8 Steps to Corporate Partnership Success
Corporate/nonprofit partnerships give consumers the ability to exert power through purchasing by offering an easy way for them to contribute. Building successful strategic partnerships requires understanding what for-profits and nonprofits want out of such relationships and finding common ground.
This was the focus of the session “The Power of Building Strategic Partnerships Among the Sectors,” presented by Brooks Kenny, president of Promoting Public Causes, at the Bridge Conference in Washington, D.C., two weeks ago.
Kenny said corporate motivations to partner with a nonprofit include building customer loyalty; strengthening brand equity; distinguishing itself from competition; improving employee morale and relationships; and creating new promotional opportunities. They want a nonprofit partner that has a respected cause with a strong history that resonates with and reaches their key audiences, and is located nearby so that there’s the potential for employee involvement.
A nonprofit organization should look for a corporate partner that has a strong image among its key audience; reaches a like audience and has a natural tie-in to the organization’s mission; understands its mission; is committed to a long-term partnership; and has a clear purpose and plan for community-service efforts.
Kenny’s eight-step partnership process, which follows, provided session attendees with actionable strategies to help them build and sustain successful partnerships with for-profit companies.
1. Identify your team. Who will participate in and guide the process?
2. Assess your organization’s strengths and weaknesses. How can you address weaknesses with messaging? How can you reinforce your strengths through your communication materials?
3. Know your limits and play fair. What marketing assets do you bring? What resources (staff or otherwise) do you have to give to the process? What benefits can you promise? How long does it take for decisions to be made?
4. Write your playbook. Identify the following: your target audience, what you want from it and the best ways to reach it; your campaign objectives, whether they are to recruit new volunteers, improve brand recognition, etc.; your message and whether it’s simple, compelling, understandable and motivating; the corporate benefits, given your marketing assets and how you’ll engage their customers; corporate prospects, i.e., those companies with a creative tie-in to your organization; and promotional opportunities.
5. Scout your players. Look for mission compatibility with for-profits who have a recognizable image with your key audience, a history of success and a commitment to long-term partnerships.
6. Create a winning pitch. What do you offer? Who do you reach and how often? What are the key elements of your brand? Know all you can about the company to customize your pitch.
7. Be the MVP. Deliver on all promises. Develop a process for reporting results, identify regular communication opportunities, keep partners updated on activities and measures of success, and look for ways to up-sell the partnership.
8. Review your scorecard. Engage staff, find out how constituents feel about the partnership, set criteria for success and measurable objectives, and pretest communication materials.
Brooks Kenny can be reached via www.publiccauses.com
For information about the Bridge Conference, www.bridgeconf.org