Corporate Partnerships with Nonprofits – 4 Benefits

Guest blog by Aly Sterling of Aly Sterling Philanthropy

Nonprofits rely on partnerships from a variety of sources, from volunteers to loyal donors. These contributions make a huge difference in how nonprofits can fund and plan events, offer services and make a difference in their communities. But, did you know that corporate partnerships with nonprofits can be built anytime? 

A corporate partnership is a mutually beneficial relationship where the nonprofit and business work together to achieve a shared goal. In this relationship, the business offers goods, resources or skills that are relevant to the nonprofit’s needs. A corporate partnership can help expand reach and access funding, a skilled volunteer base and more. In exchange, the businesses can receive a positive PR boost and grow customer and employee engagement. 

With corporate philanthropy becoming more popular, it’s a great time to start building these relationships. While there is a lot of effort and research involved, it’s well worth it to have a corporate partner on your side. 

In this post, we’ll dive into the ins and outs of corporate partnerships. Then, we’ll explore the benefits of this type of relationship for your nonprofit, including:

  • Increased Revenue and Resources
  • Expanded Volunteer Base
  • Event Support
  • Improved Brand Visibility

A successful corporate partnership can open your nonprofit up to an entirely new audience and expedite your growth.

Two hands shaking in agreement, much like corporate partnerships with nonprofits.

Corporate Partnerships with Nonprofits: Understanding the Basics

A corporate partnership is a fairly broad term that can look different across nonprofits and businesses. However, at its core, this is a collaboration that helps a nonprofit and corporation meet individual and shared goals. Ideally, the nonprofit and corporation should have shared values to maximize the impact of their partnership. 

There are several types of corporate partnerships with nonprofits that may be relevant. Some of the most common are:

  • Sponsorship Programs. Event planning is a critical part of many nonprofits’ operations, but it can be difficult to find room in your budget for food, reserving space, and any other miscellaneous tasks. This is where a corporate sponsorship program can come in handy! In this form of corporate philanthropy, a corporation will cover the costs of your event in exchange for brand promotion.
  • Volunteerism. In this type of corporate partnership, a company’s employees will volunteer their time to support your nonprofit. This can be especially helpful if your nonprofit has a certain need that can be better addressed by an experienced volunteer.

Consider which type of partnership might be most valuable for your nonprofit. The best way to do this is by addressing areas your organization can use additional support, whether it’s with funding, expanding your volunteer base, or somewhere else. You can also propose a relationship that combines several of these partnership types. 

Now that you’ve got the basics down, let’s jump into the benefits of a corporate partnership. 

Increased Revenue and Resources

A corporate partner can help increase your nonprofit’s funding, helping you better serve your community. This can be done in a variety of ways, such as the workplace giving programs discussed earlier. Through setting up a matching gifts tool or payroll deductions, employees will feel incentivized to give and eager to support your organization.

Plus, these employees can turn into loyal donors, boosting your donor retention. A greater donor retention rate will give your nonprofit a reliable revenue stream. This can be used to fund your programs, services or any miscellaneous costs that come up. 

In-Kind Support

In addition to financial support, a corporate partnership with nonprofits can supply needed resources, such as in-kind donations. In-kind donations can be items specific to your nonprofit’s mission (i.e. a hunger relief nonprofit that collects canned foods) or items that will help your nonprofit’s day-to-day operations. For example, if your nonprofit is in need of an office space, a corporate partner could donate unused space. 

Expanded Volunteer Base

If your nonprofit needs volunteers (or volunteers with precise skills), a partner with a corporate volunteering program can be a huge asset. 

According to Aly Sterling Philanthropy, corporate volunteering is “a form of business-led volunteer work that engages employees and seeks to improve local communities.” You can enlist employee support to help with events, daily operations, or specific services. Plus, employees with special skills can support your nonprofit, such as those with legal, design, or accounting background. 

Another effective way a corporation can encourage volunteering with your nonprofit is through volunteer grants. With this corporate philanthropy program, companies will donate a predetermined amount per hour that an employee volunteers. Your nonprofit gets double benefits—more volunteer support and more revenue! Plus, volunteers will be more likely to support your organization for the long run since they can make a powerful, fulfilling impact. 

