Social Impact Insights
Our blog provides insights for social impact professionals in business and nonprofits. We offer advice on making the greatest impact in your organization by giving clear real-world advice on important topics of today.
Businesses, Bulk Up Your Relationships with Your Nonprofit Partners and Win Big
Find Your Partner
There are a couple ways you can go about finding a good philanthropy to partner with. While your Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) team is great for helping with the search process, make sure you are contributing your own thoughts and opinions as well. At the end of the day, the nonprofit you choose to partner with will need to align with your own missions and vision. If your CSR team is able to present you with a list of potential philanthropy partnerships, that’s great! But make sure to do the work on your own end to make the final call. Base your decision off of research, respected opinions, and reviews. You can even take a page out of the handbook of larger foundations when it comes to finding a good partner. Take a look at companies like Microsoft, The Global Fund, or LUSH for ideas and inspiration for your own charitable partnerships.
Build Genuine Relationships
There are plenty of steps a corporate foundation can take to create meaningful relationships with a philanthropy. Start by establishing consistent and continuous interactions with your corporate philanthropy. Prioritize the nonprofit as you would your own company. This means being respectful, open to ideas and feedback, and responsive. Everyone has a busy schedule. It makes a difference to know they will receive follow-up whether it is an answer to their questions or a quick response letting them know you have received their message and will get back to them as soon as you are able.
There are plenty of other ways to show your nonprofit that you are there to support them and dedicated to helping the organization. While you are the one that is making contributions, be sure to show them appreciation for the work they are doing in reaching out to the community and working on projects that align with your vision. Check in often enough to show them you are interested in the work they are doing without becoming overbearing or hovering. This could mean monthly phone calls to ask about what the nonprofit has been working on or even occasional visits. On top of your enthusiasm, make sure to bring your appreciation with you. Introduce yourself to those working in the office and remember them by name. Little things you do can make the nonprofit you are working with feel seen, supported, and appreciated rather than feeling like another name on the list of people you donate to.
Considerations to Keep in Mind
Remember that nonprofits may run in a completely different way than your corporate business does. There will not always be enough resources or staffing available for all of the projects you’re excited about. Keep an open mind when working with nonprofit organizations. More often than not, those working at the nonprofit organization are volunteering time out of their day. For example, staff members may be late to meetings or have tight schedules to work around. Do not take this to heart. Many of these individuals may hold jobs in addition to their involvement in the nonprofit and their schedules could vary daily.
Your personal time commitments to the nonprofit organizations can also help alleviate the commitment imbalances, especially if you plan on investing your time and resources for the long-term. Showing nonprofit organizations that you’re dedicated in supporting them in the long run not only shows your passion and commitment but also helps form trusting relationships between corporate foundations and the philanthropy.
When to Rethink Your Relationship
Once you have an understanding of the organization you’ve chosen, you may find that the partnership is not as sustainable as you originally hoped. There can be many reasons behind this. Maybe you are not receiving an equal level of respect, are running into creative differences or are dealing with issues concerning your own business. Your first action should be to try to mend the situation before retracting your support. Some things can easily be fixed through re-strategizing, brainstorming, or through a candid conversation.
If you find that you do need to withdraw your corporate support, be transparent with your philanthropy. If possible, create plans to ease the transition for them. This might mean gradually reducing your contributions over a period of time rather than pulling out immediately or setting up other methods of support. Since you have personal experience working with the nonprofit, you will have insight on what they might need to succeed. For example, if they have been struggling with fundraising, you could offer to fund a consultant for their organization. Or, if they are having a hard time engaging their audiences, you could look into freelance content creators to help boost their social media presence. Making the decision to end a partnership can be difficult and is often unexpected. Take an active role in providing as smooth of a transition as you can for the nonprofit.
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