Sparking Corporate Partnerships: Welcome to the Neighborhood
In today's environment there is still potential in cause marketing and corporate partnerships between your nonprofit and a for-profit business, large or small. Here's a look at some do's and don'ts when exploring corporate partnerships.
Jocelyne Daw, nonprofit marketing and development consultant, noted speaker and author of Cause Marketing for Nonprofits: Partner for Purpose, Passion and Profits, says nowadays corporate partnerships are still an opportunity for nonprofits. While in some companies, traditional corporate philanthropy may shrink or remain roughly the same, many companies recognize the benefits of community involvement and are committed to remaining active members.
"We are really looking at a new era of corporate community involvement," Daw explains. "There is a growing recognition that company engagement is a must-do. Companies are embracing this new ethos and adding alternative forms of philanthropy and expanding marketing involvement."
When the financial resources of companies are stable or dwindling, savvy nonprofit are looking to non-cash support such as in-kind donations, pro bono services, providing office space and skilled volunteerism. These "new currencies," a term coined by Cone Inc., can help organizations fulfill their mission and build relationships beyond the traditional forms of support.
From President Obama's national call to service to the enthusiasm of the younger generations for service and involvement, these new forms of philanthropy are resonating particularly well with Gen X employees, Daw explains. This group is often as interested in social advocacy and engagement philanthropy as they are to donating money.
At the same time, companies are now increasingly interested in their image and identity within the community. Faced with concerns for more transparency and accountability, they want to "do good" and tie their brand to good causes. This is a convergence of trends that makes now a great time to partner with companies-via marketing and publicity, sponsorship or cause marketing.
Many Avenues of Partnership
Daw explains that corporate philanthropy is really only one step toward a company's involvement in a cause. Cause-marketing, sometimes known as business-community partnerships, is defined as a company putting the power of its marketing and brand behind a cause, and has been increasing over the past year. An opportunity to provide direct supports to a nonprofit organization and gain critical image building and product sales, cause marketing, done right, is a win-win proposition.
For fundraisers, granting multiple avenues for a company to contribute in this manner may very well open doors for cash gifts in the future, and for the time being will increase the brand awareness of your organization and its unique mission. Partnerships done right make more happen for the people you serve and have positive impact for both parties.
Doing it Right
So how can you make the most of the opportunities out there for corporate partnerships? Better yet, where do you begin? Daw says a successful partnership has a few important ingredients (adapted from Daw's Seven Golden Rules for cause marketing found in her book).
Think win-win: Cause partnerships are about win-win relationships. Ask what's important to your partner? How can you help them achieve their goals? In return, think about what your organization wants to get out of the relationship - exposure, revenue, new friends? Communicate your needs, listen to theirs and work collaboratively in a way that is win-win. Success for both partners ensures a relationship not a transaction is the end result.
Focus on values alignment: Daw writes of the importance of ensuring positive brand and "DNA" alignment. Working with a company that shares your organizations values and commitments will ensure a better fit and offer the potential of a longer term relationship.
Combine strengths: A cause-marketing partnership is only as strong as the relationship your organization has with a company. Find out what each of you have to offer, be it strategic planning, communications, marketing, technology or tracking of the project's success. Combine those strengths to make the best campaign, event or project possible.
Have structure, framework and legal requirements in place: While corporate sponsorships provide valuable income to nonprofits, they must be careful to structure mutually beneficial and protective relationships. To avoid risks, especially of implied endorsement, nonprofits are now clearly articulating all aspects of cause marketing partnerships and performing due diligence to make sure that no conflicts of interest exist between the nonprofit and the partner company.
Plan, under promise and over deliver: Joint planning up front ensures that both partners understand what is expected and outlines a timeline and roles and responsibilities. Under promise and over deliver is important in managing your partner's expectation. Better to succeed and surprise than fail and disappoint.
What to Avoid
What do you want to avoid from your company partnership? First, your cause-marketing relationship should not be too one-sided, self-serving or commercial. You want to have advertising that is sincere and that does not appear as an endorsement of a company. It is also critical to protect the integrity of your organization's brand and visual identity. You want to boost your presence in people's minds, not blur it. Above all, recognize the value of what your organization has to offer in a partnership. Do not sell your nonprofit short in what it receives in the relationship. Do your due diligence, assess risks and be sure the company you work with really "walks the talk" in its support of your mission and the greater community.
Learn more from Daw's book, Cause Marketing for Nonprofits: Partner for Purpose, Passion and Profits, available in the AFP Bookstore. Daw is working on a new book titled "Breakthrough Nonprofit Branding: The Seven Principles to Power Extraordinary Growth," coauthored with Carol Cone, Kristian Darigan and Anne Erhard, set for release in spring 2010.
Jocelyne Daw is a veteran marketer, fundraiser, author and frequent presenter. She formerly served as vice president, marketing and community engagement at Imagine Canada.
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To Get Our Name Out There
By Derrick Feldmann
eWire contributing writer Derrick Feldmann shares advice and perspective on how to raise awareness of your nonprofit organization by the good work your organization does, not by the efforts it makes to simply "get attention."
I sat in the client's board meeting, trying hard to play the "fly on the wall," listening and absorbing everything but not commenting on what I heard. All through the meeting, I wrote feverishly, filling pages of paper with comments and cues from the board members and staff.
And, sure enough, before long, I heard those six magic words: "To get our name out there."
