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Corporate Partnership Strategy: Tips, Tools, and Templates

Not-for-profits and other social sector organizations can find tremendous value –revenue, innovation, volunteers, promotion, direct impact, and more – in partnering with companies. The key to making the pie – and the impact – larger is to consider the myriad types of objectives these partnerships can meet, and thus the myriad number of partnership types out there that may make sense for your organization.

Below we list some of the many types of corporate-not-for-profit relationships out there. Note that many of them tap budgets beyond philanthropy or corporate giving, which is as it should be.

  • Event support and participation
  • Volunteerism
  • Workplace giving
  • Membership
  • Foundation grants
  • Corporate giving
  • Community investment
  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Supplier partnerships
  • Fundraising partnerships
  • Cause marketing
  • Promotional partnerships
  • Sponsorship
  • Social innovation

We are driven to help both not-for-profits and companies drive greater impact – as measured in social and business terms – for their organizations and their constituents. Better corporate/not-for-profit partnerships are possible and plentiful with the right strategies in place. That’s what we do: start with what your organization has and aims to do and then builds a partnership strategy that uniquely connects those assets and goals with prospects’ assets and goals.

We have assembled a number of resources downloadable from this page. We hope you find them useful in developing your own partnerships, starting conversations with colleagues and prospects, and determining how to meet more of your potential for meaningful partnerships that drive benefit to all parties involved.

Happy partnering!

Download tools from Alford’s Corporate Partnership Toolkit below.

Building the Pipeline-Prioritizing and Researching Prospects

This brief discusses the types of prospects that should be at the top of your prospect list and the sources and kinds of information you should research prior to making that first contact.

Corporate Partnership Thought Starters-Categories, Objectives, Benefits and Partnership Elements 

Whether working solo or in a team, it helps to have some parameters to think about in aligning what corporate partners need with what you have to offer. This grid lines up common business categories with their most common objectives. It then aligns common objectives with the benefits and partnership elements that are well-suited to deliver results against those goals.

Partnership Currencies Worksheet

While cash may be king to most not-for-profits (and unrestricted revenue even better), the best partnership platforms put the focus on the best “currencies” each partner can bring to the table to fill each other’s gaps and/or amplify each other’s impact. This sample “Partnership Currencies” worksheet includes many examples of assets and abilities that each partner may bring to the relationship.

We use versions of this worksheet in many of internal conversations, in a number of ways. One of our favorites is to get a group together, inside the not-for-profit organization, and give each person the opportunity to answer “what could we bring to the table?” and “what could they (the prospect) bring to the table?” by selecting the top five of each. Then the fun really begins, as everyone shares their selections and the conversation turns to creative partnership design, answering “what are our most impactful ideas for how to use what we do best and what they do best together?” This simple worksheet can spur on great creativity with your internal teams, including and especially those who do not have direct responsibility for fundraising.

Sample Communications for Existing Corporate Donor Conversations

When we need to change the conversation, sometimes it’s helpful to have a script to fall back on. While this is not meant to be used verbatim, it is provided for inspiration and some sample language to use to talk with current or past corporate donors about expanding into new areas of engagement. In other words, what language can help you get beyond transactional relationships to broader and deeper partnership?

Corporate Social Innovation Flowchart

This diagram provides an overview of the key steps in building innovative partnerships between companies and social sector organizations.

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Relevant blog posts:

Contact Diane Knoepke for more information and to find out how The Alford Group can assist you in building lasting and meaningful relationships through a corporate partnership strategy.