How to Break Up With Your Charitable Partner

Image courtesy of Brandon Couch at

Image courtesy of Brandon Couch at

Sometimes your “charity of choice” and charitable partner just doesn’t end up working out for your company. There are many ways this can happen, but it’s important to remain civil and professional throughout the process.

The last thing you want to do is ruin your reputation as a strong and dependable corporate partner. Or worse, have a negative impact on the world you seek to improve.

In contrast with the past, many successful charities and foundations have moved well beyond their days of getting by, no longer obliged to accept every donation that comes through their door. More than ever before, we’re seeing charities who are willing to refuse donations from certain companies, based on moral grounds.

You never want to be that company. 

Before moving forward with an exit strategy, try your very best to mend the partnership. Unless your partner has done something catastrophically wrong, it’s recommended that you wait out your contract and honour your commitment.

Make sure that your communications stream with your charitable partner is strong. If you don’t tell them why you want to end the partnership, maybe they’re unaware of the problem to begin with. Talk about the challenges you’re facing, be honest and give them the opportunity to remedy the situation.

It’s remarkable how a simple conversation can sometimes change things around.

A poorly managed partnership can also cause the relationship to derail. Think about changing up your main contacts and point people who manage the relationship. Managing up and scheduling a meeting between directors and executive level management–from both parties–may also help put things back on track.

Most likely, your company has signed into an agreement with a written contract and an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding). It’s crucial that you reread over these agreements, engage your legal team (if applicable) and ensure that your company remains within compliance of the agreed upon conditions.

Don’t be that corporate partner who’s continuously threatening to leave. You’ll never gain a strong partnership this way.

With that being said, don’t let a charity bully your company into doing anything it doesn’t want to do. Just because they’re called a charity, doesn’t mean every decision they make is altruistic or well-intentioned. Be sure to treat the partnership as you would other professional agreements.

Professional partnerships can sometimes take a turn for the worse. It’s simply the nature of doing business. But remember, if you’re thinking about “breaking up” with your charitable partner, be sure to take the high road, whilst mitigating risk and keeping all stakeholders’ best interests in mind.

The best way to prevent something like this from happening is by choosing a charitable partner that you know will stand the test of time. For some great tips on how to pick a charitable partner, check out my previous blog post: Finding the Perfect Match: 5 Tips for Selecting your Company’s “Charity of Choice.”

Has your company ever had a charitable partnership that turned sour? Did you overcome your differences? I welcome you to share your thoughts, opinions and best practices in the reply section below. Follow the blog for email notification updates and follow me on Twitter @CSRtist for more tips relating to all-things corporate good.

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