5 Steps (and 3 Pitfalls) for Building Strategic Corporate Partnerships
Once you understand the keys to a strong nonprofit-corporate partnership, you can seek out the proper corporate partners to target.
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, 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, laid out five steps for building strategic corporate partnerships.
1. Analyze your gaps. This goes back to forming a reciprocal relationship. You need to analyze the gaps both you and your corporate partner are looking to fill. Mendenhall provided a checklist to run through to identify your partner's needs and see where you can come in, and vice versa (see image at right).
2. Do your research. Nothing frustrates a potential corporate partner more than an organization going in with no idea of what the company has to offer, what it has done and what it's looking for.
For instance, Mendenhall shared the example of Bank of America, which has a detailed section on its website about its grant programs. She said it's wise to study that information and understand the specific value proposition for each partner, and notice little things like the language, terminology and focus areas your potential corporate partner uses.
3. Draft your value proposition. Here is where you have to answer the question on behalf of your corporate partner: "What's in it for me?" For a truly strategic, reciprocal, flexible and holistic partnership that can sustain the long haul, you must define exactly what the benefits are for your corporate partner.