Whether you sit on a committee for a nonprofit thinking of ways to reach new eyes or you’re a marketing, employee engagement, or even risk management business executive, Starfish Impact has put together a guide to the ultimate nonprofit – corporate partnership.
There are four types of partnerships that generally yield the best results. They are: Cross brand partnerships, quick response partnerships, values alignment partnerships, and long-term partnerships. Read on for more details on each of these best practice partnerships and why you should consider this for your organization.
Cross Brand Partnerships
These are partnerships that…make sense. These partnerships generally include an element of vertical market integration where there is a vested interest for the corporations to be a strong partner in a field that affects their product down the line. This is often seen with beverage companies like Coca Cola, or Anheuser Busch who recognize that local water production and strong community distribution networks are critical to their ability to get their product to market. Our favorite example of bringing this partnership to the public is Stella Artois’ and Water.Org’s Super Bowl ad and subsequent commercials highlighting this partnership.
Quick Response Partnerships
Partnerships that quickly appear in response to a crisis are a delicate balance of seeming responsive without seeming rushed. Generally, anything done hastily in the social sector has minimal real impact or value, however there are a few examples where we’ve been impressed with the sophistication of a partnership that developed quickly following an issue. A recent example of this was Starbucks partnering with the ADL and the NAACP to provide racial bias training in response to an incident at a Philadelphia store. While this nonprofit – corporate partnership was not without its criticism, many also complemented the aggressive response from the executives and their ability to step back to step up.
Values Alignment Partnership
In theory, all partnerships should be values aligned, however these earn recognition as a standalone corporate – nonprofit partnership type since they still seem to be less frequent than we would like to see. A values aligned partnership is one where both parties have values that are complementary. Whirlpool demonstrates this well. They highlight quality family life as a corporate value and support nonprofits that also focus on families like their Care Counts initiative. This partnership operates under the presumption that if students have clean clothes, they are more likely to attend school and thus more likely to also have better performance results. Thus far, they have seen positive results from the initiative and expanded the partnership to include nonprofit Teach for America.
Long Term Partnerships
The most successful nonprofit – corporate partnerships we have worked with have been ones that are here to make change, not change the marketing. Long term investments in a specific issue or a specific nonprofit demonstrate a corporation’s genuine desire to move the needle. Quicken Loans has long been supporting veteran causes and their recent initiative to alleviate veterans experiencing homelessness is a perfect example of how the cause has real meaning for this corporation.
Continue reading the second part of our two-part guide to better understand what elements to look for in a successful corporate – nonprofit partnership.
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