Collaboration between corporations and nonprofit organizations is a powerful way to create positive and lasting change. Corporate-nonprofit partnerships are resources and visibility to nonprofit organizations while elevating the reputation of the corporations. In order to unlock the full potential of corporate-nonprofit partnerships, it is important to set realistic goals together and create an equitable value exchange. 

In this blog post, we will dive deeper into:

  • What defines a corporate-nonprofit partnership
  • Why engage in a corporate partnership
  • How to get started and attract corporate partners
  • How to ensure a lasting, mutually-beneficial collaboration



What is a Corporate-Nonprofit Partnership?

A corporate nonprofit partnership is a mutually beneficial relationship between a for-profit company and a charitable organization. The goal of the partnership is to help the nonprofit organization achieve its mission, while also helping the company promote its values and build strong relationships within the community. Corporate philanthropy has evolved from traditional check writing to more strategic initiatives that involve more hands-on involvement from the corporate partner.



The Benefits of Corporate-Nonprofit Partnerships


For Nonprofits:

1. Increased visibility & awareness

Corporate partners can leverage their established networks and platforms to help get the word out about the nonprofit’s mission and work. This often includes the company providing financial support and/or in-kind donations, as well as promoting the nonprofit’s activities on social media and in other outlets.

2. Access to new resources

Corporate partners also bring new resources to the table. These resources could include access to capital, technical know-how, and/or marketing expertise. This can be especially beneficial for smaller nonprofits that lack the capacity to access these resources on their own.

3. Increased volunteer pool

Partnerships expand your organization's existing network. These new connections can be leveraged to open new doors. Your volunteer and donor pool will grow significantly. 


For Corporations:

1. Improved reputation

A successful corporate nonprofit partnership can also result in an improved reputation for the corporate partner. Companies that actively support community initiatives are often seen in a more favorable light by their customers and the public at large.

2. Advertising opportunities

These partnerships open new doors for advertising opportunities externally at nonprofit events and internally on marketing materials. This increases their exposure and can help them tap into a new market. 

3. Employee morale

Employees perform better when they feel like feeling good about the work that they are doing. They will take pride in where they work knowing that it is having a great impact on their community. 

4. Appeal to a client base

Clients may be more inclined to spend their dollars at a corporation that uses its resources for the greater good. Everyone likes doing business with like-minded people. Nonprofit partnerships are a way for corporations to demonstrate their values.



Getting Started

1. Identify potential partners

The first step is to identify potential partners. Consider any companies that already have a relationship with your nonprofit organization or those that are a good fit with your organization’s mission. Nonprofits and corporations in similar spaces will have a high chance of being compatible. For example, a food shelf might partner with a grocery store, or an animal shelter might partner with a PetCo. Take into account the corporation's values as well. It is important to be proud of your alliance, you cannot have a successful partnership without mutual respect. Lean into your connections through your board members or volunteers to get introductions with these local businesses that have positive reputations. 

2. Determine the value exchange

When determining your value exchange you should include both financial and non-financial contributions. Look for solutions to each other's problems. For example, an animal shelter might be in need of pet food, while a pet store needs an easy way to get rid of returned pet food that is unsellable. The arrangement must be equitable in order to be successful, and it is important to be transparent about this. There is no reason to form a partnership where both sides aren't comfortable, and excited about the terms. Before you come to the table, determine what benefits would make this corporate sponsorship worth the investment of your resources. That being said, don't forget to save a seat for compromise at the table as well. 

3. Establish mutual objectives

Ensure that everyone involved is on the same page. Both sides should work together to determine your ultimate, mutually beneficial objectives. Remember that you are working together towards the same positive outcome- you are not using each other just to reach your own goals. 

4. Establish open communication

Establish continued open communication and transparency with each other. This will set you up for a long and productive relationship. 



Partnership Models

1. Corporate sponsorships

This is when businesses sponsor specific programs or events that the nonprofit puts on. It is one of the most visible partnerships. Cash donations directly support the nonprofit's operations, or in-kind donations specifically supply resources the nonprofit needs. 

2. Direct donations

These are direct cash donations or in-kind donations that are not associated with a specific program or event. It is a more private sponsorship. 

3. Volunteer programs

Set up a program where businesses send their employees to volunteer with your nonprofit. These volunteers could help staff a public event for a more visible partnership, or do behind-the-scenes work for a private partnership.

4. Workplace giving

Workplace giving programs are when businesses collect donations from their employees for a specific nonprofit. The business will often encourage donations by offering to match the total raised. This allows employees to feel a direct sense of accomplishment even if they cannot take time out of their day to volunteer directly. 

5. Corporate partner fundraising

Do you know when the teller at the grocery store asks if you would like to round up your total to help with childhood cancer? They are participating in partner fundraising. This is where they ask their customers for donations rather than their employees. This model is especially effective for increasing your nonprofit's visibility in the community. 



Corporate nonprofit partnerships can be a great way to create positive and lasting change in your community. By leveraging corporations' established networks and resources, these companies provide valuable support to nonprofit organization partners.