It is no secret that partnering your company with a nonprofit (when done carefully) can hugely benefit your community, employee engagement, brand reputation, and—last but absolutely not least—a charitable cause. Creating a thorough plan before committing to an organization will protect you and your company from the pitfalls of collabs-gone-bad. Here are a few points to consider for a positive experience in nonprofit sponsorship.
Can You Help?
Before you even reach out to a nonprofit, you need to take a serious look at your company’s financials and capabilities. If you own a startup that still has a chunk of debt left over from launch, you may need to hold off a bit longer. As good as your intentions may be, committing your resources to a charity while your business is not yet in the black may not be such a good idea.
In addition to being financially solvent, make sure your company is able to donate the time and energy needed to properly help an organization. If you feel that your business is in a stable position, and there is now free time to tackle other projects, finding a nonprofit to promote is a great option. If you feel like your business is constantly running out of time and putting out fires, now may not be the best time to start your charitable giving.
Vet Their Values
Now that you have established your ability to take on a nonprofit sponsorship, you can advance to the fun part: choosing your charity. When a partnership works well, it will benefit both the company and the organization. Actively supporting a good cause will garner fantastic PR while current and potential customers will see your philanthropy as a motivator to become evangelists for your business.
However, the opposite applies if the nonprofit you partner with does something contradictory to your target audiences’ beliefs. There have been many instances of PR backfire due to charity support in recent years, and it can take quite a toll on your brand’s reputation and sales. To diminish the risk of getting caught up in a PR nightmare, research potential candidates thoroughly and be completely confident that their values align with both your company and your clients’ principles before reaching out.
What Do They Need?
Once you have picked out your top choice charity, it is time to get down to business. The most obvious contribution you can make to a nonprofit is monetary, but that is not always an organization’s greatest need. Nonprofits usually require guidance in business matters and budgeting. Oftentimes, they operate with an “activism now, business strategy later” mentality, so your experience may help your partner considerably in this area. Most importantly, you need to lessen your assumptions on what your charity will benefit from and listen instead. Partnership with a worthy organization is an opportunity to grow and give back. Allow the nonprofit to ask for what they actually need, and help enact the change you wish to create.