By: Michele Egan
Our team has been scanning the social partner landscape to see how the movement for social justice is impacting cause alliance development. We’ve seen interest expressed in a variety of ways – from allyship and advocacy to authentic employee engagement to an increase in short-term grant making and several meaningful longer-term pledges. Companies from Activision Blizzard to Wendy’s are committing significant resources to a range of nonprofits who work to improve hidden and overt issues like systemic racism in healthcare, criminal justice and education. Others are increasing direct support of business to business (B2B) services assisting Black owned businesses, like WeWork with its new grant program or with taking a strategic multi-channel initiative approach like PayPal. It is encouraging to see this meaningful deployment of resources combined with employee engagement strategies as our communities examine barriers to opportunity.
We wanted to dig a little deeper to see how nonprofit organizations are reacting and how they are adjusting their own diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) policies. In late July For Momentum held intimate roundtable discussions with corporate partner practitioners to discuss how DEI issues are influencing their relationship development process. Much of the discussion centered around how these issues impact their corporate vetting and funding acceptance policies.
Our agency has long advised that corporate partner policies are an essential tool that not only make procedures more effective, but also ensure proper stewardship of an organization’s reputation and maximize effectiveness. There are many practical benefits that can be derived from purposeful corporate partner policy development. Over the years we’ve shared best practices including corporate partner policy checklists, scorecards and other tips and tools. Now would be a good time to do a policy tune up. There’s time to make adjustments that can go a long way in accelerating activities and creating operating efficiencies as we head into the busy fall and year end season of giving.
Here are four tips to help you evaluate corporate partnership potential and assess risk:
- Audit your existing corporate partner portfolio, prospect pipeline and pending renewals to determine your baseline and understand where you are. Ideally, this work should be conducted annually and proactively — well before a time of crisis (or disaster).
- Create a scorecard and systematize the process. There are key questions and areas to analyze, starting with these elements:
- Mission alignment
- Awareness and engagement potential
- Credibility, integrity and growth potential
- Areas of conflict
- Connectivity and intersectionality with mission
- Financial stability, revenue and the possibility to leverage skills-based or budget relieving resources that can bolster how you serve your mission and constituencies
- Consult third party resources such as Civic 50 from Points of Light, America’s Best Companies for Diversity, Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index, Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work for 2020. An expert, third-party resource can be valuable if you need a fresh perspective on gray areas or you just need another set of hands to assist in vetting key opportunities.
- Empower a cross-functional, internal working group and give them an ongoing oversight role in the decision-making process.
In sharing these practical insights, our hope is to help your organization not only adapt and respond to corporate partners interested in joining you in the social justice movement, but also ensure your approach is authentic to your greater mission.