3-Part Series (Part 2): This is the second post in my series about what’s preventing growth in cause partnerships for nonprofit organizations as discussed in the Nonprofit Corporate Development Leadership Summit. In my first post, I outlined how cause partnerships have grown and evolved and then discussed that internal politics and structures were named most frequently as a challenge to growth in this area.
Previously I discussed that Perceptions/Attitudes were the first on our list of the Top 3 issues that nonprofit cause practitioners face within their own environment. Here’s number 2:
NUMBER 2: STAFFING/RESOURCES:
Issue: This is another issue that has been alive and well since the advent of cause marketing as well as for decades before. I’ve never heard a nonprofit professional share an opinion that they had adequate resources to get their job done effectively. In our closed-door session, NP cause staffers shared their staffing struggles related to providing adequate staff support in the area of Account Services for their corporate clients. Without adequate operational support, cause deliverables can be difficult to execute. This is a huge contributing factor to the growth in the “Jurassic Park Syndrome” Nancy Lublin spoke about at CMF11. If nonprofits can’t support cause program deliverables, we have evidence that corporations will find solutions to do it for themselves. This poses a significant risk to our trade.
- As cause increasingly becomes an integral component of an integrated marketing plan, perhaps nonprofits need to benchmark the way other key marketing functions are staffed. Examples can be found in the fields of advertising, pr, digital, social media and more. By studying effective staffing models for these marketing programs, perhaps we can apply best practices to the cause field.
- If the “for-profit” agency model seems too foreign, perhaps another idea would be to draw parallels based on the similarities between cause partners and major individual donors. Most NP executives understand that courting a major donor takes time and resources. There are many parallels. You don’t ask for a large gift on the first call. You have to spend time investing in the relationship. You have to understand the motivations and interests of the donor and spend the resources necessary to illustrate mission activities and success in those areas.
Whichever way we go about it, we must find ways to better understand and address resource and staffing scenarios to insure that cause practices will thrive and grow.