By: Rich Maiore, Vice President, For Momentum
Well, Valentine’s Day 2017 is in the books. It was a great day at the Maiore house. My wife loved the snow blower I bought her. Now before you say, “Rich, you didn’t!”—let me explain.
Relationships can be tricky and require knowing what your partner truly wants. We’ve had a lot of the white stuff here in the Boston area lately, and my wife loves the instant gratification of a clear path that the snow blower brings.
Cause partnerships are a lot like our personal relationships. After the initial excitement of finding the right partner, it takes some hard work, good communication and knowing what each partner really wants to achieve long-term success.
Corporations have been supporting communities for many years, but when the first cause marketing programs were introduced, they signaled an important shift in nonprofit and for-profit relationships. The change was ensuring that both the companies and the nonprofits reaped the partnership rewards. Now, more than 20 years later, cause marketing is an established way for both partners to achieve significant bottom-line results and community impact.
Still, a lot needs to happen between the first date and a true cause marketing partnership. When handled correctly, companies are making long-term commitments to causes. Over time, the cause becomes part of the corporate identity and culture.
Companies want these long-term relationships. They are looking for national causes with local activation possibilities. Identifying with a cause helps the business connect with customers, employees, investors, suppliers and the community. Millennials—today’s largest generation, born between 1980 and 1997—are well known for thinking with their hearts when they consider where to work or where to spend their money.
Nonprofits at every level—local, regional and national—are looking for true corporate partners. Remember, like all relationships the most important thing is knowing what your partner really wants. Corporate partners are looking to align their support of a cause with a key business objective. They are looking for a nonprofit that can provide brand assets and employee engagement opportunities. In return, the nonprofit should be able to reach new audiences, share marketing exposure and increase revenue.
Here are a few additional cause marketing relationship tips:
Companies fall in love with nonprofit partners who understand and focus on corporate business objectives and provide full service support including:
- Customized approach based on company’s business needs and resources
- Turnkey promotional materials: creative, content, messages via digital site
- Dedicated team with a designated contact
- Lead time of 4-10 months
- Support in developing and implementing campaign measures
- Activation and support from nonprofit’s local chapters
Nonprofits return the affection by:
- Creating online sites and playbooks for partners
- Hosting annual summits to share successes and synergies, and to inspire planning and invite prospects
- Annual planning meetings with priority partners
- Assigning dedicated account staff to priority partners
- Developing content packages for corporate partners
- Conducting training for corporate development staff and regional/local offices
For Momentum’s Cause Partnership Sales Cycle Research reveals that a true, integrated cause partnership takes more than a year to develop. And small asks in the beginning are easier to convert over time when you are engaged and really working together with your partner to make an impact. So be sure to nurture the relationship once you find the right partner.
Contact me to discuss how to develop long-term, fruitful cause partnerships. Or, if you need some gift advice! I’m already working on ideas for next Valentine’s Day.