- Fri, October 12 2007
- Filed under: Cause-related marketing
I’ve been asked by fellow bloggers at the Giving Carnival to answer the question, “Is relationship everything in philanthropy?” It will come as NO surprise that my answer is yes - I’m always ranting about treating individual donors like an audience not ATMs. So I’m going to take on a fresher angle today—striving for a relationship with your corporate partners or potential corporate partners. Because they don’t like being ATMs either.
Put yourself in their shoes for a moment.
There are about 1.5 million nonprofits, and most are hitting up you - the businessperson—for money. That’s a lot of competition.
And that’s the bad news.
The good news is, most nonprofits do a lousy job approaching businesspeople. It’s easy to stand out by doing better. Simply stop treating corporate folks as sources of money and start treating them as an audience.
Here are ten steps to doing that:
1. Find your match. Think of yourself as searching for a relationship (not a fat check) with a company. Any relationship needs compatibility to work. Ask yourself, who wins when I win? What corporations are natually aligned with my audience and my mission? You want to partner around mutual benefits or you won’t be partnering at all.
2. Find out the business AND philanthrophic agendas. You need to do some homework BEFORE you pick up the phone or fire off an email all about your organization. What are this company’s business priorities? Philanthrophic goals (because they likely already have some)? How can you align with those?
3. Find an entre. Find a board member or even LinkedIn connection who can introduce you so you’re not cold calling. I always respond to people who come recommended by someone I know, and businesspeople do, too.
4. Try to get to the businesspeople rather than the community service people. They have more power and can get things done faster. You’ll usually fare better if you’re coming in as a partner who can drive a brand or business initiative.
5. Start your sentences in the right way. Instead of: “This is what we do,” say “This is what we can do for you.”
6. Sell the benefits to them along with the social impact. Instead of: “We need x,” say “We understand you need x, and we can help make that happen.” Don’t only say: “This is who will benefit,” ADD, “AND this is how this benefits your image, bottom line, etc…”
7. Go into partnerships - like relationships - with open eyes. No partnership is perfect. Look for more positives than negatives in regard to fit and benefits and devise a plan for compensating for weaknesses within the alliance.
8. Put work into it. Inevitably, the benefits that partners receive will change, and one partner may perceive diminishing value. Create new benefits if commitment is flagging on one side.
9. Communicate constantly. Keep your partner energized by regularing sending them updates, examples of good press, positive reactions from people, stories about impact, etc.
10. Know when to call it quits. Knowing when to stop a partnership is as important as knowing when to start one. Declare success and move on when a goal has been achieved, or set a new, finite goal together. Better a clean finish than death by disintegration.