4 Steps Nonprofits Can Take to Establish Lasting Partnerships with For-Profit Businesses

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Cause marketing has been a long-recognized a an effective–and mutually beneficial–marketing strategy for nonprofit organizations and for-profit businesses. Large or well-known nonprofit organizations may have an easier time acquiring for-profit interest, but how can smaller organizations–or new organizations–begin a quest for an enduring partner?

I spoke with professionals from both established nonprofit organizations and for-profit businesses to acquire a checklist, of sorts, to assist nonprofits in the quest for a lasting business partner.

First of all, what kind of partnership is your organization seeking? Strictly funds? Co-marketing? Enhanced public visibility? Hard goods? Bruce Burtch, author of “Glowing Your Business,” asks, “Is the organization building a new facility, trying to add a new service, hosting an exhibition or an event, or simply trying to raise money for their organization?”

1. Identify Your Goals
Identifying your needs is essential to identifying prospective businesses to partners with.

Catherine Chapman, CFRE at Fullanthropy, suggests seeking businesses with similar philosophies. “Look for businesses that have commonalities with the organization. They might have the same values or culture, or they might have a similar target demographic with clients or donors,” she says. 

Burtch agrees, “Search for organizations aligned with the mission and philosophy of the nonprofit.” As an example, he suggests, “If you are trying to build a homeless shelter, look for construction companies, architects, etc.”

2. Develop a List of Prospective Partners
After prospects are identified, developing an outreach strategy is important. Begin by finding connections within your own organization–if possible. An existing connection can open a promising door within a for-profit company. Otherwise, it’s important to reach out to the appropriate person within the organization.

3. Begin Conversations With Prospects
Once you do, it’s important to be prepared for the introduction. Understand the company–its goals, missions, and image. Identify how partnering with your organization will be mutually beneficial. What can partnering with you offer them? Spelling out the prospective return on investment at this stage is crucial to garnering an interest in a cause marketing relationship.

4. Nurture the Relationship
Once a for-profit company has agreed to enter a cause marketing campaign, it’s important to nurture the relationship to ensure the for-profit business’s needs are being met. Keep in mind, this will become both a personal and business engagement. It’s essential to communicate openly and regularly, demonstrating the return on investment and shared value.

Have you had cause marketing successes? What suggestions would you make to nonprofits seeking one of their own? Feel free to leave your comments below. Read more about this subject on the Software Advice blog.