INTOUCH : Comment on Tangible Sponsorships

We are lucky in New Zealand. When charities seek support Kiwis usually dig deep, and international research shows we are pretty generous bunch. But the not-for-profit sector is crowded market place; competition for the charity dollar is strong and organisations can no longer rely on public goodwill alone. Increasingly, we must turn to our corporate friends for help.
However, that creates its own set of challenges. After all, how do you choose one particular not-for-profit when there are others in the queue, just as keen to work with you?
The Leukaemia & Blood Foundation (LBF) has received incredible support from New Zealand businesses. We are extremely proud to call Holden New Zealand, Fidelity Life, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Bell Gully our sponsors. There are also host of companies, SkyCity, Air New Zealand and Pascoes among them, whose incredible generosity has been invaluable to our work. I would struggle to name one single factor that has nurtured those relationships. Really there is range of key ingredients, each of them vital.
Firstly, of course, the cause. Perhaps I’m biased but I believe the companies that get behind us really believe in what we do. And so do their workforces. We appreciate the many opportunities we are given to talk to employees about our work and I’m always amazed by how many lives have been touched by these diseases.
But maybe that’s not surprising. The LBF is dedicated to the care and cure of patients with leukaemia, lymphoma, myeloma and related blood conditions. And the numbers of New Zealanders affected are considerable; an average of six children and adults are diagnosed each day.
An important factor in our relationships with sponsors is making sure we have tangible initiatives to engage their staff.
For instance, our signature fundraiser is Shave for Cure, where participants seek sponsorship to shave their heads. The response from our business friends has been humbling, quite frankly.
By way of example, in November last year PricewaterhouseCoopers and Bell Gully held their third Shave challenge which raised $120,000. Each year, these two enterprising companies have dreamt up fun forfeits for the firm raising the least money and their originality has been truly inspirational.
The beauty of this kind of fundraising is that it is enormous fun. As well as providing great personal challenge, it encourages healthy competition between teams, and even other companies.
This year, Air New Zealand CEO, Rob Fyfe, bravely lost his locks for the LBF. We were extremely moved when his wife Donna and son Nichol joined him, as well as number of his staff. Between them they raised around $50,000. Wow.
Personally, I love to see the leadership it inspires, not only from the management teams – whose buy-in and support is key – but often from someone quite unexpected within the firm. We attend as many events as possible and they are always unique. The one feature they share though is spirit of camaraderie, which is really special.
Also important are our Sponsor Network meetings with our fabulous sponsor companies. Not only do they share their expertise with the LBF, and network with each other, it helps them understand just how valuable their sponsorship is to us. Feedback has been fantastic.
We also aim to make each interaction not only meaningful, but fun, and seek to provide volunteering experience for staff where possible. For example, we were able to link up Bell Gully’s summer clerks and LBF patients.
Finally, I would say an essential factor is the importance we place on these relationships. They are certainly not just about collecting dollars for the LBF; they are about creating enduring partnerships that add value to both organisations. I truly value the friendships, the depth of involvement, and the huge support, which enables us to proceed with
confidence.

Pru Etcheverry is executive director of the Leukaemia & Blood Foundation. www.leukaemia.org.nz

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