In its whitepaper, “Cause Marketing: Beyond Sponsorship and Coupons,” social-enterprise consulting firm Community Wealth Ventures lists seven steps nonprofits need to take to build strategic alliances with their for-profit partners. Following is a synopsis of CWV’s suggestions:
1. Set goals.
Know what your goals are. Are you only trying to raise money? Or are you also attempting to raise awareness of your cause; build brand recognition for your nonprofit; develop a campaign that engages people at a grass roots level?
2. Understand your assets and develop a value proposition.
Assets can be broken down into three subcategories: things you have (physical assets; location/space; distribution/sales network; brand reputation; patent; access to desired resource; and membership); things you do (continuously innovate; manage information; produce low-cost goods; sustain privileged assets); and things you know (understanding of specific issues; process expertise; market expertise; people/key decision makers).
3. Identify industry and corporate targets.
In doing this, here are three things to think about: the relevance of the company’s business to your organization’s mission; opportunity for you to help the company meet specific business objectives; and your existing relationships.
4. Make initial contact with corporate targets.
During the initial call, understand the following three things: the company’s business objectives and marketing strategies/tactics; its experience with other nonprofit partners; and its level of interest in the value your organization has to offer. After all, your goal is to get a meeting with the company in order to make a pitch!
5. Develop and make your pitch.
To make a successful pitch, you need to establish your organization’s credibility; demonstrate how your assets can help the company meet business objectives; help the company understand that you are not asking for a charitable contribution; better understand the company’s business objectives by asking lots of questions; and go in with some ideas of your own, but definitely allow the company to explore what it can bring to the table.