By: Michele Egan
Imagine if corporate partnerships worked like popular dating apps– swipe right if interested. If only it was that easy to find the right corporate partner! Instead it takes diligent planning and careful stewardship to attract and retain corporate partners. Now is the time to begin your partnership planning for 2019.
Corporate philanthropy is rapidly evolving. Today, more consumers and employees expect companies to take a leadership role in solving important social issues. One of the best ways for companies to address social problems is to partner with nonprofit organizations.
Earlier this year, For Momentum asked corporate partnership decision-makers from a wide variety of business sectors what they look for in a nonprofit partner. Based on 2018 results and comparative data from our 2015 survey, we know that companies look to be a force for good to differentiate themselves in the marketplace. At the same time, companies are becoming more strategic as they search for nonprofit partners who align with their social purpose and their brand.
So, what do corporate decision-makers look for in nonprofit partnerships? Impact and stories to demonstrate impact are a near universal need expressed by all of our survey respondents. Nine out of ten corporate decision-makers rank the following top three factors for partner selection:
- Creating Awareness And Visibility
- Brand/Mission Alignment
- Showcasing Community Support/Social Responsibility
Multi-faceted partnerships to increase brand awareness that benefit both partners are the goal. 360 awareness integration through all available channels – yours and your partners’ – cause marketing, digital, volunteer events, media relations and affiliate participation create visibility.
Brand/Mission Alignment is ranked near the top of the list for partner selection by our survey participants. When asked to choose the single most important factor there was a tie between Brand/Mission Alignment and Showcasing Community Support/Social Responsibility with 57% each. Interestingly, in our 2015 survey, results were quite different. 92% chose Brand/Mission Alignment but only 8% selected Showcase Community Support/Social Responsibility as the single most important factor. This represents a huge shift in the priorities of corporate decision-makers in only three years, and is an important factor to consider in your partnership planning.
And of course, keeping corporate partners once they are on board is crucial to long-term success. Some of the factors that lead to the end of a partnership are beyond the nonprofit’s control, but delivering what is promised and providing fresh ideas and strong stewardship can contribute significantly to partnership longevity.
Our 2018 Corporate Decision-Makers Survey showed two of the primary factors for ending a relationship included:
- Nonprofit Didn’t Deliver On What Was Promised
- Insufficient Support/Stewardship From Partners
Building an understanding of corporate partners’ needs is paramount. Set up a planning meeting with your new corporate partners to learn which assets they have to promote your partnership with their customers, employees and vendors. Empower and train your team to address the unique needs of each corporate partner and to deliver on what was promised. Negotiation challenges and a lack of nonprofit efficiencies and resources are also pain points. Make sure your hard work reaches its full potential by dedicating time and resources to cultivate, steward and recognize your partnerships.
Nonprofits are receiving failing grades from corporate decision-makers on bringing new ideas and presenting unique opportunities to their corporate partners. Get creative with new technology, provide digital tools and storytelling that emotionally connects your partners and their target audience to your cause and helps drive reputation and sales.
Collaborate with your corporate partner to secure feedback from a variety of departments so you can better understand how your partnership can continue to evolve and grow over time. Use this feedback to craft plans or renewals for the following year. It’s important to ask questions that will advance the partnership and learn what worked well and what needs to be changed. It’s never too soon to begin this process. For Momentum’s Cause Partnership Sales Cycle Research shows that it takes much less time to renew existing partners versus securing new partners from a cold prospect list.
I can help you construct an achievable 2019 corporate partnership plan so that your long hours of prospecting, strategy, outreach, calls and negotiation ultimately pays off. Contact me to schedule a year-end planning session.
Download the Corporate Partnership Decision-Maker Research Infographic for key statistics and information. Download the survey High Expectations: Corporate Decision-Makers Research.