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Corporate partnerships will become increasingly commercialised over the next decade, with charities under pressure to boost the profits of businesses. This means that there will be a greater focus on delivering business strategy and in providing deliverables that any hard-nosed commercial organisation would recognise. Alongside this trend is the growth in shared goals; large ESIF contracts will effectively be shared amongst collaborations of commercial and third sector groups, something unthinkable even ten years ago.

Companies will increasingly look for business benefits through partnerships with the voluntary sector, such as those that help make employees more creative and entrepreneurial, those that improve their brand and reputation, and those that create ideas for products and services. Charities and the Third Sector generally need to find effective, robust and reliable evaluation measures that mean something in the commercial sector.

Opportunities for growth

So what are the trends that are having an impact upon the Third Sector and how can knowing them aid your organisation?

Guilt-free status.
People are animals of habit and convenience which creates powerful dilemmas in buying behaviour and consumer trends; using resources damages the plant=e and this in turn builds up a guilt- spiral. Use this to your advantage and give your donors the chance to change the world with benefits to both people and the planet. Promote green credentials and promote sustainability through tree-planting or ethical alignments with well-known brands.

Crowd-shaped.
The role of the crowd has never been more important; share data and really exploit what commercial organisations have done for some time and invest in effective and efficient direct and interactive marketing tools. How often have you seen the ‘other customers also viewed…’ pop-up? Really get to know how potential donors connect and stay connected to you. Use your supporters to get your message out there.

Feeling Good.
Harness the positives of donation and feeling proud/happy/inspired that comes from donation or practical involvement in the charity. Think outside just the act of donation – what can you do, copying the customer care model, to generate donor and supporter delight?

Using Data to its best advantage.
Be honest about the data you hold on donors and supporters. Be clear on what information you hold and what you intend to do with it. Tesco and their database of 700 million individual records on 700 million potential customers does not operate in such an open way – be very open about how you use data so as not to alienate those who you rely upon.

There are plenty of opportunities for charities to get closer to their stakeholders, to understand them better and create new ways to serve their needs – that builds relationships which have value. With seven years experience as a senior manager working for Leonard Cheshire Disability (designing a multi-layer accredited Management Development Programme for 2,500 Staff and Volunteers) and three years Trustee experience with regional Domestic Violence and Social Inclusion charities I have a thorough understanding of the challenges and pressures in the sector.

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