Five Minutes With: Charles Moore, Executive Director, CECP
For many nonprofit development officers, the notion that a corporation can have goals symbiotically related to their own organizations’ runs counter to intuition. Indeed, wouldn’t it seem downright obvious that the desires and goals, and even the basic moral orientations, of nonprofit and for-profit companies are in stark opposition?
Not so at all, argues Charles Moore, executive director of The Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy, an organization missioned to educate the business community about ways to be better philanthropists — the two can, should be and, in many cases, already are intimately intertwined.
In a recent e-mail interview with FundRaising Success, Moore offered nonprofits advice on how to go about creating and nurturing partnerships with corporations — relationships that work precisely because they benefit both parties.
“Giving back, when conceived and executed thoughtfully, creates a win-win scenario for business and the public,” Moore says. “From eradicating disease and improving childhood literacy rates to boosting employee job skills, opening new markets and heightening brand recognition — business and society both stand to benefit greatly if companies can demonstrate programmatic effectiveness, fiscal accountability and good stewardship in their philanthropic contributions.”
Moore argues that corporations have a long history of philanthropic giving, but what has changed recently is the extent to which corporations are doing more for their nonprofit partners by providing them with resources that are not simply financial, such as volunteer labor and management expertise.
“By selecting nonprofit partnerships that tap into resources such as human capital and professional expertise, companies can do even more for their communities,” he says.
Nonprofit organizations never should lose sight of the fact that their for-profit counterparts benefit in many ways from partnering with them, Moore says, adding that, in fact, for-profit businesses often are actively engaged in the search for organizations whose missions are in alignment with their own business strengths and resources. This alignment is what Moore calls a “natural fit.”
“As businesses also work to be more strategic in their giving, they are often looking to nonprofits to offer opportunities for employee engagement and volunteerism, as well as long-term, sustainable development rather than one-off projects.”
And Moore argues that one of the smartest ways for nonprofits to ensure a long-term commitment of resources — financial and otherwise — from corporations is to be forthcoming when it comes to establishing expectations and providing results.
“Best-in-class nonprofits … take advantage of involving strong measurement practices to share metrics with their corporate partners on the success of their collaborative efforts,” he says.
Moore adds that corporations often seek to invest in a nonprofit’s mission because they can greatly improve relations with the communities in which they are situated, opening channels of communication that had been closed, tapping into markets that previously had gone untapped.
“Corporations benefit from their nonprofit partnerships through strengthened community relations and the building of good will; providing opportunities for employee involvement, which often lends to improved recruiting and retention efforts; and business strategy opportunities such as building new markets for the business or creating new products via philanthropic endeavors.”
And Moore explains that a genuine symbiosis between nonprofits and for-profits can exist no matter what the organization’s size. That, in fact, smaller nonprofits might have an edge up on their larger counterparts when it comes to being able to hone in on the concerns of a particular community.
“While large nonprofits may typically attract more corporate resources, smaller nonprofits are often more closely tied to their communities and may have a better grasp of local needs and demands,” he says. “Therefore, small nonprofits have the potential to more intimately engage in philanthropic projects that address specific local community concerns.”
Because of the intense competition that more than 1 million nonprofits in the U.S. alone face for corporate funding, Moore says organizations need to conduct a significant amount of research in order to arrive at an understanding of the “natural fit.”
“It is judicious for the nonprofits to conduct comprehensive research in determining the most appropriate corporate partners and offer creative collaborative solutions to social concerns that are of specific interest for targeted corporations,” he says.
Tips to Take Away
Finally, Moore offers these five practical tips to nonprofits considering a corporate partnership:
* Select your key corporate partners wisely — after a full analysis of your needs and the company’s resources and giving priorities.
* Start small with single one-off projects, looking to build to more long-term, comprehensive partnerships over time.
* Set clear expectations for what defines “success” with your corporate partners and determine key metrics for measuring the effectiveness of your corporate-sponsored programs.
* Offer innovative opportunities to corporations that engage employees through volunteerism and pro bono efforts, and be committed to effective communications in and outside the collaboration.
* Consider the business benefits of your partnership offerings and highlight these opportunities in your grant applications.
For more information, visit The Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy’s Web site.