Businesses frequently partner with nonprofits to raise money and awareness for important causes. Some of these relationships last years and generate thousands of dollars, while others seemingly fail after only a short time. Follow these best practices to ensure that your next for profit/nonprofit partnership is a success for everyone!
Types of Partnerships for Businesses and Nonprofits
There are a variety of common models of partnerships for businesses and nonprofits:
- The business makes a one-time or recurring financial or material contribution to the nonprofit (think: donating money or gently used products)
- The business pays employees their regular salary to do volunteer work for the nonprofit
- The business donates a percentage of every sale to the nonprofit
Benefits of Business-Nonprofit Partnerships
Partnerships between businesses and nonprofits should benefit everyone!
Benefits for the Business
Businesses have so much to gain from working with nonprofits. Working with nonprofits can be highly fulfilling to founders and employees, and working with a nonprofit that resonates with the values of customers can improve consumer perception and trust. It is also possible to directly drive revenue with programs such as donating a percentage of every sale for a particular promotional product.
Benefits for the Nonprofit
Partnering with companies helps nonprofits reach financial and publicity goals. Depending on the type of partnership, the nonprofit may receive financial or material donations, or extra volunteer hours. Beyond this, the business becomes a promotional channel for the nonprofit and provides free public relations exposure and marketing.
Best Practices for For-Profit Business/Nonprofit Relationships
When a business and a nonprofit create a partnership, both parties are responsible for working towards the success of the program.
Best Practices for Nonprofits
Nonprofits usually operate on limited financial and human resources, but there are easy ways that they can create a positive and successful experience working with businesses.
- Create an open line of communication – Nonprofits struggle with human capital, but providing an open line of communication to the business is vital to business relationships. In turn, this can lead to more contracts signed and long-term relationships. Provide access to someone specific within the organization rather than a general customer service line or customer care email address.
- Provide a style and branding guide – Most companies will want to publicize the partnership. Upon signing paperwork to formalize the partnership, provide high resolution logo files as well as basic branding guidelines. This will make it easier for the company to create graphics and messaging to promote the program.
- Share partner media on social media and website – It is common for businesses to publish a press release to announce the partnership. If possible, the nonprofit should create a section of their website to publish partner press releases. Businesses might also market the partnership on social media or by creating videos. Re-sharing high quality media with appropriate branding will help these partnership programs grow, and is a sign of goodwill towards the business.
Best Practices for Businesses
Businesses are also responsible for the success of nonprofit partnerships.
- Create an open line of communication – Communication is never one-way, so businesses must be highly communicative to have a successful partnership. Interestingly, the most successful businesses keep their communication simple. Make sure that a single person is accountable for the partnership, and have this person keep the nonprofit representative up to date with struggles and successes of the program.
- Strictly follow requested branding guidelines – If a nonprofit offers branding guidelines and logo files, follow their guidance! Do not modify their logos or graphic files without permission, and use the messaging that they provide.
- Be swift in delivering what was promised – If a business offers to donate 10% of sales to a nonprofit, it is a best practice to generate reports and deliver the donation as soon as possible after the promotion ends.
Partnerships between businesses and nonprofits should benefit everyone – most importantly, the community members that the nonprofit serves! Unfortunately, the ultimate mission can’t be served without a positive, open relationship between both parties. It is only when both parties take responsibility and carry their weight that a nonprofit promotion can be truly successful.
Annie Singer began her career in marketing as a link builder but quickly familiarized herself with a broader inbound marketing skillset. While she is largely self-taught, she has a rich background including agency, enterprise, and freelance experience, and has formal education in psychology and marketing research. Annie now works in digital growth and entrepreneurship, specializing in science-based practices and business ethics. Visit her website, or connect on LinkedIn.