4 Tips for Building Effective Nonprofit-Corporate Partnerships
Historically, companies and nonprofits have approached Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) with limited expectations of the value they will realize.
Many companies look to check the box with CSR—keep up with their competition to attract employees and customers and/or to meet regulatory requirements. On the other hand, nonprofits look to CSR to provide them with critical financial resources to fund their programs.
These goals are not always aligned, and with the narrow minded approach, the full value of a potential partnership is often overlooked. What both sides are starting to recognize is that when they focus on shared goals, and build a mutually beneficial strategic partnership, together they can achieve so much more.
How can organizations and businesses best prepare themselves for these opportunities? How do you identify potential relationships, create shared goals, and establish long-lasting, effective partnerships? Here are our top four tips to get started.
Be selective – find the right partner
Not every company is a good fit for every nonprofit and vice versa. Before designing what type of partnership you want to have, take the time to identify your ideal prospective partners. Research their mission, core values, products or services, goals and overall strategy. According to the 2015 Corporate Partner Survey conducted by For Momentum, 92% of corporations stated that brand alignment is the most important factor when selecting a nonprofit partner. Bottom line: If your missions are not aligned and you cannot help them to effectively achieve their goals, how will you achieve yours?
Tell your story – articulate why you are good for one another
A common mistake companies and nonprofits make is to approach the partnership with a one-sided story focusing on how the partnership can benefit themselves. Effective story telling starts with understanding what the audience wants to hear. Identify solutions and benefits that create shared value and address their needs as well as your own. Articulate how a partnership will help achieve business objectives, engage current and future employees, add brand value, plus how working together will create a meaningful impact on the social cause.
Connect deeply – engage employees at all levels in both parties
Relationships that are only one person deep are not strong enough for either partner to rely on. When a key individual on either side moves on, a connection is lost and it is much easier for the relationship to grow weak and end. To build a solid relationship that can withstand turnover, nonprofits and companies alike should engage employees at all levels in their organizations – not just the most senior person. Cultivating multiple relationships across and throughout increases awareness, encourages more involvement, and helps ensure lasting connections.
Communicate what matters – measure success and connect regularly
The only way you’ll know if your partnership is delivering on your shared goals is to create benchmarks and track progress. Nonprofits should connect regularly with corporate partners to communicate results, celebrate success and collaborate on new opportunities. It is also important for businesses to pay attention to milestones benchmarks that are not being met. Quickly identifying these gaps helps organizations and companies work together to understand what adjustments need to be made and find solutions together.
Both nonprofits and businesses can realize meaningful benefits by working together towards common goals. Establishing an effective partnership is not easy, but these tips can help you create sustainable ones that achieve your objectives while making a greater social impact.