What the private sector can offer the charity sector and how funders can help it to do more

This blog post by Matthew Mannix explores how in utilising a business’ expertise and skills, corporate-charity partnerships can add huge value to an organisation’s mission, with funders playing an important role.

Categories: Blog, Disadvantaged Youth

May 28, 2019

Matthew is a consultant at NPC, a charity think tank and consultancy that works with both funders and charities to improve the sector. Matthew advises the Disadvantaged Youth and Mental Health portfolios for the Stone Family Foundation.

Corporate-charity partnerships are often associated with businesses handing over oversized cheques for underwhelming amounts and staff volunteering to ‘help’ charities but getting in the way.

However, our work supporting grant-making and working with both funders and charities has shown us the private sector is genuinely offering a lot to help charities make a difference in people’s lives. These kind of partnerships are something that funders—trusts, foundations and philanthropists—can and should actively help to happen.

Here are three examples from our work across the  Disadvantaged Youth Portfolio  which we think will illustrate the value of partnership to the most committed corporate-charity cynic. 

IntoUniversity and OC&C Strategy Consultants: targeting services with big data analysis


Most charities know that their services are needed, but it is extremely hard to know where you are needed most. OC&C Strategy Consultants recently supported IntoUniversity to understand where it should be looking to build more of its local learning centres which inspire and help young people to access university.

OC&C provided a pro bono team of seven people who used big data analysis to map the schools where young people are both experiencing the most extreme deprivation and are least likely to progress to university.

The analysis allowed IntoUniversity to pinpoint highly specific local communities where its centres are likely to have the most impact.

IntoUniversity also believes the data has enabled it to successfully fundraise for its work by allowing it to demonstrate that its expansion plans are backed up by compelling evidence of need.

The Mix and J.P. Morgan: improving access to services with a chatbot

Charities are very good at many things, but often don’t have the resources that the private sector has to develop technology.

Global financial services firm J.P. Morgan is currently supporting The Mix to develop a chatbot to talk and guide young people through its website. The chatbot will help young people find relevant resources on things like bullying, drink and drugs, mental and sexual health and homelessness.

Over an eight-month period, a team of technologists at J.P. Morgan are giving The Mix over 500 hours of their time to co-design and develop the software through a program called Force for Good. For context, two chatbots The Mix developed itself, covering smaller sections of its website, took its staff six to nine months to develop each.

The chatbot has the potential to greatly improve the website’s user-journey as currently young people must rely on its search function, which isn’t optimal unless young people know exactly what they are looking for. It will also be able to direct young people to The Mix’s crisis textline or phoneline service if they are experiencing high levels of distress.

Leap Confronting Conflict and Oliver Wyman: digital audit

Sometimes a private sector partner doesn’t have to be involved in a new initiative but can help a charity take stock.

International management consulting firm Oliver Wyman helped youth conflict charity Leap Confronting Conflict to review their online training curriculum as well as their digital engagement with young people and partners.

Oliver Wyman provided two full-time consultants over eight weeks. Their report outlined 31 recommendations around increasing awareness, building engagement, and creating and sustaining impact. It also noted possible outcomes for each area of work and an assessment of funders who might be willing to fund the charity.

Leap has now implemented many of the recommendations, such as improving how it used its CRM system and digitising its training curriculum content (for which Leap were able to secure funding from a trust recommended by Oliver Wyman).

Some of the report’s recommendations are helping to inform the new strategy Leap is developing this year. The relationship built between the two organisations from working together has also led to one of Oliver Wyman’s partners becoming a Leap trustee, adding valuable experience to its board.

Encouraging more impactful corporate-charity partnerships through funder ‘match-making’

Delving deeper into how these partnerships were formed reveals the role funders can have ‘match-making’ between the private and charity sectors.

While The Mix discovered the opportunity to partner with J.P. Morgan by finding its Technology for Social Good programmes online, IntoUniversity was able to enter into its arrangement with OC&C because of its funding partnership with Impetus, a foundation that matches grantees with corporates from its pro bono network to help them scale their impact. Leap found out about Oliver Wyman’s social impact scheme through one of its individual donors who recommended it to them. 

From large foundations with professional staff to individual philanthropists, funders often have or can develop connections with people in the private sector. These can be leveraged to help their grantees gain access to expert support that can enable them to benefit from advancements in technology and big data analysis, that are often out of reach for most charities. Funders should use their connections to help grantees identify what partnership opportunities are out there and to introduce them to businesses who can support them.

For more on how for- and non-profit organisations can work together read NPC’s report: Building more impactful corporate charity partnershipsand for those interested in how funders can have an impact beyond grants, have a look at: More than grants collection: Pushing the boundaries of funding.

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