Both society and a corporation’s standing can profit tremendously from a nonprofit corporate partnership. When a nonprofit aligns itself with the right corporation, it should result in a mutually-beneficial relationship that unearths the potential for maximizing the greatest good.
With a commitment “…to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all”, the UN developed its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These 17 goals, representing the world’s most pressing problems, were designed to be addressed in the next decade (by 2030).
“The urgency of this decade demands that all sectors of society galvanize to secure greater participation and leadership, more resources and improved, game-changing solutions to address increasing inequality and the escalating climate emergency.” — United Nations, Sustainable Development Goals, 2030 Agenda (UNSDG | Decade of Action)
Strategic nonprofit corporate partnerships may be the most impactful way to achieve the SDGs. While nonprofit funding in all its forms is beneficial, the strategic corporate partnership holds the greatest potential to advance missions that can change society.
“Indeed, we are learning that the most effective method of addressing many of the world’s pressing problems is often to mobilize the corporate sector in ways that benefit both society and companies.” -Mark E. Kramer and Michael E. Porter, The Competitive Advantage of Corporate Philanthropy
When a nonprofit corporate partnership stands the test of time over years, it can truly explore and actualize all that is possible for the greatest good, unearthing manifold benefits and rewards. The end result should be a win-win for companies and nonprofits, and ultimately society.
What are 10 Ways a Nonprofit Corporate Partnership Can Benefit All?
For the nonprofit, the right strategic corporate alignment provides expansion in all directions — and can be the catapult nonprofit’s ability to make an impact on society. We’ll start with
Since funding — to hire, create more robust marketing, develop programs and more — is the top roadblock to advancing a mission, this is typically the top priority for nonprofits. According to HBR, companies spend $20B on Corporate Social Responsibility annually and those are dollars that could be spent, in part, by corporate partners of your nonprofit. Unlike philanthropy, partnerships are typically structured in a way that allows for recurring revenue streams for several years or more.
2.) In-Kind Contributions
A nonprofit corporate partnership can enable nonprofits to incorporate a company’s product or service into their organization, either through a trade out or by advancing the technology they use. A simple example would be a partnership with a computer manufacturer that could result in the replacement of older equipment for the nonprofit. Beyond simple products or services, the sharing of expertise of a given partner could drastically improve the trajectory and scale of a nonprofit and its initiatives.
The opportunity for advancing the mission with new audiences and existing ones can be amplified with the right corporate partner. In a partnership, you can develop unique ways to advance your message/mission for their employees and their customers, whether it be through messaging, cause marketing campaigns, promotions, or advertising.
Doing a deep dive into partnership compatibility is the first and most important step with the end result of an alignment of philosophy, values, principles, and visions to further the mission. That company’s overall strategy and audience should resonate with the mission of your nonprofit. When a partnership is created with these foundational values in mind, it allows for the execution of impactful marketing programs that can only be realized with aligned partners.
Volunteers are often the lifeblood of a nonprofit, whose support allows for the nonprofits to maximize their mission efforts. A shortage of volunteers can prove disastrous to nonprofits and limit their ability to run campaigns, fundraise or take care of those they serve. Having an aligned partner whose employees are eager to volunteer can provide certainty that programs and campaigns can be run. It is also important to note that the skill sets of a partner’s employees are more easily identified and thus more easily directed to the appropriate need.
The potential also exists for corporate partners to provide board member candidates, and thought leaders with skill sets and experience that can help guide a nonprofit to a more secure future.
5.) Matching Gifts
According to DoubletheDonation.com 65% of Fortune 500 companies offer a matching gift. Depending on the company, it can be 3x or 4x the original donation. Having employees directly aware and working with your organization is a great way to steer their individual giving. Multiply the number of corporate partners you work with and the number of aligned employees, you’re looking at a healthy increase in giving.
A thriving partnership is made up of diverse, yet complementary organizational strengths.
While your organization may be great at uncovering issues and activating solutions, it may struggle to amplify the importance of this work. Corporations have a vast amount of resources at their disposal that could elevate your nonprofit to new levels. For example, they could provide the necessary demographic, geographic, and behavioral characteristics that could be invaluable for co-developing Marcom, messaging, cause marketing campaigns, promotions, and advertising for your organization.
Nonprofits also provide tremendous value to corporations. For the corporation, the right strategic nonprofit alignment could amplify a cause that integrates well with their overall strategy as well as provides a lift to their brand, customers, employees, suppliers, and communities.
