5 Steps to Winning Corporate Partners

Many non-profit organisations struggle to form long lasting corporate partnerships despite growing interest from businesses to be actively involved with their communities. Too often well-meaning non-profits approach time poor companies with only their cause in mind, rather than showing how a partnership will be of benefit to the corporation. Thanks to Resonate’s most recent event, ‘What Corporates Wish Non-Profits Knew, a panel of 5 company leaders explain how to attract and retain successful corporate partners.

The expert panel members included Director of the investment advisory firm, Purposeful Capital, Monica Bradley, Co-founder of Social Scaffolding, Lisa Siganto, Community Engagement Manager of Aurizon, Sharon Tang, Partner of McCullough Robertson, Heather Watson and Transactional Senior Business Development Manager at Westpac, Danielle Hossack.

Below we reveal their top tips in 5 key steps!

Do your Homework

Do you understand what makes the company tick? In other words, do you know what makes their product or service unique and who their ideal customer is? This information can be obtained from the company’s mission statements, annual report and website “About Us” page. Prior to making first contact, make sure you are in tune with the company objectives and are clear about how your partnership can benefit their business. Alignment of values is particularly critical as most companies have strict limitations around how and where their corporate giving can be channelled.

Moreover, research the key decision makers in the organisation. Before you contact the relevant staff member, you should know their role within the organisation and the objectives of their particular role. There is no use convincing someone who does not have the position of authority to make the partnership happen and you do not want to waste valuable time in a meeting covering the basics of getting to know them.

Finally, have your own company records in order. The company you approach will want to know all about you so freshen up your annual reports and make sure you are clear about your mission, vision, values, who your management team are and your track record of achieving strategic outcomes.

Be Specific

Develop a pitch based on a specific ask. The more specific you are about what you want and what you are able to achieve with a successful partnership the easier it is for a company to help you.

As mentioned above, companies have specific requirements that determine the focus of their giving and so target the ask to these goals. Companies are often looking for alignment according to:

  1. Their strategic business assets and strengths

  2. The geographic region of their company footprint

  3. Current involvement in the community by their staff or clients

  4. Company values such as Indigenous affairs, the environment, health or education etc.

Make that crucial first contact

Once you know who the key decision makers are and have developed a pitch, it is time to make contact with them. It is more effective to make this initial contact in person by attending networking events. If not, the expert panel recommends a cleverly woven email pitch as opposed to a cold phone call. Particularly in large companies, receptionists and other staff may be required to screen out sales calls for their busy managers.

Talk Investment

Now that you have caught their interest after the initial contact, the door to further discussion and negotiations will open. This is where your homework once again pays off. Demonstrating your knowledge of the business creates more confidence in the company that the partnership will be one of mutual benefit rather than a one sided ask. Relate your proposal to the company strategy using investment talk especially return on investment measurements and the creation of shared value.

It is important to be flexible in negotiations and understand that corporates do not always have the funds you’re looking for, but services can be a valuable alternative. Organisational mentoring and high-skilled volunteering are also non-monetary options that can often be more valuable than funding by providing the expertise charitable organisations need to be successful. Such multi-layered giving can yield fruitful long term relationships between companies and NFPs.

Keep in Touch

Many organisations prefer long-term Corporate Social Responsibility involvement and creating a relationship based on more than singular donations or grants is key. Multi-levelled giving through engagement of company staff and non-financial resources help foster these ties is. In return, keep corporations updated on a project’s progress through regular communications and feed back valuable data to the company stakeholders. In fact, nimble and innovative non-profits often have a lot to offer corporations through effective use of social media and other impact story telling media effectively creating a shared-story which is of value to the organisation, their staff and clients.

Individually we do not have singular answers to many of the pressing social, cultural and environmental issues, but collectively, through powerful partnerships we can build and sustain great programs to address these issues.

‘What Corporates Wish Non-Profits Knew’ was held on 29th of October with the support of co-hosts Community Service Industry Alliance, Social Scaffolding and McCullough Robertson who generously provided the venue and catering. The event was a wonderful opportunity for Non-Profits to learn how to pitch to corporations they wish to partner with.

With more than 400 member organisations across Australia, Resonate works with corporate clients to arrange impactful volunteer opportunities for teams of staff.