Contributions are the lifeblood of a nonprofit or charitable organization. And when it comes to your mission and your ability to drive serious change, every dollar counts. Corporate giving makes up a large portion of yearly charitable contributions across the sector. According to statistics from the National Philanthropic Trust (NPT), corporate giving totaled $16.88 billion in 2020, making individuals in the workforce too large a segment to ignore. One of the ways to reach this audience is through corporate partnerships—which can go a long way and yield great financial rewards.
In this article, we’ll look at some of the benefits of corporate sponsorships, share information on the types of partnership models, and provide tips to help you find the right corporate partner for your nonprofit.
Benefits of having a corporate sponsor
- Helps offset the cost of a fundraising event: With a corporate sponsor, your charity can offset the cost of an event. For instance, most corporate partner take on the the cost of the venue, marketing, or ads for your fundraiser.
- Recruit volunteers easily: Many corporations have some form of an employee volunteer program in place. A corporate partnership can help you get new volunteers and help you grow your volunteer programs.
- Increased visibility and brand recognition: Gaining increased visibility is another great benefit of being associating with a corporate partner as companies rigorously network and work hard to build and keep their customers’ trust. If you choose the right corporate partners, that trust will be transferred to your charity as well – especially if you’re a new or smaller player.
Types of corporate partnership models
As you lean into corporate partnerships, you will notice that there are a few different kinds of corporate partnership models:
- Corporate sponsorship for an event: As the name suggest, this usually involves a corporation or business partner sponsoring an event. In return, the charity will usually display the company’s logo on their marketing materials and promote their corporate partner via other marketing collateral. This offsets the cost of organizing the fundraiser and helps build a positive association for the business partner.
- Workplace giving programs: In this model, corporate partners set up a giving program to encourage their employees to either donate directly to the charity or deduct smaller amounts directly from their paycheques for donations. Many corporates also offer donation/gift matching programs through which corporates match the donation amounts of their employees, thus encouraging employees to donate more.
- Employee volunteering programs: Very often, corporate partners set up programs that encourage their employees to volunteer with their partner nonprofit. This could mean employees helping with an upcoming event or engaging in skills-based volunteerism such as helping the charity market an event, set up their pages or help with IT, etc.
- Media and marketing partnerships: In this partnership model, the corporate partners bear the cost of promoting the event. This could be through radio promotions, TV ads, printed ads, or social media ad spending. In another variation of this model, the nonprofit and its corporate partner agree upon a mutually beneficial marketing strategy. For the charity, this can simply convert into more donors, supporters, and a bigger influx of funds while for their corporate counterparts this could mean improved customer goodwill, increased loyalty, and eventually more sales.
6 tips to help your nonprofit find an ideal corporate partner
1. Align your CSR goals
Almost all great and established businesses have a corporate social responsibility (CSR) campaign going for them. When submitting proposals and building relationships with corporate partners, it is a good idea to align your CSR with their existing corporate goals and showcase how much of their CSR vision they can achieve as they decide to work with you.
2. Highlight win-win opportunities
When approaching a potential corporate partner, it is easy to make the mistake of being too focused on the needs of your charity and what you will get out of the plan. But a smarter and more effective strategy is to highlight win-win opportunities that will result from a partnership. Communicate the value and benefit of the partnership from your corporate partner’s perspective first. For example, familiarize yourself with their industry and get a realistic understanding of their numbers to demonstrate how your nonprofit can also help bolster their goodwill etc.
3. Build connections, network, and follow-up
A lot of times, you will be able to find great corporate partners that perfectly align with your goals and values by simply building connections, networking, and following-up. Your charity’s board members, staff, as well as friendly neighbors can help you find relevant businesses in your community and make much-needed introductions. Feel free to ask around for referrals if needed. Key executives at your charity or nonprofit can play an invaluable role here.
4. Do your research as you choose your corporate partners
Accurate and in-depth research is a great starting point when you decide to collaborate with corporate partners. Start by considering companies with a strong local presence within the community you’re serving. Once you identify some potential corporate partners, ensure your values are fully aligned with theirs because eventually, it is important to portray the right image along with benefiting financially—only partner with companies that you will be proud to form an alliance with.
5. Use social media to engage with potential partners
Social media remains an important driver of traffic, connections, and donations for nonprofits and charities which also makes it a great channel to find and interact with potential corporate partners. Additionally, a company’s social media presence can say a lot about its core values and how the business is run—which will give you clear insights about who to work with when finalizing your corporate partners.
6. Showcase the impact of the partnership
While pitching to a corporate partner, start by having detailed discussions about what ‘impact’ means to them and the kind of measurements that will define a successful outcome. Broadly speaking, each campaign and program is unique and there is no “one-size-fits-all” type of formula for success.
Sometimes, it is easy to measure success as soon as a program is complete. At other times, it may take a few months or even years to showcase impact depending on the nature of the project. Impact also depends on the goals of your campaign and the depth of your corporate partner’s involvement.
When corporates and nonprofits work together, it can lead to some very powerful and life-altering results. In general, consumers like to engage with brands that are associated with a good cause. Moreover, nonprofits also benefit massively from better funding, new skills, growth of their volunteer programs, and other support from a corporate partner. Above all, nonprofit and corporate partnerships can create happier, more involved communities.