7 Key Steps to Developing Successful Nonprofit-Corporate Partnerships

1. Commitment. Commit to making corporate partnerships a priority in 2019. About 90% of all charities in the U.S. do not have a formal strategy for developing corporate partnerships. Corporate partnerships can be a very efficient way to grow fundraising and your donor pool. Many nonprofits that we have spoken with think corporate partnership programs only work for charities that have a lot of resources. This perception is incorrect. Nonprofits with limited resources can develop the services for a corporate outreach strategy that match the limited resources available to the nonprofit. If done correctly, this program can develop a significant share of the overall fundraising, even with limited resources available to the charity. The key here is to commit to developing the best corporate outreach strategy for your specific nonprofit.

2. Strategy. Develop a formal strategy to integrate corporations into your nonprofit and events. Begin by creating what services you will be able to offer corporations through a partnership. Develop the benefits you will be able to provide corporations for partnering with your nonprofit. Develop programs and events that will help increase employee engagement. Endurance events are an excellent way to partner with corporations, increase employee engagement and help the corporations work on their employee’s health and wellness. Volunteer opportunities are another way to engage with employees and employee families. Social Endurance also recommends in-office visits to corporations to share the nonprofit’s story, mission and how employees and employee families can get involved.

3. Promote Online. Social Endurance recommends developing the online assets that highlight your nonprofit’s corporate partnership program and the benefits to the corporations. We recommend developing a dedicated page on your website that highlights this program, the benefits to corporations, and a quick and easy way for corporations to contact you. Social Endurance also recommends frequently highlighting the corporate partnership program through social media. Promote each new corporate partnership on your website and through social media. As you promote these new partnerships encourage other corporations to get involved.

4. Sponsorship Opportunities. Along with fundraising through your events, we recommend developing sponsorship opportunities for your corporate partners. Create multiple opportunities for corporations to engage with your nonprofit through sponsorship opportunities. Create a variety of sponsorship levels and events for corporations to engage with your nonprofit. Provide sponsorship opportunities online and through a brochure that can be emailed. Create some flexibility with this to customize for each corporate partner. If a corporate partner is very engaged with your endurance program, promote the current sponsorship opportunities available for that event. The key here is to have information readily available and to promote it often.

5. Ambassadors. Develop a corporate ‘ambassador’ program. ‘Ambassadors’ are an excellent way to promote your corporate partnership program in the community especially if your nonprofit has limited resources. Create an outline of the role and the responsibilities of these ambassadors. Set clear expectations. Leverage existing donors that are engaged with your nonprofit and that are willing to reach out to their professional circle of influence to promote the benefits of partnering with your nonprofit. Develop the resources you will use to help support and train your ambassadors. Take the time to educate your ambassadors on your nonprofit’s mission, values, how donations are used and the benefits to corporations. Provide your ambassadors with brochures, event dates and how to leverage your website to provide potential corporate partners with the necessary information they need to become your new corporate partners. We also recommend ambassadors to assist the nonprofit employees with in-office visits to potential corporate partners.

6. Cause Marketing. One of the biggest benefits to corporations in this partnership will be the public good they will receive through this partnership. Charities should highlight the social media and email outreach value of their nonprofit. This could be of high value to corporations who are trying to build awareness in a new region or maybe trying to improve their name through public goodwill efforts. Set clear expectations with this. Nonprofits should also expect the same in return from the corporations. Social Endurance recommends nonprofits work with the corporation’s marketing team to provide them with the logos, links, messaging, and copy necessary to promote the partnership and the charity. Nonprofits should assist the corporate partners and clearly outline how the nonprofit name, messaging, and logos will be used. The nonprofit should also have a clear understanding of the demographics of the corporations marketing and social media audience. This is a great way to build awareness for both partners if done correctly.

7. Gratitude. Thank your corporate partners often and especially at the end of the year. Recognize your corporate partners publicly. Share through social media and other marketing channels your excellent corporate partners and how they helped your nonprofit. Highlight how the corporate partners engaged with your nonprofit and how the employees enjoyed this partnership. This is also a great opportunity to remind your corporate partners of the great partnership and ask them to continue their partnership in the new year.

We understand that there’s more to developing engaging partnerships with corporations, but we know from experience that these 7 key steps will help create a sustainable program for your nonprofit. We also understand that many nonprofits have limited time and resources. That’s why we created these 7 easy steps to follow. Social Endurance helps nonprofits of all sizes develop sustainable corporate partnership programs.

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