Think of the last nonprofit cause or event you supported. Chances are there was some sort of corporate sponsor, which played a big role in helping move the cause forward or make the event a success.
“Businesses and nonprofits both have a critical role to play in making Arizona a place we are all proud to call home,” says Kristen Merrifield, CEO of the Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits. “Nonprofits also have a huge impact on our local economy, especially in relation to revenue generation and employment.”
Because of that, it only makes sense that nonprofits and businesses would partner together to better serve the communities they impact, Merrifield says.
There are many reasons for companies and business leaders to give back to the community. You’d be hard-pressed to find a business or an individual that is unwilling to help out any kind of philanthropic cause.
But it can be difficult to find the right group to support. How do you know where your skill set will be best utilized if you want to volunteer your time? And how do you know which nonprofit best aligns with the culture and values of your company? For businesses, partnering with nonprofits can be a balancing act.
Interest from employees, being able to properly help a nonprofit and the nonprofit’s mission are just a few things one must consider before finding that right partnership between a business and a nonprofit.
Finding a fit
So, what exactly goes into finding a match in nonprofit heaven?
Michael Seaver, an executive coach and leadership consultant who helps businesses find nonprofits with which to partner, believes in basing a firm’s nonprofit work with its own strategic objectives.
When finding a nonprofit match, Seaver’s goal is to create a deep level of cultural connection between the nonprofit and the business.
This translates to both the business and the nonprofit trying to accomplish the same things in the community, Seaver says.
“If there is a connection between the organization’s mission and the nonprofit’s mission that’s high or closely correlated, then there will be a strong synergy between them as well,” he says.
Maybe the nonprofit needs a new website and your firm happens to have a web developer who can provide pro bono services. That makes a good fit. Or if your business works with the military, then veterans groups may be a great type of nonprofit with which to work.
Finding these types of matches can help foster success.
Finding a match
But how do you find out if there’s a mission and value match?
It’s simple. Personally asking what a nonprofit’s mission is and how it hopes to accomplish those goals goes a long way when finding out whether or not a business should partner with a nonprofit, Merrifield says.
Finding a value match and seeing what skills or resources a nonprofit may need are important too, she adds.
“From the get-go, this lets you find out if there’s a match,” Merrifield says. “That way, you know your business can help the nonprofit”
Also, you find out straight from the nonprofit what its mission is, which helps inform you whether or not your partnership with them would be a sure success.
Look to yourself and your employees
One way to find that perfect partnership between your business and a nonprofit is by finding out what makes you and your employees passionate.
What cause are you or your employees closely tied to?
Denise Gredler, founder and CEO of BestCompaniesAZ, makes sure her employees know that if there are any nonprofit groups they want the company to support in some way, they should let her know.
One employee at BestCompaniesAZ has a daughter with Down Syndrome, so the firm partners with Ruby’s Rainbow, an organization that grants scholarships to adults with Down Syndrome for post-secondary education.
Gredler’s son has Celiac Disease, so BestCompaniesAZ supports the Celiac Disease Center to help raise awareness about the disease.
“It’s a commonality that people will serve on boards with which they either know someone or were personally effected by the cause for which the nonprofit is an advocate,” Gredler says.
Many business owners and firms follow this course.
Melissa Fink, owner of boutique shop Girly Girlz, experienced a family tragedy, which spurred her work with Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
In 2004, Fink’s sister was killed by a drunk driver and since then Fink has been one of the top fundraisers for MADD’s annual event in Phoenix, Walk Like MADD.
“By supporting MADD’s campaign to eliminate drunk driving I know my dollars will be used to make the streets safer for everyone,” Fink says.
That personal connection
Celeste Edmunds, head of public relations at personal financial services firm Progrexion, has a personal connection
with her firm’s philanthropic efforts.
As a child, Edmunds was in the foster care system and now helps Progrexion’s philanthropic efforts, which are geared towards helping many of the same services she utilized growing up.
Edmunds says she has a passion on the personal side to help those types of groups with which her firm is aligned.
When creating relationships between a business and a nonprofit, Edmunds says it’s important to tap into the employees’ motivating factors to ensure a successful partnership.
What’s a good motivator? A cause an employee or co-worker is connected to in some personal way.
“There’s an alignment that has to happen around what you want to be focused on as a company in your social responsibility efforts,” she says. “And you have to figure out how to align the employees and how they want to give. Once you can marry those two, then I think you have a win.” ν