In the wake of a global pandemic and the upheaval the world has seen over the last year and a half, the work of nonprofit organizations for our country and communities has never been more critical. In the past, partnerships between corporations and nonprofits were more sponsorship-focused, and used primarily as a means of advertising for the corporation by linking them to causes that promoted their company’s values to the public in a positive light. But today, the relationship between corporations and nonprofits is much more progressive. Now, not only are companies and nonprofits teaming up for their own mutual benefit but for the benefit of the global community as well, as the effects of the global pandemic on our economy (low-income, at-risk communities and minority-owned businesses in particular), has necessitated more partnership opportunities than ever before.
The Importance of Partnerships
Nonprofit organizations are driven by a deep desire to make a positive difference in the world, but many lack the resources to make their mission truly effective in their communities. This is where investing time and energy into the networking side of fundraising and forming collaborative connections with companies whose values align with your mission is so critical.
Benefits of nonprofit collaboration
Investing time and energy into establishing partnerships is a critical part of ensuring your organization’s effectiveness in your community. For-profit businesses provide the necessary capital and resources to not only sustain your nonprofit, but help it grow to its full potential. So what makes these collaborations so important to the nonprofit mission?
Partnerships Strengthen Mission
Partnerships demonstrate to funders that other organizations believe in the mission and activities of your nonprofit. The more support you can garner for your work, the more credibility it will have to potential funders. Funders want to know that their financial contribution is fueling a worthwhile project that will have a genuine and lasting impact on the larger community. The more widely your vision is shared, the more confidently a funder will view their contribution to your organization.
Partnerships Demonstrate Effectiveness
Funders believe that with a partnership(s), they will get more “bang for their buck.” In other words, the stronger your organization’s partnerships, the more people are being served, stretching their financial contribution as far as possible. Like all of us, funders want to know that they will get more for their money.
Partnerships are Often Required
Many Government agencies and larger foundations require (or at the very least recommend) partnerships. Community collaboration is essential to obtain larger amounts of funding from larger organizations. The more partnerships your organization can establish, the greater the chances of securing substantial amounts of funding revenue.
4 Ways to Find Partnerships
Ok, so you’re convinced that you need collaborators to help your organization’s mission to succeed. Now what? Where do you begin the daunting task of acquiring these essential connections? Here are a few guidelines to help you get started:
Keep It Local
Take some time to research existing organizations/corporations in your area that already have an established presence in your community. These might include larger companies whose headquarters are located in your city. What about local sports teams, or branches of larger companies? Do these companies have a history of partnering with local charities and/or causes? A shared vision for who and how your nonprofit is helping is a make-or-break factor in establishing a meaningful and lasting partnership.
Keep It Compatible
Look for companies whose resources and value make sense as a partnership with the work your organization is doing. A local or national grocer or food producer makes sense as a corporate partner for a food bank working to address food insecurity in their local community.
Make It Personal
Make a list of connections you may already have. Know a business owner? How about board members, staff or family connections? Don’t be afraid to ask people in your network for referrals.
Keep It Mutual
Once you’ve compiled a list of potential collaborators, research the company’s values to make sure they align with the work your organization is doing, and that their corporate identity is one you would be comfortable publicly linking arms with. Corporate collaborations significantly impact the public perception of both organizations, so it’s important that your values align and are mutually beneficial.
Now that you’ve established a list of local companies whose values align with your organization’s goals, it’s time to reach out, but meaningful collaboration involves far more than just a one-time connection. Approach your potential partners with respect and genuine value, rather than just a “means-to-an-end” attitude. Establish a clear vision for how you might benefit from collaborating with one another, but also communicate a sincere desire for a long and meaningful relationship with your shared goals and vision. Remember that more than anything else, these connections do far more than just meeting your organization’s financial needs. The bigger picture is a widely shared vision and mission to make a lasting positive impact in our communities and our world!