Creating a partnership with a non-profit agency can have a dramatically positive marketing impact if handled correctly. I’ve worked with countless non-profit agencies over the years, and while they they’ll take contributions from businesses all day long, what they really want is something much more valuable.
Ask any business development director at an agency what they really want from business and most will tell you it’s partnership. They value a committed partner over an annual gift because it has the potential to help them in a much more sustained and broader way.
The most fruitful and lasting partnerships I’ve constructed between businesses and agencies were done with a focus on mutual benefit. That’s right, partnering with a not for profit group should be looked at as a path for both parties to benefit or, like any one way relationship, the long term prospects are limited.
There are many great causes out there that deserve your support, so be careful not to jump to conclusions here. I’m not suggesting that there needs to be a direct 1:1 relationship, or that you choose an agency partner based on what you can get in return, but there does need to be a view on a relationship that is sustainable.
Smart agencies realize this and will welcome advances along these lines with open arms.
Some of the most successful partnerships I’ve constructed had the following elements:
Belief and support of the mission
My hope is this one is a given. While there may be non-profit agencies that are more well known, choose your agency because you believe you and your staff can get behind what they are doing far beyond payroll deduction.
Look for agencies that offer lots of opportunity for your staff to get involved in volunteer roles. This can be a tremendous culture builder internally.
Events are often the life-blood of an agencies’ awareness and fund raising efforts, and they’re a lot of work to pull off. Agencies that do lots are high profile events will welcome your firm’s contribution in the area.
Board and committee participation
One of the best ways to develop a deep relationship with an agency is to look for ways to get your staff involved in board and committee roles. You will learn much more about what makes the agency tick and this is quite possibly some of the best networking your staff can do.
At least once per year, create a campaign that allows you to throw your advertising and lead generation efforts in the direction of your agency partner. Run a sales event or contest that directly benefits your non-profit agency. This is a great way to create a contribution, while also creating additional awareness for your partner.
Since the agency’s mission will also benefit from this initiative they can feel good about referring contributors, board members, volunteers and other constituents to your business.
It’s easy to take a cynical view of the idea behind this article, but before you do, consider how much more your company can do by providing the benefits of a full in partner over the benefits of a single contribution.
John Jantsch is a marketing consultant and author of Duct Tape Marketing and The Referral Engine.
Image credit: ragesoss