Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Building Partnerships with Business

When not-for-profits and business work together, it can be a win/win!

Many businesses find that philanthropic activities can be a great marketing strategy.  It raises positive perceptions, it provides low-cost community exposure, and it creates a relationship between the business and the supporters of a charity.  An office supply store attracts business and good will by offering special discounts to school teachers.  A restaurant fills tables on slow nights by donating a percent of all sales to a chosen charity.  A financial institution sponsors regular giving days on which employees who donate to a named charity are allowed to wear jeans to work. 

So, how can your charity benefit from such a partnership?  Here are a few ideas to consider.

  1. Be proactive.
Don’t wait for a business to come to you.  Take a partnership idea to a business.

  1.  Target businesses that have something in common with your supporters.
Consider what’s in it for the business – more business, exposure to a targeted market, increased customer loyalty.

  1. Offer a plan for joint publicity. 
Be prepared to detail how the relationship will be promoted – press releases, mailings to donors, etc.  Ask the business include it in regular advertising and via store posters.

  1. Rally your supporters to do the requisite shopping/dining/etc.
Here’s a way for the people who care about you to help you without spending extra money.  They merely acquire an experience, item, etc. they might have had anyway.

One caveat – pick a reputable partner.  Don’t allow your good name to be used – or possibly abused – by someone strictly for their own gain.  The goal here is win/win.

Partnerships between not-for-profits and business are very common.  If your organization has not explored this relatively painless way to increase funds and exposure, then now’s the time to see if you can add it to your list of fund raising activities.

Kathryn Lima has over 30 years of experience in marketing, public relations, and fund raising.  E-mail your fund raising questions to her at

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