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Why Partnerships are Important to Non-Profits

With the ever-increasing demands of staying relevant, technological advances, and economic shifts, the work of nonprofit organizations has never been more critical. In the past, partnerships between corporations and nonprofits were more sponsorship-focused, used primarily as a means of advertising for the corporation by linking them to causes that promote their company’s values to the public in a positive light. But today, the relationship between corporations and nonprofits is much more progressive. Companies and nonprofits are teaming up for their own mutual benefit but for the benefit of the global community as well as due to the after-effects of the global pandemic on our economy. Several different segments of our population are at a greater disadvantage, such as low-income, at-risk communities and minority-owned businesses in particular, which 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. As we’ve seen and noticed in the grant profession, relationships are critical to success. For example, nonprofits can partner with businesses to support their events and programs in exchange for sponsorship opportunities and fundraising. Investing time and energy into building relationships with various types of funders is so critical to mission sustainability. 

Benefits of Nonprofit Collaboration

Collaborative efforts enable nonprofits to address complex community issues more effectively and sustainably foster a sense of shared responsibility and mutual growth. Therefore, building and nurturing community partnerships is an integral part of strategic planning for nonprofits (Instrumentl, 2024). 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.

  • Increased visibility

Partnerships can help nonprofits reach a wider audience and increase their visibility, which can improve their reputation and credibility. This can lead to greater community trust and participation. Community partnerships have a more extensive reach and will positively affect more lives.

  • Partnerships are Often Required

Many Government agencies and larger foundations require (or at the very least recommend) partnerships. Community collaboration is essential to obtaining larger amounts of funding from larger grantmakers. The more partnerships your organization can establish, the greater the chances of securing substantial amounts of funding revenue. 

  • Sustained impact

Long-term partnerships can allow nonprofits to plan and execute more ambitious projects with a greater sustained impact. Efficient resource utilization demonstrates that funds are being used effectively and responsibly. In addition to this, the broad community impact also indicates sustainability, which funders consider desirable to ensure their contribution will have a significant and lasting impact.

Three 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 values align with your organization’s work. Make sure 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. For example, 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. Once you’ve compiled a list of potential collaborators, check your networks to see “who knows who.” You can also use different tools like social media or email newsletter updates to reach out as well and try inviting potential partners for site visits and/or out to different organization events so you can interact with each other and strengthen the relationship.

Reaching Out

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” formula. Establish a clear vision for how you might benefit from collaborating with one another, and also communicate a sincere desire for a long and meaningful relationship with your shared goals and vision. Remember, these connections do far more than meet 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! 

ReferencesInstrumentl. (2024, January 19). Nonprofit Community Partnerships: A Success Guide for 2024. Retrieved from