Partnerships – especially successful ones – can make a real difference in your nonprofit’s fundraising results. Strategic partnerships with corporations have been successful over the years; “Ronald McDonald House”, Coca-Cola and the Olympics/Special Olympics and ChildFund with Tom’s Shoes. These alignments demonstrate not just philanthropic commitment but also do ‘good’ things for the brand. A recent study by Cone Communications revealed that 85 percent of consumers view businesses that give to a charity, especially one that they already support, more favorably.
So how does your nonprofit get a partnership going? Well, of course, you can try to get aligned with one of these large corporations, but that can take much work before, during and after. Moreover, you’re competing with lots of other organizations.
An alternative and much more do-able option is to form a partnership with a local business. Every community has retailers, restaurants, service providers and other local businesses that would benefit from a nonprofit partnership. There is very little if any up-front investment on the part of the business. And when the donor does utilize the reward, he/she can be a potential new client. Existing clients as per the Cone Communications study are very likely to become even more loyal to your brand. Rewards can include percentage or dollar discounts, buy-one-get-one (BOGO) programs and even the occasional ‘free’ product or service.
On the nonprofit side, integrating a local business reward with your fundraising has several benefits. Not only do you gain access to the business clients to extend your donor base, but the volume and dollar amount of donations will likely increase. If a donor was planning to make a $20 donation, but realizes they can get a discount for a local merchant if they increase the donation to $25 they are very likely to do so.
So how do you go about setting up a partnership with a local business? Start by looking in your own organization for connections; it is very possible that a board member, volunteer or donor has a business that would be an excellent partner. The existing commitment and interest in your cause can make this a very doable option.
If you don’t have a potential business partner already in your organizations, consider local businesses that you work with now. Is there a local restaurant you patronize frequently, are your company vehicles maintained by a local mechanic shop or do you use a specific supply vendor that also has a personal consumer base? Just knowing someone in the business can make things flow more smoothly.
The more likely scenario is identifying and reaching out to local businesses and sharing the value of participating with them. This is surprisingly easy, remember the business partner benefits in three ways – potential new clients in the donors who receive the reward and use it, increased loyalty from existing customers who also receive the reward when they donate and the overwhelmingly positive response to their increased philanthropy. Oh, and don’t forget that the value of the reward they offer may be a charitable deduction for the business – be sure the business verifies this with their accountant.
Consider taking your partner rewards even further by partnering with more than one business and offering a variety of rewards. This is another way to expand the opportunity for your organization – some donors will make an increased donation to get additional rewards and may also try new businesses in the same way.
Business-charity partnerships are making a difference in communities throughout the United States – find your partners and increase your fundraising!