By Emily Bruce, Senior Associate.
Local corporate partnerships are often part of the funding mix for many nonprofits, though typically a small proportion (only 5% of overall philanthropic giving, according to Giving USA.) Developing a win-win partnership that aligns your mission with the philanthropic priorities of a local corporation has benefits for both parties.
How do you build a relationship with a company? Begin building relationships within a local company by getting to know its people.
1. Employee Volunteerism. Local companies invest where their employees are investing their time. Many corporations provide paid hours for their employees to volunteer, and even better, several also provide matching gifts for every hour an employee volunteers. Recent trends also reflect companies’ willingness to provide grants or reimburse nonprofits for the expenses they incur for hosting volunteers.
2. Community Affairs/Corporate Social Responsibility. Many corporations invest in staff to oversee their community engagement efforts. You’ll meet these contacts at Chamber events and networking functions, and they are frequently panelists and presenters at nonprofit conferences. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself and your organization; it’s their job to understand the landscape of the community and find opportunities to connect! And even if their company’s philanthropic interests don’t align with your mission, they may be willing to introduce you to a colleague in another company who has shared values.
3. Leadership. Board members, volunteers and current supporters of your organization can help open the doors to leaders in the companies in your community. Engage these leaders in your programming, tour them through your sites and ask for their advice on partnering in the future.
Once you get to know the people and culture of a company, you will be better equipped to pursue a funding partnership that reflects a shared commitment to your mission. In the Triangle, there are numerous examples of what this looks like.
Current moss+ross client Kramden Institute in Durham engages local corporate volunteers in Geek-a-Thons, where the volunteers help refurbish computers and play a direct role in donating the “new” computers to local kids who need them. Kramden created a model of bringing their volunteer opportunities to local offices, allowing for ease of engagement while also providing a meaningful experience for all who participate. From these partnerships, Kramden receives generous gifts from the host companies and has developed a growing stream of contributed revenue to support educational programming.