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Innovative Partnerships

Looking at Equitable Partnerships between Charities and Corporations

office workers joining hands
office workers joining hands

As we highlight some of Canada’s most innovative partnerships, I think it’s important that we reflect on the definition of partnership. What is a partnership?

In our context, a partnership is an arrangement where parties agree to work together to advance their mutual interest.

In this section, you’ll read about many innovative partnerships where corporations and charities are working together to achieve social impact. These partnerships acknowledge that each party brings something special and unique to the table and that the goals of the partnership could not be achieved without the other.

When it comes to partnerships between charities and corporations, most people believe that the corporation holds the power because it is one that is writing the cheque. But by taking a more holistic view of partnerships that recognizes the full scope of what both parties bring to the table, we can lay the foundation for a more equitable partnership paradigm.

Let’s take a broader look at what each party brings to the table in a corporate-charitable partnership.

A corporation may bring:


Employment Opportunities

Access to its Client Base

A charity may bring:

Impactful programs

Sponsorship opportunities (access to the charity’s audience)

Volunteer opportunities

Community knowledge

Last year, our firm, Spire Philanthropy, worked with SEPHORA Canada, the retailer of personal care and beauty products, on the rollout of its Charity Rewards program. The program allows SEPHORA Canada clients to convert their Beauty Insider loyalty points into cash and donate them to a featured charity. What a great idea!

Diversity and Inclusion is at the heart of SEPHORA. One of the company’s core strategic goals is to make the company and its stores an inclusive environment where everyone feels welcome. SEPHORA Canada quickly realized that its charitable partners could become an important part of that story. For example, during one month, SEPHORA Canada profiled The 519, a well-respected charity focusing on the LGBTQ community. While the partnership started with SEPHORA customers donating their Beauty Insider points, the partnership quickly grew into something more substantial, with each partner bringing more to the relationship.

Let’s take a look a what each partner potentially receives in this relationship

SEPHORA Canada receives:The 519 receives:
Access to potential volunteer opportunities for SEPHORA Canada employees Donations that are directed through the conversion of Beauty Insider points
Valuable insights and advice from The 519 on how it can make its stores a more inclusive environment for members of the LGBTQ community Greater visibility by having the organization profiled to SEPHORA Canada’s client base
Advice on how it can recruit prospective employees from the LGBTQ community Potential access to employment opportunities for members of its network

The partnership is about more than money. It’s about each partner benefitting from the other party’s knowledge, insights and audience. It’s not transactional. It’s a genuine partnership where each party benefits through its relationship with its counterparty. And that’s how partnerships truly succeed.

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