When developing a campaign, many nonprofits partner with companies to expand their campaign’s reach. Developing the right partnership can bring greater awareness to your mission and help you reach fundraising goals more quickly. The challenge, however, is finding the best potential partners for your organization.
As top nonprofit executives, many members of Forbes Nonprofit Council have successfully joined forces with businesses to boost their organization’s campaigns. Below, they share 12 things nonprofit leaders should consider when partnering with a company.
1. The Partner's Market And Reach
It would be productive to gain a full understanding of the partner’s market, as well as their market reach. You should make sure your partner is in alignment with your goals. You should also have clarity in the presentation of what is expected from the campaign. Look at the strengths of the partner and how they match your own strengths or bring an additional advantage. - Simone Joye, Howard University Medical Alumni Association (HUMAA)
2. Reputational Risk
Given you are likely in the conversation anyway because of some shared opportunity, reputational risk is my primary concern when considering partnerships. I always ask, "What's the worst that could happen here and would we be okay with that?" Either we are okay or we work on mitigation plans before things go south so that we are prepared. - Arthur Mills IV, New Teacher Center
3. The Role Of Each Partner
Role differentiation, complementarity, alignment and reciprocity are all critical. Be clear on what each party in the partnership is doing. Is each party necessary and/or complementary? Is everyone aligned on what the partnership is for and about? Most importantly, is each party benefiting reciprocally? - Carolyn Hart, JSI Research and Training Institute
Donors invest with nonprofits for emotional reasons, but also to see results. Understanding how each organization involved makes the deliverables happen will be important to the partnership. Your potential donors will think it is important, too, so include your accountability plan in your ask for investment. - Carlotta Ungaro, Convergent Nonprofit Solutions
5. Long-Term Viability Of The Partnership
Meaningful change in the world is not achieved overnight, so nonprofits should seek long-term partnerships with companies when possible. Rather than a singular injection of aid, the “magic” formula for campaigns to change the world for the better is undoubtedly long-term capital and skill sets from the private sector, coupled with a nonprofit's proven program design and implementation strength. - Geetha Murali, Room to Read
6. Shared Audiences
It is critical to consider the characteristics of the audience in co-marketing partnerships. A shared audience that can envision a flow from using our partners' products and services to using our organization’s services are more likely to hold our brand in favor and become our loyal customers. - Christopher Washington, Franklin University
7. The Partner's Point Of View
Look at the partnership from the company's point of view. We naturally look at the engagement from our point of view, asking if it is good for us and why we want to partner. Companies will have varying reasons for engaging with nonprofits. If we can anticipate some of their needs, we can enter the conversation well-prepared. - Tom Van Winkle, Hinsdale Humane Society
8. Responsiveness And Willingness To Collaborate Further
It is very important that the company you're partnering with is one that is responsive and willing to explore more collaborative opportunities in the future. Having common goals and missions is great, but if the level of energy and participation doesn't match, that can become a problem. Going for a corporate partnership requires you to do good research. - Patrick Coleman, GiveCentral
9. Value Alignment
One thing to consider when partnering with a company for a campaign is whether your mission and organizational values align with the company's values and brand reputation. A guiding question to ask when deliberating collaboration is whether the company is socially responsible as a corporation. Keeping the larger campaign outcomes in mind while not compromising one's values and mission is paramount. - Yolanda Watson Spiva, Complete College America, Inc.
10. Both Partners' End Goals
When I partner with a company, I'm building an alliance with a common purpose and goal in mind. We have to have the same end in sight to agree on the right path to take. I also look for partnerships that can be replicated and scaled so that others in my nonprofit circle have an opportunity to prosper as well. - Kimberly Lewis, Goodwill Industries of East Texas, Inc.
11. Opportunities For Non-Cash Giving
In this current Covid-19 environment, cash will be conserved. Make sure that campaign companies can add non-cash giving (real estate, business interest, collectibles, etc.) to the mix. Even as we turn to 2021, we are expecting we'll see more business sales which represent a unique opportunity for a charitable gift. Make sure the campaign company has that expertise or has access to experts. - Bill High, The Signatry
12. The 'Why' Behind The Partnership
The most important thing is finding out "why." Why does this partnership make sense and why is it a good fit? More than once I've told companies, "If you are just looking to write a check, we're probably not a good fit." We're looking for long-term partnerships with companies that want to weave us into the culture of their organization. Finding out the "why" is the single best thing you can do. - Howard Schiffer, Vitamin Angels