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Capturing the spirit of generosity in our communities: finding corporate partnerships that work

23 February 2021

Over the festive period you may have noticed our lovely new Home-Start logo popping up in different sections of Waitrose supermarkets. Perhaps, most excitingly, you spotted it at the end of the national institution that is the John Lewis Christmas advert.

Well, this was the public facing element of our partnership with John Lewis, Waitrose and FareShare. It was an enormous opportunity for us to partner with one of the nation’s most iconic brands, to amplify our voice and support at least 100,000 families over the Christmas period.

And as of the GiveALittleLove Live announcement on 18th December, the campaign had raised over £2.6million.

As you can imagine we’ve seen a real uplift in interest in our work and it’s an opportunity we’re determined to make the most of in 2021.

But how does an opportunity like this arise? And why were Home-Start selected?

Highlighting the urgency and importance of our work

Although we are a national charity we do suffer from a lack of awareness. The people we support are often reluctant to talk about the help they’ve received, and historically this has counted against us when pitching for opportunities like this.

This prompted us to refresh our brand in 2018.

In response to challenging times, increased demand and less public funding we needed our brand to champion the urgency and importance of our work. To increase our capacity to fundraise, to attract new volunteers and potential partners and also to influence government. 

Our new brand (developed co-creatively with Spencer du Bois) now highlights the importance of every child’s early years development.

No judgement, no state intervention, just compassionate help and expert support, Home-Start are there for parents when they need us the most, because childhood can’t wait. 

Finding a partnership that’s right

And because of this work, we weren’t required to pitch. John Lewis actually made the first move.

They were well researched and knew they wanted to partner with a ‘’lesser-known’’ grass roots organisation that was active in supporting struggling families in local communities up and down the country.

They recognised our shared brand values of compassion and community, and importantly that we are a national charity, active in local communities, who aren’t that well known.  

Peter Cross, John Lewis Partnerships Director of Customer Experience, described the decision as ‘straight forward’, and ‘an instant meeting of minds’, with the JLP brand being all about ‘food, families and community’ and Home-Start being ‘fundamentally about families in need’.

The role a strong brand plays

We’re under no illusions that our refreshed brand played a vital role in helping the John Lewis team to identify us as an organisation that ticked all their boxes.

The new brand messaging told our story well enough to entice an institution of the ilk of John Lewis to come knocking, and when they did we were ready.

Our shop window: our website, our socials and our network of local Home-Starts, who have been excellent in adopting the new brand, do a fantastic job of presenting a charity that’s, fresh, positive and fun. 

Watch the video below to see what we mean:

So how do you best place yourself for a partnership like this?

For most charities, these are the kind of partnerships that come along once in a decade. There’s no doubt that luck played its part – being seen at the right time and all. However, the old cliché is true – you make your own luck.

Make sure your brand is in order, and that doesn’t necessarily mean spending big money on a project, it could be via subtle tweaks.

Ensure your purpose is clear, the story is well told and your identity presents you as a force to be reckoned with.

And, perhaps most importantly, when the opportunity arises, be ready. Be ready to respond with creativity, energy and purpose.

Get these things right and great things just might happen.

If you want to learn more about all things brand check out our guide.

Image: Ryan ‘O’ Niel on Unsplash

Matt Hann

head of comms, Home-Start UK

Matt has worked in charity communications for over 10 years, in both UK and international focused charities. As the Head of Communications for Home-Start, Matt currently oversees all areas of communications work including brand, website development, press and media work, design, social media, and strategic planning.