Tue, November 12 2013

4 Steps to Awesome #GivingTuesday Corporate-Cause Partnerships

Kate Olsen's avatar

VP of Strategic Projects, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Marketing essentials • Partnerships •

#GivingTuesday is December 3rd. How will your organization celebrate?

For those not in the know, #GivingTuesday™ is a campaign to add a national day of giving to the lineup of shopping days Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday.

#GivingTuesday is a prime opportunity for nonprofits and companies (and individuals) to collaborate for the greater good. Here are four steps to ensure your partnership’s success:

1.  Seek mission and values alignment.

There are many reasons to form cross-sector partnerships: promotion to a bigger audience, inspiration from new ideas and approaches, and access to additional skills, more resources, and knowledge. And there are also just as many reasons not to partner: Support can come with strings attached, lack of trust, conflicting goals, and mission creep. To ensure you create a winning partnership, take the time to make sure there’s a good fit between your mission and the corporate partner’s brand identity and goals.

Luna’s Pure Prevention campaign provides a great example of nonprofit-corporate alignment. As a provider of nutrition for active women, Luna teamed up with the Breast Cancer Fund to find and eliminate environmental and preventable causes of breast cancer—a major health issue for women. It just makes sense.

Who are your go-to partners for #GivingTuesday?


2. Leverage complementary assets.

Assets are any resources that you and your corporate partner bring to the table. In addition to funding, assets can include people, skills, audience reach, relationships, and technology. A partnership is not just about getting access to corporate philanthropic dollars: It’s about true collaboration. Think about what assets your nonprofit has that will be of value to a corporate partner, and vice versa. You have invested in a brand, program portfolio, supporter base, and other resources that will help make the partnership a success. Never discount what you bring to the table.

Coalitions also provide powerful opportunities to leverage collective assets for a common purpose. This year BMORE GIVES MORE brings together several nonprofit and corporate partners in Baltimore to consolidate each organization’s efforts and leverage #GivingTuesday to raise $5 million dollars in one day for causes in the city.

Who can you join with to create a big impact this #GivingTuesday?


3. Design the right partnership architecture.

Thinking through the goals of the partnership and designing a measurable campaign will help ensure transparency and focus, especially if you use those measurements to tell stories with impact. How can you engage supporters in relevant and meaningful ways? How will you measure their participation and communicate results?

One framework to help structure the partnership is the ladder of engagement. Offer your audience multiple ways to participate with your partnership based on their level of passion and commitment to the cause.  The No Kid Hungry campaign, led by Share Our Strength, does a great job of offering multiple ways to take action: donate, advocate, sign a pledge, spread the word, and raise money for your cause.

How can you offer a ladder of engagement for #GivingTuesday? First, understand where your supporters congregate online, then design calls to action that leverage those channels. (Don’t forget to repurpose this user-generated content all year to connect with supporters’ emotional ties to your cause. You can also track who is a big participant and cultivate them as a brand ambassador and uber-volunteer.) Here are a few ideas:

  •    #GivingTuesday Twitter chat (Encourage corporate sponsors to pledge $1 per tweet.)
  •    Random Acts of Kindness Facebook campaign (Have supporters share acts they performed or witnessed.)
  •    Inspirational generosity pins on Pinterest (Have supporters share what generosity means to them.)
  •    Kind deeds caught in the act on Instagram (Feature photos of generous acts and giving.)
  •    Messages of hope and generosity on YouTube (Feature testimonials about how giving affected their lives or messages of encouragement for your   program beneficiaries.)


4. Measure and communicate accomplishments.

Evolving a partnership requires taking the time to understand where you’ve been, what you’ve accomplished, and how you can keep improving. Communicating impact to partnership stakeholders is a vital piece of that process. It’s also important to communicate that to your donors, and never forget to say thank you! Did you know that an eCampaigning Review Study surveyed 2 million donors who gave to 50 nonprofits around the world and found that 70% of the nonprofits did not send an email thank you within 1 month of a donor’s gift? And 37% never sent a thank you email at all. Never! Don’t be one of those organizations. Be an awesome and amazing nonprofit sending immediate thanks yous that are personal, tangible, emotional, and about the donor—not your organization.

If you need inspiration, just check out the A Day Made Better thank you video for a refresher on powerful storytelling and expressing gratitude. You can also see how Phoenix House recapped their 2012 #GivingTuesday campaign and closed the loop for campaign participants with a heartfelt response from program beneficiaries.

Remember: Corporate-cause partnerships are all about relationships, collaboration, execution, and impact (and fun!).

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