The Changing Face of Corporate Partnerships
Corporate philanthropy no longer is about a corporation giving a check to a nonprofit and the nonprofit ensuring it that the donation is tax deductible.
“It’s really driven by bottom-line results for the corporation,” says Robert Nolan, senior corporate and foundation relations officer at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center Foundation.
Corporations are interested not only in partnering with organizations; they’re interested in getting involved in ways that benefit their communities; improve how they’re perceived by the public; help them achieve their marketing and promotional objectives; and ultimately make a positive return on the bottom line.
Nolan says that it’s important that an organization gather as much information about a corporation and its intentions as possible before partnering with it. He stresses that the most important thing nonprofits can do in an effort to secure corporate partnerships is spend time learning about the businesses they want to be supported by.
“There need to be ongoing conversations and commitments at all levels of the organization when you’re trying to develop a partnership, so you really need to have that top-down and bottom-up connection between the two organizations in order for it to be a truly effective collaboration,” he says.
Connecticut Children’s Medical Center Foundation has structured its program so that through initial conversations with corporations it gets as much information as possible about what their business is, who their customers are, and what they’re trying to accomplish from a marketing, promotional and sales perspective. This better enables Nolan’s staff to match the corporation with either supporting programs or events that will help it find exposure among the customers it’s looking to reach.
“The better we can do that, the more effective we are in generating support for our hospital, and the corporations are happier because now they’re meeting bottom-line objectives, and they’re much more likely to want to build a relationship with us where they’ll come back year after year after year to support us because we’re helping to support them,” Nolan says.