The new year is upon us, so why not make a resolution to focus on making lasting relationships with businesses that can benefit your nonprofit? Cause marketing is a mutually beneficial marketing strategy for nonprofit organizations and for-profit businesses. But there are key questions that nonprofits must ask themselves to ensure a ROI for both parties. What kind of partnership is your organization seeking? Strictly funds? Co-marketing? Enhanced public visibility? Hard goods?
After speaking with professionals from both established nonprofit organizations and for-profit businesses, we developed a checklist with steps to assist nonprofits as they seek a lasting business partner.
1. Identify Your Goals - Identifying your needs is essential to identifying prospective businesses to partners with.
Catherine Chapman, CFRE at Fullanthropy, suggests seeking businesses with similar philosophies. “Look for businesses that have commonalities with the organization. They might have the same values or culture, or they might have a similar target demographic with clients or donors,” she says.
Bruce Burtch, the author of “Glowing Your Business,” agrees, “Search for organizations aligned with the mission and philosophy of the nonprofit.” As an example, he suggests, “If you are trying to build a homeless shelter, look for construction companies, architects, etc.”
2. Develop a List of Prospective Partners – After prospects are identified, developing an outreach strategy is important. Begin by finding connections within your own organization–if possible. An existing connection can open a promising door within a for-profit company. Otherwise, it’s important to reach out to the appropriate person within the organization.
3. Begin Conversations With Prospects - Once you do, it’s important to be prepared for the introduction. Understand the company–its goals, missions, and image. Identify how partnering with your organization will be mutually beneficial. What can partnering with you offer them? Spelling out the prospective return on investment at this stage is crucial to garnering an interest in a cause marketing relationship.
4. Nurture the Relationship - Once a for-profit company has agreed to enter a cause marketing campaign, it’s important to nurture the relationship to ensure the for-profit business’s needs are being met. Keep in mind, this will become both a personal and business engagement. It’s essential to communicate openly and regularly, demonstrating the return on investment and shared value.
Have you had cause marketing successes? What suggestions would you make to nonprofits seeking one of their own?
Ashley Halligan is an analyst at Software Advice where she regularly reports on the nonprofit sector’s news and trends.