How Corporate Partnerships with Nonprofits Benefit Employees

But this isn’t just beneficial for your nonprofit! Corporate partnerships with nonprofits benefit employees with many reporting a higher degree of satisfaction—after all, the opportunity to put more social good in the world (and do it with workplace peers!) puts anyone in a good mood. And, employees can get to know one another outside the workplace, helping them form strong peer relationships that can convert to greater productivity and cohesion in the office. 

Event Support

Corporate-sponsored events streamline the planning process on your end and can help you put on bigger events outside your budget. This type of sponsorship can take many forms, such as:

  • In-kind donations. Your corporate partner can give your organization needed supplies that will help your event run smoothly. For example, let’s say you partner with a restaurant for an event. The restaurant can supply catering free of charge, saving your nonprofit funds that can then be used towards other event necessities. A company’s employees can also donate items if you’re hosting an auction or sales-based event. 
  • Direct donations. A corporate sponsor can directly fund your entire event, meaning your only job would be setting it up and running it! In this form of support, nonprofits typically exchange marketing services to help promote the corporation’s brand. For example, your nonprofit might hand out branded merchandise from the company or pass out business cards. 
  • Marketing. A corporate sponsor can fund the marketing costs to help as many people as possible learn about your event. This could include TV ads, event landing page design and printed advertisements. 

When pitching the opportunity to support your event to a corporate sponsor, make sure to articulate the benefits they will gain. In addition to marketing opportunities, corporate partnerships with nonprofits may also include tax deductions and a positive boost to their reputation. 

Improved Brand Visibility 

One of the greatest benefits of working with a corporate partner is the opportunity to get your nonprofit’s name out. By collaborating with a partner, your nonprofit’s brand will now become familiar to all of the company’s employees, which can be hundreds or even thousands of prospective donors and volunteers. 

Plus, the corporation might feature your nonprofit in their marketing materials, such as their website or advertisements. For the corporation, this association with your nonprofit portrays them as a socially responsible brand. For your nonprofit, this can help you reach your corporate partner’s clients. As a result, you’ll see an increase in revenue and support, helping your nonprofit better serve its community.

Because your nonprofit will be closely associated with the corporate partner, make sure to choose a company that aligns with your values. If your corporate partner is poorly received by the public, your nonprofit’s reception could suffer. Do thorough research when considering a partner to avoid any public relations issues and keep your nonprofit in good standing. 

Pulling It All Together

Corporate partnerships with nonprofits can have a huge impact on your operations. Since there are many forms of corporate sponsorships, consider which one will best help your nonprofit reach its goals. 

Once you know the type of support you need, begin looking into corporate partners. You’ll need to develop a strong pitch that highlights your nonprofit’s mission, what you’re looking for in a partnership and what you can offer the corporation. The best corporate partnerships are mutually beneficial, so make it clear why the corporation should partner with you. 

Once you’ve chosen the right partner, you’ll see benefits like increased revenue and volunteer support. Plus, with increased exposure, your nonprofit will see an increase in donations, boosting your fundraising strategy efforts. All of these benefits will get your nonprofit in better shape to meet its mission, so it’s a great idea to work with a corporate partner. Good luck! 

Long before Aly Sterling founded her eponymous consulting firm, she was solving the unique yet similar problems encountered by nonprofit organizations.

Her decision to start her own business in 2007 was driven by her belief in leadership as the single most important factor in organizational success, and her determination to work with multiple causes at one time to scale societal change.

Aly’s expertise includes fundraising, strategic planning, search consultation and board leadership development for the well-positioned nonprofit. She is regularly sought for comment by trade and mainstream media, including the Chronicle of Philanthropy and U.S. News & World Report. She has contributed to publications of BoardSource and The Governance Institute, as well as the Toledo Chamber of Commerce and The Giving Institute.

Photo Stephanie Page
Stephanie Page
Head of Outreach

No guilt trips, no sad stories. Just a chance to do something good.