The art of attracting a Royal patron: tips and strategies for success
By Andrew Middleton
Gaining royal patronage can be a game-changer for a charity, bringing attention to its cause and providing a sense of credibility that can open doors and attract support. Having worked with two charities to to secure patronages from members of the Royal Family, I can report that it is a challenging but ultimately rewarding experience that taught me a lot about the power of philanthropy and the importance of building relationships.
In addition this work has allowed me to attend a variety of events and engagements where I have had the opportunity to meet and interact with members of the Royal Family. These experiences have been truly unforgettable and I feel incredibly grateful to have had the chance to participate in them.
choose your patron carefully
Attracting Royal patronage is a great achievement which can provide a sea change for a charity, helping to achieve its goals and make a lasting impact on its communities. It can provide the resources, networks, support and profile a charity needs to grow and expand its reach, allowing it to make a positive difference in the lives of those it serves. But it’s not necessarily ideal for all charities.
The most important factor in seeking patronage is finding a patron who shares your charity's values and goals and is committed to supporting its mission. The best fit may not be a member of the Royal Family but some other well-known individual from another sphere, such as port, entertainment or business. Think carefully and choose someone with whom you can build a strong relationship and work together to achieve the charity’s goals.
seek influential guidance
Start by seeking out advice and guidance from experts in the field, who will help you to consider what qualities and values would make for a suitable patron and assess your charity’s suitability for Royal patronage. An essential ingredient for me was having the support, advice and commitment of the Lord Lieutenant. There is a Lord Lieutenant in each county in the UK, who serves as the King's representative.
A Lord Lieutenant has a deep understanding of the Royal Family and the protocol around Royal patronage. They hold significant influence and connections within the community and their involvement can lend credibility to a charity's cause, providing a valuable endorsement that can help attract potential patrons.
In my case, working closely with the Lord Lieutenant allowed us to tap into their network of contacts and gain insights into how to approach potential patrons in a way that would be most appealing to them. The Lord Lieutenant's endorsement also provided a level of assurance to potential patrons that the charity was reputable and deserving of their support.
In the second instance, I sought advice from a Royal observer, who suggested that approaching one of the less senior Royals might be a more feasible approach. These individuals may be more accessible and have more flexibility in their schedules, making it easier to engage with them and build a relationship.
plan your approach
The work required in securing Royal patronage should not be underestimated. It’s rare for a charity to simply send a letter to a member of the Royal family and receive a positive response. The process requires a significant amount of effort, time and resources and for many charities it simply won’t be feasible. It may take several months or even years of consistent effort and communication to establish a relationship with a potential patron and demonstrate the value and impact of the charity's work.
So it's important to approach the process with patience and a long-term perspective. You need to invest time in building a relationship with your potential patron. This may include personalised briefings, meetings and events, as well as ongoing communication and updates on the charity's work.
Don’t just give them the usual pitch. Put in the hours to research their passions and interests and produce bespoke briefings that match those sentiments. While existing materials can provide a good starting point, tailoring the briefing to the potential patron's known interests will give you a much better chance of capturing their attention and engaging them with the charity's cause.
Use all the skills at your disposal, such as confidence and planning. You may find the skills you need among the trustees, as well as the leadership. It is important to ensure that the entire organisation is aligned and committed to the process of securing Royal patronage, as it requires a significant investment of time and resources.
a royal success
I have found the Royal patrons I have worked with to be truly amazing individuals, who brought a great deal of passion and commitment to their roles. Their involvement had a real impact on the charities I worked with, giving them a sense of credibility and opening doors that may have been previously closed. It has been an honour and a privilege to work with them, and I believe that their involvement has made a lasting difference for the charities they supported.
So if you think it would benefit your charity to gain Royal patronage, here is a recap of the key steps.
Ten steps for gaining Royal patronage
- Identify the values and goals of the charity and determine if Royal patronage aligns with them.
- Research members of the British Royal Family to identify potential patrons who share the charity's values and interests.
- Seek advice and guidance from experts, including the Lord Lieutenant, to determine the best approach for securing Royal patronage.
- Tailor briefing materials to each potential patron's interests and passions.
- Build a relationship with the potential patron by engaging with them and attending events they are involved in.
- Consider the timing of the approach to ensure that it aligns with the potential patron's availability and schedule.
- Ensure that the entire organisation is committed and aligned with the process of securing Royal patronage.
- Be prepared to put in a significant investment of time and resources.
- Seek advice and guidance from individuals who have already secured Royal patronage and learn from their experience.
- Maintain a strong relationship with the Royal patron and ensure
ABOUT ANDREW MIDDLETON
Andrew Middleton is a seasoned non-profit consultant with a deep passion for strategy and a keen interest in helping charities optimise their profiles. With over a decade of experience in the sector, he brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to his work. Andrew is committed to driving social impact and helping non-profits achieve their goals, leveraging his strategic approach and expertise in building strong, effective charity profiles.
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