Many businesses choose to use their brand and reach to positively impact their community. One way they do this is by forming partnerships with local nonprofits. Partnering with organizations that have a cause in alignment with your values or brand can benefit both the organization AND your business. A 2018 study found that over 50% of Americans report that they would switch to a company that supports a cause they believe in. The adage “vote with your dollar” rings true: consumers want to know that their money and support are going to businesses with whom their values are aligned.
When you’re a new business, it might seem counterintuitive to partner with a charity or non-profit. You’re probably focused on growing your margins and building your brand. Despite these concerns, there are some clear benefits to partnering with a charitable organization, beyond supporting a good cause.
Why partner with a nonprofit?
By partnering with a nonprofit or charity, you can promote both your business and the partner organization. You can make the most of this link by publicizing on social media and your websites, putting up flyers, and asking the partner to publicize your charitable giving. Your name will become more recognizable, and will be associated with doing good.
With brand recognition and partnerships come greater opportunities for networking. By expanding your bandwidth to include a nonprofit’s pre-existing community of supporters, you open the door for new clients. This provides an easy and cost effective way for small businesses to get their name out there.
Picking a partner
Picking the right charity or non-profit to partner with is important. While most people have heard of the Red Cross or Salvation Army, they might not be the best choices. Partnering with a charity whose supporters include your customers is better than simply choosing the largest charity in town. Think of your target audience, and what issues matter to them. If your brand focuses on environmentally friendly products, you might consider hosting a local park clean up, or partnering with an organization that plants trees. Beware of trying to be too many things at once, as appealing to every passing trend can result in a brand with unclear values. If your partnerships don’t make sense, you can become a poorly defined brand who’s partnership confuses the consumer.
How to partner
There are some simple ways to partner with a nonprofit organization. You can donate a percentage of profits, offer customers the option to donate with each sale, sell products in your storefront, or sponsor the organization in an event. Brainstorm ways you can benefit your community and the organization and what services you have to offer, and then reach out to the organization to collaborate.
There are some things to pay attention to when considering partnerships and charitable giving. It pays to be honest about your business and its limitations. Don’t pledge to give 5% of net sales if you’re struggling to pay your bills. However, if you are aware of your limits, you can use that knowledge to your advantage. For example, if you are struggling to generate engagement on social media, partnering with an organization that has a social media marketing presence might boost your exposure.
Transparency is key
Finally, transparency is critical when it comes to charitable partnerships. Be as clear as possible with customers about how their purchases will benefit a charity. Always do your best not to make commitments you cannot keep. If you make smart, conscientious choices about partnering with community organizations and charities, the benefits will deliver for both you and your nonprofit partner.