10 Tips for an Effective Business/Nonprofit Partnership

Ashley Merlin
Baldwin Haspel Burke & Mayer Law Offices was one of the main sponsors for this year’s Give Nola Day May 6, 2014.

1. Match the businesses and nonprofit.

 Look at both entities’ missions and the interests of employees. Determine what value you have for each other. Are you a good fit?

2. Identify the goal of the partnership.

 Is it a long-term relationship such as a capital campaign, or is it an annual appeal or a fundraising event?

 Are volunteers wanted or needed?

3. Make sure the nonprofit/business you associate with is credible.

 Check credentials/501(c)3 status; review the list of board members and donors; examine services provided; look at its Website and social media platforms; check references.

4. Establish a budget.

 While cash donations are always appreciated, consider ways other than money that can be part of the partnership mix. Maybe regular use of a company conference room or using its communications department can support the nonprofit.

 Identify the source of funding — whether it be from philanthropy or marketing — and develop the partnership accordingly.

5. Designate a philanthropy “czar” (corporate social responsibility department for large companies) to manage the partnership.

 A company’s philanthropy can be time-consuming. Having someone assigned to be the liaison is helpful.

6. Have a written agreement or contract.

 What does each party give and get in return?

 Think beyond logo and a table of 10 at galas or fundraisers. Ask to introduce an event speaker or to have access to a nonprofits membership or employees.

7. Leverage the partnership to maximize results.

 Have your partnership work for you (doing good is good for business) by “owning” an aspect of an event or campaign.

 Make the company’s participation memorable rather than just being a part of “logo soup” on marketing materials. Host a Bloody Mary party before golfers tee off at the golf tournament or volunteer to be the emcee or auctioneer.

Participate at the appropriate level; if you are not going to use your tickets, for example, offer them to clients, customers, prospects or even other nonprofits.

8. Evaluate the partnership at least annually.

 What worked, what did not, and what could be done better?

 Did both sides fulfill the terms of the agreement?

9. Manage the relationship.

 Nonprofits you can never say thank you too many times; keep in touch with your sponsors throughout the year.

10. Hire a firm that specializes in partnerships to make the most of your community investment.

 Some companies have a partnership specialty and can serve as “matchmakers” while helping a company or nonprofit devise donor strategies.

 For lasting gifts, work with an estate planner or lawyer.



Categories: The Magazine