It’s always been known that nonprofit organizations need cross-sector partners to successfully raise money for their causes. However, it hasn’t always been made aware of just how much nonprofits contribute to the success and positive culture of those corporations.
The need for organizations to partner with nonprofits in pursuit of broad-reaching outcomes has increased substantially over the last three decades. The nonprofit sector, in particular, has become an invaluable member of cross-sector partnerships.
For the convenience of these partnerships, Pledge has ideated and executed a groundbreaking system of eCommerce plugins to help nonprofits and companies collaborate effectively. These tools make working together a seamless process to ensure both cross-sector partners can equally benefit from one another.
As you know, nonprofits bring much-needed expertise, relevant resources, and management savviness to the cross-sector partnership table. Little is widely known about the specific type of resources nonprofit organizations contribute despite playing a vital role in cross-sector partnership activities.
Let’s explore some of the resources and values that nonprofits bring to the cross-sectional partnership table and, likewise, how nonprofits can benefit from these relationships!
What Nonprofits Bring to the Table
Corporations across the world are quickly seeing the value of forming professional and public relationships with nonprofit organizations. In fact, According to the Harvard Business Review, “Over 80% of millennials report that making a positive difference in the world is more important to them than professional recognition.”
That same article goes on to explain that for-profit organizations realize that they have the power to make a positive impact on the world. Instead of only focusing on making a profit, they are seeking to build charitable relationships with local nonprofits and their communities.
Nonprofits who know the value they bring to the table can move forward empowered by the knowledge that they also benefit the corporations they work alongside. Nonprofits can use this information to leverage sponsorships, donations, and even in-kind donations for their cause.
Confirm Mission Alignment
In order for nonprofit organizations to operate successfully and gain enough donations to function, they must have a well-formulated mission statement. Most thriving nonprofit organizations have clear and concise mission statements that tell others the exact direction they are heading.
Corporations that work closely with nonprofits often find that they learn quite a bit about their own organization’s mission. That is, corporations often learn a thing or two from nonprofits about developing a clear vision and relaying that to stakeholders.
Introduce Corporations to a Wider Audience
It’s no secret that corporations often seek out partnerships with nonprofit organizations as a means to further their own agenda. Think about it. In addition to donating money to an important cause, they receive public notoriety for being a philanthropic and charitable business.
Since the nonprofit sector is mostly community-based rather, they tend to have a massive following of people who support their cause. By teaming up with the nonprofit sector, other corporations often have the potential to reach a new and untapped market.
For other sectors, a wider audience means more eyes on their products or services. As you can imagine, that also means more sales. A cross-sector partnership, therefore, enables corporations to not only reach out to more potential clients of customers but also establish relationships in the new markets. It’s truly a win-win situation!
A Broader Point of View
Working alongside a nonprofit organization can teach a corporation all they need to know to better understand their surrounding community. Oftentimes, large businesses lose sight of what is important to the public around them.
As stated by Galaxy Digital, “Companies and nonprofits with common goals and missions are linking up for the benefit of one another and for communities.” Nonprofits can help other sectors recognize their values and harness that information for the benefit of the community.
Facilitate Efficiency and Collaboration
Working within a cross-sector partnership invites a greater number of highly intelligent, passionate, and capable people together! Sharing expertise and knowledge in certain areas can unlock new opportunities and networks.
Furthermore, cross-sector collaboration is known for sparking innovation! One organization meeting in the middle with a nonprofit organization to accomplish a common goal is a wonderful way for those two separate entities to learn from each other.
They Bring Communities Together
In a study reported on Visible Network Labs, it was found “that nonprofit organizations contributed a greater number of in-kind resources (e.g., meeting space), domain expertise, volunteers, community connections, leadership, and advocacy relative to their for-profit and governmental counterparts.”
As previously mentioned, nonprofit organizations often come with a large following from their respective communities. They have the power of introducing corporations to the world of volunteering and coming together to achieve one common mission.
A notable example is in Western Afghanistan, where a group of partners collaborated to rebuild long-term infrastructures and further long-lasting agricultural efforts. All the partners involved invested their energy, time, and resources alongside their community members to develop interconnected programs that would enable them to achieve their goals.
Surprisingly, all the stakeholders in that area worked closely with the foundations and government to plan and carry out all duties. All the local entities, from opinion leaders to village councils, took ownership of these projects. In other words, the founders of the partnership treated stakeholders as permanent co-owners of the investment, which resulted in the success of the project.
Provide a Necessary Push
With a cross-sector partnership, it is easy to draw or combine and share various financial tools and investments. This presents significant benefits because the partnership will be able to diversify financial risks and expand the available pool of capital, which is essential for carrying out plans and delivering outcomes. This also means that participating partners will benefit from a versatile and coordinated portfolio of funders due to the blended financial capital coming from different sources.
A notable example is the story of Communitas, which is a Brazilian nonprofit organization committed to improving the transparency and reliability of city services across Brazil. Communitas received funding from various sources such as corporate leaders, successful private sectors, and philanthropy. With such a portfolio of finances, major cities in Brazil are modernizing their public processes such as financial management, public health systems, building permits, and strategic planning, which all increase the transparency and efficiency of civil engagement.
How Nonprofits Can Benefit from Cross-Sector Partners
It’s no secret that nonprofits often receive much of their funding through cross-sector partners. Corporations love to promote the fact that they support some sort of community-serving nonprofit organization. While it is simple to say nonprofits can get money, there are many ways in which that can occur.
