Martin Howlett November 14, 2019
Tips on matching business skills and charities together by Cheshire Connect’s CEO

How businesses and charities can work together to build stronger communities. Cheshire Connect acts as a third-party organisation that understands the needs of businesses and charities and facilitates quality matches between them to strengthen the sustainability of charities.

This is the Cheshire Connect model:


1) Ensure the business- charity match is a good fit.

Charities and businesses generally think very differently. A charity looking for links with a business sometimes does not have all the in-depth information to know what a business is looking to support. There are many ways in which a business can support the third sector and each business has different motivations. A third-party organisation who knows and understands both business culture and charity thinking can ensure the match is a good fit that will provide successful outcomes for both partners.


2) The initial introductions and conversations must quickly establish mutually beneficial outcomes.

A third- party organisation who knows both the business and charity needs will fully understand how to establish a quick win- win situation. It is a mistake to think that these initial conversations can be done cold. A third- party organisation must understand the needs and culture of the charity to be able to use their trusted relationships with businesses to have a successful first conversation. This will be very much a facilitated discussion between the business and charity to ensure that the outcomes clearly show the mutual benefits of the relationship.


3) Use established networks to find the perfect ‘match’.

It is rarely the case that charities have access to substantial business networks. A third-party organisation who is established with business networks can easily access any opportunities for partnership working with charities and businesses.


4) Do not use the ‘cold call’ approach when finding a charity/business relationship.

When businesses engage with charities, there is always a ‘business risk’ to them. Risk mitigation to a certain extent can be achieved by businesses using a trusted relationship with a third party to manage the relationship with charities. If as a charity you are looking for business support, find a local organisation that specialises in business charity relationships. Generally, they will already have strong trusted relationships with businesses that will ensure a business is more likely to engage in a meaningful way.


5) Clearly identify expectations.

Ensure that there are clear expected boundaries for the match. A Memorandum of Understanding or Terms of Engagement Agreement can achieve this. This may sound ‘over the top’, but relationships break down very quickly when either party feel disappointed with the other. A third- party facilitator will have all these in place and will know how to approach the discussions to ensure that either party understand the parameters of the ‘match’ for start to finish.


6) Working together needs careful planning

 A strategic plan for the match will ensure that both parties will be able to contribute to a timeline and outcome map as the relationship develops. The discussion around this plan is sometimes frustrating to both parties mainly due to different language and terminologies being used.


7) Long term relationships between businesses and charities are successful in gaining sustainability for the charity.

Businesses can often offer many things to a charity, from resources and funding to skills. A third- party organisation can ensure that a charity has a longer- term strategy for sustainability and facilitate multiple ‘matches’ from a particular business or number of businesses. This will ensure that interventions show impact towards the ultimate goal of sustainability for a charity. If parties can see they are making a difference towards a clear strategy, the relationships will flourish over a long- term period.


Cheshire Connect successfully matches over 200 businesses and charities a year. If you would like help as a business or a charity to achieve successful matches visit Cheshire Connect.