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The new year is the perfect time to start thinking about your nonprofit’s corporate partnerships. Working with the right partners can go a long way in determining the success of your organization, so it’s important to ask yourself some key questions about your approach.

Are there ways to be more prepared when reaching out to potential partners?

Are you partnering with the right companies?

Are you providing enough value to your partners?

Are there ways to get more out of your partnerships?

These five tips can help you down the path toward shaping your corporate partnership strategy in 2018:

  1. Target corporate partners who share common ground with your nonprofit. Whether there is an overlap in customer base or mission and values, it’s always a good idea to partner with companies that align with your goals and ideals. It can be hard to turn down offers, but the fit has to be there. The last thing you want to do is work with a company that could make your target audience or stakeholders question your priorities; or even potentially damage your reputation. Partnering with like-minded organizations will add to your credibility and strengthen both partners in the equation.
  2. Show up with a game plan, but be open to compromise and negotiation. You want them to know that you’ve put time and energy into your proposal, but you won’t always hit the nail on the head the first time around. You should have an idea about the kinds of opportunities that will be of interest, but there’s a good chance they’ll have some additional requests. Be flexible, as long as both sides are benefiting and receiving fair value. Showing up with a list of thoughtful, creative partnership ideas, and agreeing to add or adjust based on their suggestions (within reason), is a great way to shape the kinds of investments you’re looking for.
  3. Make it worth their investment. There are plenty of ways a corporate partner can benefit from the arrangement beyond name and logo mentions in an event program. Brand recognition could be extended throughout a campaign with a creative social media series spotlighting the sponsor, and creating photo and media opportunities. Maybe you have a facility that your partner could use for company gatherings. Or maybe you can offer a desirable location for their next client appreciation party. If the employees from your partner’s organization can benefit from your services, consider putting together a special package offering that is exclusive only to them. If your nonprofit collects admission fees (museums, botanical gardens, etc.), why not offer discounted admission to the employees of your partner organization? Most employers will be thrilled to offer their employees additional benefits, especially when they come at little or no cost.
  4. Asking for more than just a financial commitment can help deepen the relationship. Companies often welcome hands-on group volunteering opportunities for their employees. Or you might create an opportunity specific to a sponsor’s expertise. Let’s say you are partnering with a financial advisor. There’s a good chance your staff has basic financial questions they’re curious about, but don’t know where to turn for advice. Why not invite one of the financial advisors to give a short presentation and answer questions for an hour each month? And doing the same thing for the people you serve in the community is a meaningful and easy way to expand your offerings. Getting more people from both organizations involved in partnership activities can only help strengthen the relationship.
  5. If the partnership isn’t going as planned, don’t be afraid to suggest changes. Despite the best intentions and efforts from both sides, occasionally, things don’t pan out exactly as planned. But there are ways to navigate that without damaging the relationship. Sometimes there’s an idea that sounded promising during the early planning stages, but turned out to be a little too ambitious. Maybe the financial advisor’s schedule doesn’t allow them to spend an hour per month with your employees. There are likely many other ways that your corporate partner can make up for that difference in value. As long as both sides are open to ongoing discussion, the partnership can continue to improve and evolve.

You’re now well on your way to securing new corporate partners for 2018 and beyond. Once that happens, are you ready to tell the world? Contact us today for a no-obligation consultation. Public Relations, Community Relations, Marketing, Social Media… we can help you implement a strategy for engagement and growth.

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