By: Michele Egan
For both corporations and nonprofits, current cause partnership dynamics continue to be challenging, often including too much work hitting too little staff on both sides of the equation.
Our 2021 first-quarter cause partnership dynamics survey of senior nonprofit cause practitioners showed the biggest pain points in addition to work volume were trying to balance new partnerships with current account responsibilities and managing partner relationships effectively. In 2020:
- 81% were expected to handle an increased workload
- 60% reported flat or increased funding
- 36% saw more complex activations
- 57% said their staffing was stable
- 70% anticipate staffing to remain stable through 2021
Read the full report for a deeper dive into what we learned about nonprofit and corporate partnership dynamics.
With campaign activation complexity growing, and funding and staffing generally not, stronger internal collaboration is emerging as an effective way to rebalance, renew and get results.
What makes internal team collaboration a key success metric
Cross-functional input into concepts multiplies creativity and generates better ideas faster. Wider participation in planning uncovers more pitfalls and opportunities that can be addressed sooner. Collective learning powers upskilling across roles to so more people can cover the added work, reduce resource constraints and burnout potential. Growing together leads to deeper connections, empathy and innovation.
6 ways to improve internal partnership team performance on a budget
We recommend spending time on these 6 areas to reward your organization with greater productivity and happier teams without blowing your budget.
- Place as much importance on developing internal relationships as you do on external relationships. We know partnership teams spend hours proving the case for cause and building relationships with their corporate partners, but how many invest time building internal collaboration and team building? Stronger relationships can help improve trust amongst employees and help them feel comfortable sharing ideas and differing points of view.
- Establish a shared vision and collaborative goals for buy-in and alignment across roles ̶ marketing, communications, fundraising, operations, digital and social media. Investing the time and discussion necessary to achieve initial team buy-in and alignment creates a strong foundation for successful internal collaboration. Begin your cause partnership internal collaboration with an investment in a shared purpose and plan.
- Tap into team members’ areas of expertise and interest, regardless of their official roles. Our research has shown nonprofits get a failing grade from the corporate decision makers on bringing new ideas and presenting unique opportunities. This is where internal teams can truly help each other to bring innovation, lead with digital first and take a holistic, omni-channel approach to consumer and employee activations.
- Include team members in coordinated partnership planning. Building a culture of collaboration from the start and allowing other team members to contribute skills they may not always have a chance to use is key. This doesn’t mean adding more to your colleague’s plates but sharing work among departments can help manage burnout and support heavy work periods.
- Share ownership and responsibility for implementation excellence throughout the partnership lifecycle. Finding the right digital technology along with a balanced cadence of timely and efficient meetings, can help your teams regularly collaborate and create open dialogue across departments. This is key to creating innovative partnership strategies, activations and implementation plans.
- Apply partnership best practices in both directions. We know that open lines of communication, authenticity during challenging times and honesty when things don’t go as planned are important to successful corporate partner relationships. The same applies to your internal teams.