While the for-profit and nonprofit sectors have different goals, their interests are more aligned than they might seem.
Cross-sector collaborations between nonprofits and companies are mutually beneficial for all parties involved. Not only do nonprofits receive much-needed funding for their initiatives, but corporate funders reap many benefits. For example, being publicly associated with a charitable organization will boost the company’s reputation and attract the 70% of the workforce that believes businesses must lead with a purpose. Plus, employees who work for socially-responsible companies report feeling more motivated, hardworking, and satisfied with their employer.
Before jumping into a cross-sector collaboration with a brand, it’s important to understand the traits of a winning partnership. Let’s review the fundamentals of corporate social responsibility before exploring tips and tricks for optimizing your cross-sector partnership with a purpose-driven brand.
What is CSR?
According to Double the Donation, corporate social responsibility (CSR) is the idea that for-profit companies should contribute to social welfare and make a difference in their community.
Many brands choose to participate in CSR by donating to charities and other nonprofits that are related to their industry. Businesses can either make several smaller donations to many charities, or they can undertake an in-depth partnership with a few nonprofit partners.
Additionally, a relationship with a CSR department doesn’t have to be purely financial. If your nonprofit needs physical resources more than money, you can ask your brand partner to provide these supplies as in-kind donations. Or, your business collaborator and their employees can donate time by volunteering for your organization.
Now that you know the basics of CSR, here are some pointers for optimizing your partnership with a purpose-driven brand.
Partner with brands related to your cause
While a donation to any nonprofit is useful and appreciated, your corporate partner will appear more genuine if they partner with a charity that has a similar story and is in a related industry. Donating to a nonprofit making changes in their customers’ community will stand out more than donating to an unrelated organization. Plus, your organization can boost its reputation by associating with a respected business in your community.
Here are some examples of intuitive cross-sector partnerships:
- A pet store partnering with an animal shelter
- A law firm partnering with a legal aid organization
- A grocery store partnering with a food bank
Before selecting a corporate partner, research brands in your community that have similar audiences and whose missions would complement your nonprofit’s story.
Open your communication channels
Your collaboration with a purpose-driven brand should be a true partnership. Before choosing a brand partner, ensure that you’re on the same page about their time commitment, responsibilities, and pledged support.
Once you partner up, build in ample time for you and your point of contact to touch base about how the engagement’s going. Having a regular communication cadence, like weekly meetings, is crucial to ensure both parties ultimately have a positive experience and benefit from the partnership.
Offer many ways for your partner to contribute
Since CSR encompasses many kinds of support, give your partner the same flexibility in your collaboration. Here are some ways your partner can give back:
- Organize a company volunteering day. Your partner can maximize their impact by involving the entire company, from the c-suite to new hires. Not only will team volunteering days impact your nonprofit, but they’ll build the team’s interpersonal relationships too.
- Offer matching gifts. Matching employee contributions empowers your partner’s team to amplify their effect on your cause. Billions in matching gift revenue go unclaimed each year, so encourage your partner to become a matching gift company!
- Donate fundraising prizes. No matter who your corporate partner is or what they specialize in, your donors can find value in their offerings. So, your collaborator can donate their products as prizes for other fundraising events. For instance, if you’re partnering with a bike shop, they can donate bikes for you to use as auction prizes.
These are just a few ways your partner brand can support your cause. Be sure to discuss these methods with your partner so you can find a solution that works best for both of you.
Coordinate your marketing efforts
One of the most important parts of your CSR collaboration is spreading awareness for your cause and your partner’s engagement with you. A strong marketing strategy will drive traffic to your organization and your partner’s business, and merging your voices will attract more potential customers and donors to your organization and partner brand.
Therefore, your nonprofit and corporate partner should coordinate marketing efforts. That way, your audiences will know that both parties are connected and committed to your cause.
When two organizations are involved in one CSR partnership, unifying both voices and stories can be difficult. But, according to Fifty & Fifty, a nonprofit marketing agency can help you blend both voices and visions into one cohesive and effective collaboration. Plus, they can help you leverage new marketing channels, such as social media and search engine grants, so you can reach a wider audience.
Collect data and readjust over time
Collecting and analyzing data from your CSR partnership is critical for staying organized and improving your organization over time. Monitoring several key performance indicators (KPIs) will help you determine how successful your partnership is, what’s working, and what isn’t. Here are some metrics that you and your partner could track:
- For your partner: Customers acquired, employee satisfaction, and revenue change over time
- For your organization: Donors acquired, fundraising ROI, matching gift revenue, and revenue growth from previous fundraising efforts
Choose which KPIs you’ll monitor based on your desired outcomes of the collaboration. Even once this CSR partnership ends, this data will inform your future campaigns and allow you to strengthen your fundraising tactics continually.
Now that you know how to run an effective CSR collaboration, it’s time to take on the most critical part of the process: finding a partner. Make your research into like-minded brands a breeze by using digital nonprofit software, such as a corporate giving platform. Corporate giving software solutions use many criteria, such as focus industry and type of support needed, to match your nonprofit with the best cross-sector fit.
Above all, ensure that your partner is genuine and committed. That way, you’ll both be able to achieve your internal goals while providing necessary support for the world around you.