While some organizations might want to take a more active role in community-based programs, others may want to simply donate money to the cause. Whether a cross-sector partner wants to be more hands-on by contributing volunteers or they would prefer to just write a check, there are a variety of ways in which they can contribute.
Workplace Giving Programs
Nonprofit organizations will always want to work with corporate organizations that will allow employees to deduct their donations directly from their paycheck (workplace-giving programs). Therefore, a workplace-giving program is not only an easy way for employees to make charitable contributions to the company’s cause but also makes contributions more manageable.
It is also possible for nonprofits to leverage corporate fundraising partnerships by letting the employers match the amount of money contributed by the employees. This is one of the popular ways of encouraging employees to make more contributions.
Cash and In-Kind Donations
Did you know that a corporation can choose between two different types of donation? There are the cash donations we all know about, and then that are “in-kind” donations. Of course, a cash donation is the transfer of funds to a nonprofit. In-kind donations are the transfer of assets to a nonprofit such as a skill, computer software, legal counsel, or services.
Rather than relying on cash donations, some nonprofit organizations prefer in-kind donations, which can boost their ability to generate more money for their cause. For example, instead of relying on company A for a cash donation, company A can allow the nonprofit organization to use its brand or copyrights to run its own independent business. The proceeds can be channeled to benefit the nonprofit’s cause.
This is one of the most popular ways in which nonprofits have leveraged strategic cross-sector partnerships to raise more money! When a nonprofit and a corporate organization agree on a mutually beneficial marketing strategy, they often enter into a cause marketing partnership. Corporate organizations can leverage the good reputation of nonprofit organizations associated with their social and environmental cause.
By working with a nonprofit organization, corporate organizations have a better chance of convincing consumers to switch to their brand. Likewise, nonprofits will benefit from an increase in funding for their cause in addition to additional visibility to other donors. This is another opportunity where organizations and companies use Pledge to run a cause marketing campaign that includes a point of sale donation option.
The partnership between Coke and the World Wildlife Fund is a notable example. Impressively, The World Wildlife Fund managed to raise over 3 million in donations from the partnership.
For nonprofits, corporate sponsorship means asking partners to pay for a particular event or program. While the nonprofits gain more money from the sponsored events, the corporate sponsor will also benefit from the sponsored event.
Having the company’s name appear in the event title or even displayed logos will help them gain exposure as a charitable entity in the community. Of course, this is just to draw a positive association between the event or program and the corporation.
Successful Ways Nonprofits Can Engage Corporate Partners
There’s no doubt that corporate partners have much to gain by working with and helping nonprofit organizations. Although it has been proven time and time again that nonprofits bring quite a bit of value to cross-sector partnerships, it can sometimes be difficult for nonprofits to get their foot in the door.
That is, initially forming a professional and mutually beneficial relationship with a corporation can be quite difficult. Check out these top tips to help you prepare and situate your nonprofit organization to attract the attention of potential corporate partners.
In order for corporations to believe in your nonprofit’s cause, your entire nonprofit outreach team must first internalize the core mission of your organization. Volunteers half-heartedly reaching out to corporations and asking for donations or sponsorships are not going to earn you the results you’re looking for. Outreach teams who are confident and well-spoken about the nonprofit’s mission and how a partnership can be mutually beneficial will get you much further!
Social Media Presence
For more businesses and even nonprofits hoping to reach a wide audience, establishing a social media presence is crucial. “Social media advertising is critical because it allows you to hyper-target specific users, build an audience database and directly track your return on investment” (Forbes).
Most nonprofit organizations have amazing social media content regarding the impact they’ve made on the community or planet. However, they often forget to publicly thank the individuals and corporations that helped them get there.
On your social media platform, consider featuring your most active partners. By acknowledging those cross-sector partners, you are encouraging them to participate more in the future. In addition, you are showing potential future partners that they don’t be left in the dark once you reach success.
While working with nonprofit organizations, cross-sector partners enjoy receiving regular updates about how their contributions are making a positive difference in the world. In addition, it also helps if they are updated on how their nonprofit partner is also benefiting their bottom line— more sales.
Nonprofits who hope to maintain healthy cross-sector relationships should establish a plan for keeping their corporate partners updated on their progress. This will show the corporation that the partnership is well worth the investment; plus, it’ll make them feel appreciated and good about their contribution.
From all that is mentioned above, it is clear that corporations and nonprofits can only benefit from working together. When choosing products and services to purchase, consumers are more likely to go for the brand that makes them feel good about their choice. Corporations can build this positive perception by partnering with a nonprofit for a good cause.
Likewise, nonprofits benefit immensely from things like additional funding, resources, and additional volunteers that corporations can offer. Above all, cross-sector partnerships result in communities that are happier, healthier, and more trusting of their local corporations.
To make these partnerships more streamlined, nonprofits and companies can work through Pledge as a way to ensure they are doing their due diligence for the partnership. Through these innovative plugins, companies can check in real-time the positive impact their contributions are making. In addition, they can browse a list of nonprofits for new potential partnerships.
For more valuable and applicable information about how nonprofits can successfully work alongside cross-sector partners, visit my Resources page! Here, you can find regularly-posted articles about today’s best practices in the nonprofit world.