Nonprofit organizations and emerging businesses can partner for mutual benefit. Working together, each entity can leverage their own assets and those of the other party. That’s right – we’re talking classic “win-win.” Here’s what we mean.
If you are growing a business, think about a nonprofit that shares your values and mission – one you can partner with to create a mutually beneficial relationship. The nonprofit you choose could be one that operates within the geographic or demographic market you serve. Or, for example, if yours is a construction related business you can partner with a nonprofit that helps people remain in their homes as they age; one that provides services to people without a place to call home; or a building trades training program. There’s no right or wrong organization to select: what’s important is shared values; a desire on the part of both entities to create a mutually beneficial partnership; and open and honest communication.
Related to this, if you are with a nonprofit seeking to build a partnership with an emerging business, learn more about businesses you believe share your values and where you both can work together for mutual benefit – and benefit to the community. Think about the opportunities you could offer a business that could be beneficial. For example, can you increase the number of potential customers who know about their product or service; could they host a small, safe gathering for your nonprofit in their space, allowing your board members or constituents the opportunity to experience their business firsthand?
Create a “growth pact” with each other: a short document that communicates your shared values; the business goals of each entity; and ways that each can support the other. Meet quarterly to identify opportunities for updating each other on accomplishments, challenges, and opportunities. Most importantly map out mutually beneficial opportunities for the coming quarter and review results of mutual endeavors from the prior quarter. As always, update your pact so that both parties benefit through changing times and market conditions/opportunities.
Here are a few more ideas to consider. Mutual leadership support: interested board members from the nonprofit could provide business expertise or an introduction that could help jumpstart an emerging business; and investors, board members or advisors of the business could help the nonprofit find a solution to a challenge or a way to take advantage of an opportunity. Individuals within each entity will have resources they can share to help the other.
Consider engaging in joint promotions that engage a shared constituency; a nonprofit’s prospects and donors may be a potential pool of customers for an emerging business, and a business’ clients or customers may want to give to the nonprofit partner. Don’t overlook marketing programs where a business highlights a nonprofit, pledging to donate a percentage of sales to the organization. An emerging business can benefit from affiliation with a recognized nonprofit with advertising that includes the phrase “Proud to support xyz nonprofit.”
Remember: keep it simple and mutually beneficial. Start small and build together.