Note from Beth: I’ve known Simon Mainwaring for several years and have been a big fan of his social good work with corporations. He is one of the best teachers to learn howto use brand storytelling and social media to build your organization’s reputation, donor community, and social impact. He is offering a seminar (visit www.WeFirst13.com for details). You’ll learn from global marketing leads at Coca-Cola, Starbucks, Toyota, the UN Foundation and charity:water at the We First Seminar. If a for-profit colleague registers, you can attend as their guest for free. Or, two non-profits can share the cost. Be sure to enter the discount code: SIMON to receive 50% of the ticket price.
7- Step Non-Profit Plan to Attract and Keep Corporate Partners – Guest Post by Simon Mainwaring
One of the positive outcomes of greater corporate scrutiny is the rising importance of non-profit partnerships. That said one of the toughest hurdles every non-profit faces is how to present the opportunity in a way that inspires interest and commitment from the corporation. Surprisingly, many non-profits fail to secure valuable partnerships not because the companies are too busy or disinterested, but because they fail to frame the it in the right way.
If there’s a single mistake behind the majority of failed partnership attempts, it’s this. Too many non-profits approach companies with their cause in mind, rather than explaining how working together will help the corporation. This is not to say that the cause, whether it be access to clean water, cancer research or childhood education, does not carry a compelling moral imperative that is reason enough for the company to get involved. It simply fails to recognize that their audience – time-poor, overloaded and busy corporate partners – respond far better to a solution to an existing problem than the addition of a new one.
With this in mind a non-profit must follow seven key steps in order to attract the attention of a corporate partner and maintain their partnership over time.
1. Study your audience: Every corporation has specific business objectives, unique core values, and several targeted audiences that they are trying to reach. By opening your presentation with an understanding of their key business drivers, you have instantly position a partnership as a benefit rather than a burden.
2. Distinct point of view: Many non-profits confuse the cause they support as their brand, when in fact you need to have a distinct point of view on that cause to stand out from your competitors and align effectively with a company. For example, is the focus of your work improving the life of cancer survivors or funding research for a cure? As more corporations commit resources to social impact work, they are being forced to define their sustainability, cause marketing or Foundation work in similar ways. Specificity on your part will help to clarify your alignment or provide that company with much need specificity.
3. Customer engagement: The most effective way to ensure a corporate partner commits its resources to your efforts is to show the corporation how working together will increase their customer community engagement. Only then will the company commit the time, creativity and resources required to raise your profile and scale your social impact.
4. Creative content: Every company is burdened with the need to create more content to feed multiple social media channels. By explaining how your team can help co-create branded content using different media, you can position the partnership as a way to ease this burden while enhancing the company’s reputation.
5. Celebrate success: Every corporation is seeking to mitigate risk and earn customer goodwill, and social impact work is an important part of that effort. But these efforts will only build the company’s reputation if the success stories are told. So be sure to position a partnership in terms of content creation that celebrates their social impact earning customer loyalty, goodwill and sales.
6. Measurement and metrics: While corporations are keen to increase their social impact work, they are still faced with justifying the cost to leadership. A powerful way to overcome this obstacle is to include the metrics by which success will be measured both in terms of the social impact and the value to the brand. Such accountability will give the brand confidence to commit to the partnership and help them sell it internally.
7. Leadership engagement: Every CEO is now charged with the responsibility of being the face of the brand, whether it’s because they want to raise the social profile of the company or because they’re caught in a PR crisis. By designing a role for leadership within your partnership efforts, and sharing this engagement with employees, you can secure greater executive support and offer additional benefits including improved employee satisfaction and productivity.
The theme of these seven points is how a non-profit must frame a partnership in ways that solve existing problems for the corporation. As with any relationship, once the benefit to the other party is clear they will more readily share their time, expertise and resources. Without such an approach, the best of intentions and heart-felt commitment can fall on deaf ears, leaving both parties and the community at large the poorer.
If you are interested in learning from the world’s best community builders in how to use brand storytelling and social media to build your reputation, donor community, and social impact, visit www.WeFirst13.com You’ll learn from global marketing leads at Coca-Cola, Starbucks, Toyota, the UN Foundation and charity:water at the We First Seminar. If a for-profit colleague registers, you can attend as their guest for free. Or, two non-profits can share the cost. Be sure to enter the discount code: SIMON to receive 50% of the ticket price.
Simon Mainwaring is the CEO of We First and author of the New York Times bestseller, We First. He works with major corporations and Foundations helping them tell the story of the good work they do in ways that build their reputation, community and social impact.