Infographics, Stats and Facts: Why Partnerships Are Essential for Nonprofits
Many organizations, nonprofit and for-profit alike, are strengthened when they team with others. The legal services firm Ralli Partnership Law researched eight of the most famous business partnerships and came up with the great infographic below (keep reading after for the rest of this post):
It is important to partner, but why should a nonprofit partner with another nonprofit? Exponent Philanthropy and Fidelity Charitable, in a whitepaper titled “What Makes an Effective Nonprofit," noted that the nonprofit sector now encompasses 1.5 million organizations, ranging from universities to hospitals to environmental groups. The study found that donors consider two questions when they decide where to make gifts: (1) their own philanthropic goals and (2) the nonprofit’s effectiveness.
According to the study, there are five qualities common to effective nonprofits:
- Clear mission and purpose
- Ability to perform key functions
- Strong practices, procedures and policies
- Good people
- Ability to mobilize others (which includes a willingness to partner with other nonprofits/businesses)
It is important to note that the article points out many effective nonprofits (or those having the potential to be effective) are under-financed and stretched to their limits. Many worthy nonprofits suffer cash-flow problems; poorly developed finance, management and fundraising systems; and inadequate training of board and staff in essential skills. So, there could be strength in numbers.
Does your nonprofit organization partner with other nonprofits? Marion Conway listed in an article the six benefits to partnering with other nonprofits:
- Using and leveraging your own resources and strengths
- Learning from other organizations' strengths
- Operating more efficient programs
- Operating more diverse programs
- Developing new networks and new audiences
- And of course—funders love partnering!
The Forbes Nonprofit Council noted that nonprofits make common branding mistakes that harm their fundraising efforts. These include not tailoring messages to their audience sand not sharing the stories of the people or problems they serve. Although I work for The Salvation Army in Indianapolis, I also try to attend functions of other nonprofit organizations when invited, in order to determine if partnerships can be relevant between organizations. In many cases, several organizations have the same story to tell—so why not work together to enrich the story?
Our organization tries to develop partnerships with other organizations when feasible, because at times we have the same mission as others and can achieve more success by combining resources. At a recent event, a board chair from another organization told a story of how our two organizations are now trying to work together. The chair described this in a story. The audience seemed to appreciate and understand the fact that the community problem is global and can only be ultimately achieved through enhanced partnerships with a number of organizations with a similar focus.
In addition to nonprofits seeking nonprofit partnerships, Aloma Arter, of Third Sector Today, pointed out in her article "10 Benefits Only Nonprofits Can Offer For-Profits in a Partnership" that successful partnerships are, first and foremost, business relationships. Arter listed the benefits for the for-profit partner:
1. Increase sales of products or services
2. Increase employee engagement, morale and retention
3. Increase customer and brand loyalty
4. Draw media attention and coverage for free
5. Provide a motivating purpose for their company and employees
6. Increase shareholder return
7. Increase employee skill development, teambuilding, leadership
8. Attract new business partners and relationships
9. Generate recognition for the good they create in society
10. Receive a tax donation for contributions.
Arter also listed the benefits nonprofits receive from for-profit partners:
1. Increase funding
2. Expand donor base
3. Connect to new business partners
4. Attract in-kind donations
5. Provide professional development for employees
6. Attract new volunteers, board, pro bono services
7. Increase brand recognition
8. Increase media coverage
9. Connect leaders with community thought leaders
10. Develop earned income opportunities
We all work in a world of relationships and connections. As poet John Donne wrote, “No man is an island"—human beings do not thrive when isolated from others. I believe the same can be said for nonprofits, and future partnerships are important to organizational growth and survival.
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner, author, lecturer and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last 11 years. He has been a long-standing member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals where he was previously named the AFP Indiana Chapter Fundraising Executive of the Year and has held the CFRE designation for many years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in education administration, master's degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also completed post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
He is currently executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. Contact Duke at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-224-1029.