3 Keys of a Strong Nonprofit-Corporate Partnership
[Editor's note: This is part 1 of a four-part series on the session "Building Strategic Corporate Partnerships" held at Fund Raising Day in New York June 8.]
Corporate partnerships can be a much-welcomed boost to any fundraising team. Every development department can think of myriad ways that corporate dollars and support can be put to good use.
However, as is the case with most fundraising issues, securing corporate partnerships is easier said than done, particularly in today's environment where organizations expect more than just good will in return. So how do you build strategic corporate partnerships? Where do you start?
There are three keys to getting started, said Venessa Mendenhall, vice president of strategic partnerships of New York Needs You (NYNY), and Melissa Kinckle, consulting delivery senior manager and director of corporate social responsibility at Bluewolf. In their session, "Building Strategic Corporate Partnerships," at Fund Raising Day in New York with co-presenters Lina Klebanov, deputy director of corporate social responsibility at Marsh & McLennan Cos., and Erica Hamilton, chief program officer of iMentor, Mendenhall and Kinckle laid out the three core concepts of a strong nonprofit-corporate partnership.
A strong, strategic partnership is a reciprocal relationship. The days of a company forking over money to a nonprofit with no strings attached are long gone. Corporations are looking to partner with organizations that align with their values. That makes it vital to find out what the corporation is interested in when seeking out a corporate partnership, Mendenhall said.
"Ask questions about what the corporation is interested in," she said. "In that first meeting, spend about 80 percent of the time listening to what the corporation is looking for. Listen to the language and terminology they use. Then talk about yourself in their language. This establishes a two-way street, makes it feel more like a client-to-client relationship."