Building lasting cause partnerships requires more than compiling a database of cold prospects. Finding and keeping the right corporate partners for your nonprofit is about exploring beneath the surface and getting to genuinely know them. It’s a lot like dating. Someone can appear to be an ideal match on paper, but when it really gets down to it there are reasons you are not compatible.
Your search for the right corporate partner should begin with targeted research and networking. Start by making a list of companies whose mission and customer interests align with those of your organization. Then dig deeper. Check annual reports, partner pages, social media and press releases to learn about their current and past nonprofit relationships. How deep are their partnerships? What types of activations have they participated in? Do they have an employee engagement program? Do they share their nonprofit partner’s content on their website and social media channels. A true partnership calls for more than just a donation.
Once you have a list of ideal partners, use networking tools like LinkedIn to look for connections who can make an introduction. Share your prospect list with your staff, board and volunteers. Ask them to tap into their networks for any information they have about these companies. Learn as much as you can about their culture and decision makers before approaching them.
- Set specific outreach goals
- Look for a compatible geographic footprint and other synergies
- Take an integrated approach using emails, phone calls and even social media
- Be thoughtful, persistent, but not a nuisance
- Demonstrate your sincere interest in getting to know them by sharing interesting articles and offering congratulations on achievements
- Share stories of impact chosen specifically for this partner
- Focus pitches and discussions on mutual benefits
- Offer meaningful activations designed to deliver on key corporate goals
- Keep in mind this is a business deal, not a donation
Remember partnership development takes time and partnership planning should always be a collaborative process. Learn what is important to the partner and develop a custom package that meets their goals. Consider the importance of both consumer and employee audiences. Create appropriate ways to engage both audiences.
Keeping corporate partners once they are on board is crucial to long-term success. Foster personal relationships by introducing executive leadership to corporate staff and inviting them to relevant nonprofit meetings and conferences. Empower your team to address the unique needs of each corporate partner and to deliver on what was promised. Investing in ongoing stewardship to strengthen and maintain the relationship will yield dividends for years to come.