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Charity partnerships: What have we learned from our charity partners?

6 May 2021

Every 3 years, Octopus partners with new charities that we work with to deliver a tangible impact on the communities they help. The special relationships we develop with these causes teach us a lot about the challenges they face and our approach to helping them find solutions.

While we’re proud of the positive feedback we get from our partners, we know there’s always room to improve. So, we asked our latest partners to tell us what we should be doing more of to make future partnerships even better.

Focus on tackling the big challenges

Our charity partners understand the causes they support better than most. They also know what their biggest challenges are. This is one of the reasons why our funding is completely unrestricted, because it gives charities the freedom to choose where money should be spent.

Over a 3-year partnership, we want to use the insights of our new partners to remove barriers and accelerate the positive impact they have. We’ve learned that the first step to achieving this is identifying the right problems to solve.

That’s why we’ll be having deeper conversations with our new partners from the get go, taking time to understand the structural challenges they face and building a roadmap to overcoming them. Ann, CEO of Downright Excellent, suggested it could be helpful to “think of charities as small businesses”. We should help our partners to generate sustainable sources of income, while prioritising growth and impact.

Shout more about skill-sharing

Volunteering is a huge part of who we are at Octopus and remote skill-sharing became a valuable way for our people to support charities during the pandemic. We got involved with everything from IT support and web design to financial forecasting.

Our partners told us that they were not always aware of our different skillsets or how these could be used to solve their challenges. Rachel, Head of Development for the Choir with No Name, explained that it can be difficult to “translate what the charity does into what Octopus does”. We need to make more noise about the skills we can offer and share relatable examples of what has worked for other charities in the past.

Choosing the right partners

We’ve been fortunate to build long-lasting relationships with brilliant charity partners that resonate with our people. This Spring, we’re searching for two new partners – an innovative environmental charity and a game-changing health/mental health charity – to join us for the next 3 years. We’re excited to work with them and use what we’ve learned to supercharge their impact, particularly as they build back after the pandemic.

If you’re a small but ambitious charity interested in driving meaningful change, we would love to hear from you! You can find out more information and apply on our website. Applications close 14 May.

Apply to be our new charity partners!


Strengthening communities