6.) Improved brand image
Standing out from one’s competitors is the name of the game. Being associated with a well-respected nonprofit organization can do wonders for a brand. Consumers are actively pursuing brands that support social causes, so association alone could increase sales and profits and new customer acquisition.
7.) Marketing and communication
While a partner corporation has extensive reach, they would also like to see your constituents as customers or at least show affinity to your brand. If partners are appropriately aligned, this should not be of major concern. Additionally, supporting a nonprofit organization that provides good marketing reach can be relatively less expensive than typical marketing and advertising efforts. Word of mouth, media stories, and social media are all possibilities for the brand as they connect with your nonprofit.
8.) Nonprofit Corporate Partnerships Provide a Platform for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
Today corporations and brands continue to put Corporate Social Responsibility plans and teams in place to be responsible stewards, having a nonprofit corporate partnership provides a platform or vehicle to showcase their efforts. The more impactful the work with a given nonprofit the better the opportunity to tell the story.
As all stakeholders demand more effort to drive social impact, transparency around the products and services, and putting the significant profits to important causes, having a nonprofit partner who aligns can prove invaluable. According to Harvard Business School online, “A majority of American consumers (55 percent) believe it’s important for companies to take a stand on key social, environmental, and political issues.”
9.) Attract and retain employees
Employees are leaving companies or intending to leave companies at an alarming rate with 1 in 4 employees looking to change companies after the pandemic according to Prudential Financial’s Pulse of the American Worker survey.
The numbers may prove to be higher if employees are not allowed to continue working remotely. According to Gallup, “The cost of replacing an individual employee can range from one-half to two times the employee’s annual salary — and that’s a conservative estimate.” (BY SHANE MCFEELY AND BEN WIGERT, Gallup article )
One of the key reasons for this departure has to do with culture. Employees want to work for “good companies” that do more than making profits. Having a strong corporate social responsibility strategy and aligning with nonprofits can be key to keeping those prized employees and attracting new ones.
Partnering with a nonprofit not only puts key social issues at the forefront but also provides impactful employee engagement opportunities that would not otherwise exist, boosting morale and providing a sense of doing good.
10.) A Nonprofit Corporate Partnership Provides Competitive Advantage in the Marketplace
When looking at the expectations of today’s consumers from a competitive standpoint, one can see that a socially-minded corporation partnered with the right nonprofit is extremely beneficial.
For example, a recent study from Cone research said that 87% of consumers will buy based on a cause that a company supports!
“Although companies may have traditionally looked at CSR through the lens of the business footprint, consumers are no longer taking such a narrow view on how companies can make a positive impact. Now, consumers expect companies to not only address issues that impact their operation but also tackle broader societal challenges.” -2017 Cone CSR Report
Today, customers want to buy from those they like and trust.
The Benefits of Nonprofit Corporate Partnerships are Exponential
When it comes to corporate partnerships, nonprofits should look at themselves not as charities, but as true, value-providing partners. What many nonprofits do not understand is that, with the increased emphasis on Corporate Social Responsibility, a nonprofit’s intangible brand assets have the potential to increase a corporation’s social capital. This enables it to grow into a much higher tier of financial gain, brand loyalty, and overall admiration. Read again, nonprofits can and should provide unique tangible value to their corporate partners.
Although many corporations desire to make strides toward contributing to the greater good, there are factors that prevent them from doing this on their own. An aligned nonprofit corporate partnership not only contributes to this but can ultimately be the difference-maker in expanding a corporation’s horizons. These partnerships can open its customer base up to a host of audiences that it otherwise would not have had access to.
On the corporate side, according to a report by Porter Novelli, CSR reporting changed in 2020. Storytelling is still very important, but it can no longer stand on its own; data that shows how a company’s actions were impactful must be disclosed — and data that tells a story can only be produced over time. (Follow Porter Novelli on Twitter)
Doing a deep dive into partner compatibility is the first and most important step towards an effective and valuable partnership. The alignment of philosophy, values, principles, and visions will lead to dollars, resources, and furthering of the mission. When a partnership is created with these foundational values in mind, it allows for the execution of impactful programs that can only be realized through extensive collaboration and exploration. Coming together in partnership is a benefit to us all.
If you’re interested in a no-pressure conversation to see if we’re able to help you out, contact us.
Photo Credit: By MintBlak | Adobe Stock