Corporate partnerships can be an important part of your nonprofit’s portfolio of support. In 2016, nearly $17 billion dollars was given to charities via corporate funding, according to Double the Donation.
However, the idea of soliciting businesses can seem daunting. Where do you start? Who should you prospect? How should you craft your ask? Razoo is here to unpack it all with some tips from Maria Booker, a corporate partnerships expert from the Capital Area Food Bank.
What are corporate partnerships?
Corporate partnerships are strategic partnerships that align a nonprofit organization with for-profit organization support. There are a few key pieces of information to unpack in this definition:
- Strategic — One-time support is always welcome, but impact is an important consideration for corporations. Consider how you can secure the company’s long-term support.
- Aligning — Make sure when you prospect that you’re looking for partners whose philanthropic values align with your mission. If you work at a hunger relief organization, make sure you know if that’s one of the company’s philanthropic focuses before you reach out.
- Support — Support can take a variety of forms: It may be ongoing volunteer support from employees. It may mean strategic services like a graphic design company that helps you revamp your website. Or, it could mean funds.
Tips for securing corporate partners
According to Maria Booker, partnerships manager at the Capital Area Food Bank, “The sooner we all embrace that we can’t be everywhere and do everything, the sooner we can move into having an effective partnership.”
“We are looking for someone who can help us accomplish what we can’t do on our own,” Booker says. “We are looking for someone to believe in our work and embody the values we embody.”
Booker recommends considering the three “W’s”before prospecting new partnerships:
- What can you not accomplish on your own?
- When is the right time?
- Who is the right person/entity to augment your work?
Then, think about what can they provide for you in this partnership: Funds, Marketing, Resources or Strategic Involvement?
Growing the partnership
Now that you’ve snagged your ideal corporate partner, how do you grow the partnership with the limited resources you have?
Booker suggests patience and a bit of stewarding: One of their most successful partnerships started with a company whose employees came to the warehouse once a month to volunteer. After months of successful stewarding — with personalized greetings from the team, highlighting them on social media and following up after their visit with a special thanks — they asked for funds.
The corporation ended up providing a $10,000 matching gift for their 2016 #GivingTuesday campaign, which helped them to secure the spot as Mightycause’s top raising organization for the day.
Make a corporate partner feel appreciated for what they can offer you, and once they feel comfortable they’ll likely to increase their level of support.
If it doesn’t work, move on
“The worst outcome of a partnership is that it damages your brand,” Booker says. Don’t try to make a partnership work if it’s not in line with your mission. You can always go back to the prospective partner once you find an opportunity that may be better suited for them.
Finally, Booker stresses the importance of making sure the partnership feels “right” to you. A few years ago, the Capital Area Food Bank decided it would no longer provide junk food to its clients. This meant turning down donations, such as baked goods and sheet cakes, from all their grocer partners. In the end, the grocers got on board and committed to only providing healthy donations.
Recognize your partners on Razoo
Stewardship is another key piece of growing your partnerships. On Mightycause, you can highlight your sponsors for your walkathon or 5k team fundraiser by using the “Sponsors” section. For example, American Preparatory Academy highlighted their 11 walk sponsors on their team page in April:
You can also highlight matching gifts on Mightycause on either your fundraiser or organization page. Studies show that matching grants can increase your donations by 30%! Once the grant has been fulfilled, an email gets sent to the grantor to encourage them to make their donation.
For more best practices on corporate partnerships and specific examples of how Maria secured top partnerships for the CAFB, check out Mightycause’s recent webinar.