If I were to use the term ‘commercial participator’, how many of you would know what I meant? Quite a few of you would think I was referring to corporate partnerships – those amazing companies that champion your cause to help raise funds and demonstrate their corporate social responsibility. Only a few of you would recognise the term. And yet so many charities have commercial participator relationships in place without realising and without recognising how to spot the good guys, what the legislation around the relationship is, and what to do to protect themselves from the sharks.
What is a commercial participator?
So what exactly is a commercial participator? The Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Act 2016 gives a wordy definition, but essentially it’s a company that, as a regular part of its everyday business, engages in a promotional venture a charity will benefit from.
That could be a building society charity savings account where the named charity will receive a share of interest earned. Or it could be a company like the one I work for, Majestic Publications, which is able to create publications for charities free of charge by selling advertising space to local companies to cover the production costs.
These commercial participators use the charity’s name and logo, and provide them with a service, funds or product, but they also benefit financially themselves. This is different to a corporate partnership, where a company chooses to support a charity over and above the course of their everyday business.
Finding the right commercial participator is vital
So what value do commercial participators offer charities? Good ones can raise your charity’s profile, enhance its reputation, establish useful corporate links and, most importantly, increase fundraising income. They can also provide goods and services that your organisation may not have the skillset to do or the budget to commission.