Sharing is good

I don’t know whether it’s the extra pressure created by the recession or just the increasing pace and quantity of communications, but the last couple of years have felt incredibly busy. Having talked to friends, other charity CEOs, and business leaders, I know I’m not alone in this perception.

In the middle of all of this activity it can be hard to rise above day-to-day activities and to think about how networking and partnership could help deliver your charity’s mission. And when opportunities are identified it’s hard to find the necessary time commitment to make them work and to ensure they don’t just become a ‘feel good’ exercise rather than something that delivers real benefit.

At Friendship Works, we put a huge emphasis on the exchange of information and support. It’s what mentoring is all about. And we try to extend this way of working in our own business partnerships, to make sure that we think about how working in partnership can deliver mutual benefits as well as delivering our charitable mission. We’ve recently been focusing on this aspect with regards to our current corporate partnerships, to benefit from the support of other organisations, and also to offer some of our expertise in return.

As part of our ongoing partnership with London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG), The Milan Stock Exchange asked if we could provide training to some of their staff who will be supporting young people in Italy through workplace mentoring. They will be volunteering for In-Presa, a charity that works with disadvantaged young people aged 14-22 and aims to empower them to look at their lives in a more positive way.

LSEG were aware that their potential mentors needed preparing for their role, and approached us as experts in the field to deliver this. We were delighted to be part of a piece of work to share some of the knowledge we hold, and to enable more mentoring for children further afield.

In return for our input, LSEG invited a group of Friendship Works mentees to their London office to take part in their first Foundation Friday, a day of activities aimed at engaging their staff and also giving something back. The trip was a fantastic chance for some of the children we support to see business in action, and to partake in activities from a tour of the broadcast studio to a workshop on career development. They learnt valuable skills and accessed new experiences – all part of what Friendship Works services aims to deliver.

This sort of activity really shows how corporate partnerships can deliver value for both parties and isn’t just a philanthropic gesture on the part of the benefactor. We have knowledge and skills that we can use to advise, train, and mentor business organisations on how to develop and deliver their own in-house mentoring schemes. It’s all part of our work not only to provide direct services for children and young people, but to raise awareness of mentoring and to upskill communities and organisations to be able to develop their own mentoring culture.

If you’ve had any successful (or less successful!) experiences of working in partnership we’d love to hear from you about what you think is key to making it work.