Directorate, Sydney, Australia.


  • Moss Kanter, Rosabeth (1999) 'From Spare Change to Real Change: The Social Sector as Beta Site for Business Innovation.' In 'Harvard Business Review' May/June, USA.

Workplace Diversity

  • Rappleye Jr Willard C. (2000) 'Diversity in the Workplace: Very Hard Work for the New Advantage.' In 'Across the Board: The Conference Board Magazine' November/December, USA.


European Websites

UK Websites

USA Websites

Other International Websites

Australian Websites

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