My colleagues and I often hear this phrase in such "fly on the wall" sessions. Then we usually see almost everyone in the room nod with approval and, without comment or question, move on to discuss other matters. And, in so doing, they often give validation to activities that offer no real return.
Recently, when an organization used that phrase to justify a program that, to us, seemed off-mission and ineffective, we decided to put their theory to the test. We pulled analytics from the organization's website to see if it was getting the traffic its board and staff suggested. We analyzed impressions from public relations efforts and media coverage to see if the organization was, indeed, gaining any marketplace "traction" as a result of the program.
Through our analysis we discovered that, not only did the organization receive little to no mentions as a result of the program, but the organization spent so much of its financial and human resources on the program that core work was being abandoned. In other words, the return on investment from the program was negative and the organization was losing opportunities by focusing on it.
We weren't surprised. In case after case, we see organizations operating programs, holding events and undertaking other activities for the sole purposes of "awareness raising." And in case after case, we see that the public failed to respond the way the organization expected.
So what should organizations do to "get their name out there?" Effective organizations do it by dedicating time to the following:
Lead with Impact. Organizations that discuss impact, tell stories, highlight people and let their work speak for itself "get their name out there" in a way that re-engages past and current donors, and ignites new donor motivations.
Focus on the cause. Organizations that spend time raising the awareness of the cause or issue they address in the community are the ones that truly do "get their name out there." They build awareness through programs, partnering with other organizations not to highlight themselves, but to shed light on the importance of issues affecting their community.
Let others spread the good news. Effective communicators turn to the people affected by an issue - the ones who receive services, and individuals who encounter the work of the organization - to spread the good news. Through word of mouth, technology, and other peer-to-peer strategies, those people will tell others why the organization is relevant and important.
Show expertise. Organizations can get attention by talking, writing and performing activities that showcase the organization and its people as experts. They spend time talking about research in the field, unmet needs and models not only of their work but of others', too. They compare and contrast information in a way that sends a message to those listening, prodding them to think, "The next time we need help on this issue, we know who to call."
How can you avoid the "to get our name out there" pitfall? Ask yourself these questions:
- 1. If we succeed in getting our name out there, what will success mean?
- 2. How can we spread the word through the people we serve?
- 3. Given our resources, what is more important: doing this activity to get our name out there, or spending time developing meaningful relationships with the people we serve and groups we work with?
Don't focus on getting attention; generate attention by elevating the cause you address and the people you serve. People like to hear stories about people overcoming challenges; they don't enjoy reading press releases highlighting the number of people you have in your office, the size of your headquarters building, or the biggest grant you ever received. That might "get your name out there," but it won't make people pay attention.
Derrick Feldmann is CEO of Achieve LLC. Achieve is a consulting firm that serves small and mid-sized nonprofits and organizations with new or emerging development programs (www.achieveguidance.com).
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NPD Canadian Globe and Mail Supplement Set for Nov. 13
AFP will again be partnering with the Canada's most-read national newspaper, The Globe and Mail, to produce a special supplement on philanthropy and fundraising on Nov. 13.
The supplement, titled Canada's Future: Philanthropy in Action, will showcase the work of Canada's charitable sector and the impact it has on all aspects of society. Specific articles will focus on new programs and innovations helping Canadians, partnerships between donors and charities, young people as donors and volunteers, and how to get started professionally in the charitable sector.
Members are encouraged to advertize in this premier report because it will be a tremendous opportunity to reach a wide cross-section of donors and constituents. Special advertizing discounts are available. The deadline for reserving space is Oct. 9.
A copy of last year's National Philanthropy Day® supplement can be found here.
The supplement will include a limited number of one-eighth, quarter-, half- and full-page advertizing positions. The Globe and Mail will also reprint additional copies of the report and provide an online PDF version of the supplement. The special section also will appear online at www.globeandmail.com for seven days and thereafter will be archived for 90 days.
"AFP is excited to work again with The Globe and Mail because this supplement gives members the best chance to reach out to donors and the public across Canada and demonstrate the impact they're having," said Paulette V. Maehara, CFRE, CAE, president and CEO of AFP. "With so many charities competing for the charitable dollar, it can be difficult to get your message out to the public, but participating in this special supplement on Nov. 13 can expose your organization to a host of new potential supporters."
The Globe and Mail reaches 1.3 million daily readers and is a favorite publication of Canadian senior executives, read by 71 percent of all executives and 76 percent of presidents, CEOs and chairpersons.
The attached sell sheet has additional information about the supplement. Interested members can contact Richard Deacon, project manager, at (604) 631-6636 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Member Motion Reminder
Changed jobs recently? Accepted a new challenge? Received an accolade for your work and accomplishments? Let your colleagues and AFP know! Simply send your current AND new job information (including city and state/province), or information about your recognition, to email@example.com. Please include the phrase "member motion" in the subject line.
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Upcoming Web/Audioconference: How Great Teams Turn Conflict into Strength
October 8| 1-2:30 pm ET
Author and adviser Diana Smith, partner at The Monitor Group, will draw on in-depth case studies, including those in her book, Divide or Conquer: How Great Teams Turn Conflict into Strength. This session shows how relationships turn a bunch of individuals into a team, then determine the fate of both. By bringing relationships front and center and then using case studies to peer inside them, this session will help participants understand how relationships work, develop, and change; how to build relationships strong enough to master the toughest challenges facing their teams; and how to use conflicts to create better solutions while strengthening relationships.
**To register go to www.afpnet.org and click on Web//Audioconferences under the Professional Development tab.