Case study: Picking the right charity partnership

Picking right charity partner 'boosts engagement'

December 16, 2014

Involve your employees in the right corporate/charity partnership and you’re almost guaranteed to raise engagement as well as funds.

With just three UK-based employees, the Sabre Charitable Trust would hardly rank in most people’s minds as a big-hitter.

Yet it has achieved some astonishing milestones, both in terms of its ground-breaking education work in Ghana and its ability to forge corporate partnerships that have a real impact on everyone involved.

In a decade, that charity has gone beyond its founder’s vision of training teachers and building schools for disadvantaged Ghanaian children.

Through its Brighter Futures programme, Sabre is transforming Ghana’s early education system, supporting the implementation of the Ghana Education Service’s five-year operational plan for kindergartens.

It also beat off competition to win a Third Sector Excellence Award in 2013 for its partnership with global professional services firm Arup.

Dominic Bond
Dominic Bond

“Choosing the right partner is pivotal when contemplating new projects,” explains Sabre’s Managing Director Dominic Bond.

“A private sector partner that can focus the combined knowledge and skills of a global workforce towards solving a particular challenge can be very powerful in helping a small charity punch above its weight.”

He adds: “A clear and strong synergy between the company’s core business activity and the charity project allows the partner to leverage its greatest asset – its employees – and deepens the engagement of staff, who are able to invest their energy into a tangible project.”

Hayley Gryc, Project Manager, Arup International Development, agrees the association with Sabre has had a positive effect on the company and its employees.

“Collaborating with local stakeholders, we’ve created a kindergarten model that canbe adapted throughout the country to vastly improve access to education. We’re helping people to develop their lives and to help others.”

Getting the internal communication right is a crucial part of a successful partnership at every stage. From enabling employees to have a voice in choosing the charity, to recruiting volunteers to support the partnership, good IC is the key to raising engagement from the venture.

Enhancing the communities in which a company operates is key to its sustainability strategy – the right charity partnership supports these objectives.

This community element was certainly a strong deciding factor for another of Sabre’s corporate partners, Tullow Oil.

“Tullow initially chose Sabre as one of our social investment projects in Ghana, where we have a large organisation and operational base.As a responsible operator we have a focus on building capacity/capability within the community, starting in schools and kindergartens,” says Stephen Golding, Tullow’s Head of Internal Communications.

Tullow launched an employee engagement drive in February 2014 with the goal of raising £120,000 to build a Centre of Excellence Kindergarten School in Sekondi, Ghana.

An intrepid group of Tullow employees have also signed up for Sabre’s Brighter Futures Marathon team and will run the New York marathon in November.

“We also support other charities close to where we’re located in Uganda, the UK, Ireland, Kenya and Cape Town,” continues Stephen.

“These charities range from helping homeless people, offering mobile medical clinics to improve access to medical facilities, and providing guidance and counselling services for 16-19 years olds to make them more employable.

“In Tullow people are constantly doing big challenges to raise money for charity,” adds Stephen.

“The Tullow team want to challenge themselves and if there is an opportunity to raise awareness and money, then that makes a huge difference. That’s why it’s important to us to choose our partner charities wisely.”

About the Sabre Charitable Trust

Sabre’s Brighter Futures Programme focuses particularly on the kindergarten sector where the needs are greatest.

Nadine Adamski
Nadine Adamski

It works in partnership with the local education authorities to make school a better place for Ghanaian children, and to encourage them to stay in education for longer.

Sabre’s Head of Fundraising Nadine Adamski, a qualified architect, first encountered the charity when she worked on the design of the sustainable kindergarten building project with Arup.

She was so inspired that she decided on a career change and joined Sabre as a professional fundraiser, initially on a grant from Vodafone.

Sabre’s programme trains teachers in techniques that are cutting-edge in Ghana, where even under-fives have traditionally been taught by rote (repetition) and have few opportunities for outside play.

Schools built under the programme use local materials and are constructed to UK and European standards.

Creative design enhances children’s lives beyond education – for example their roofs incorporate rain collection equipment that means pupils and staff can drink fresh water on site.

For more information visit www.sabretrust.org

Top tips for using IC to get the most out of charity partnerships

• Set up a network of charity champions.
• Brainstorm engaging ways to tell the story of the charity internally.
• Make people aware of the work the charity does and how your partnership is making a difference.
• Give people the chance to get involved then share their successes and show the company is behind them.
• Use internal and external social media channels to share news of the partnership to build engagement within your organisation as well as your external reputation.