The idea of partnering with a nonprofit organization in your community may initially seem daunting – especially if you are a smaller business – but the marketing potential for your company and the potential for the nonprofit organization to grow far outweigh the work marketing strategy requires.

What Is Partnership Marketing?

To begin, let’s first look at what exactly partnership marketing is. Partnership marketing is when two organizations collaborate to create a marketing campaign or strategy that is mutually beneficial. This could include a one-time event, a campaign or a long-term partnership to raise awareness for a cause.

In this blog article, we discuss why partnering specifically with a nonprofit organization may be beneficial both for your company’s marketing strategy and the nonprofit you choose to partner with.

A Brief History Of Partnership Marketing

How did partnership marketing get to where it is today? Let’s take a brief look at the history of partnerships. Mutually beneficial collaboration dates back to the dawn of time. When two parties come together to achieve a similar goal using their combined resources and skills, the results are greater than if they were to work alone.

When the internet gained popularity in the 1990s and social media debuted in the early 2000s, it changed how businesses interact with and distribute goods and services to consumers. This access to information and direct communication with consumers completely changed the marketing world. According to CIPD, this is the time period that gave way to the modern idea of partnerships. They explain, “Ideally, Business partnering is about defining and aligning people function capabilities in order to meet the [organization’s] objectives.”

5 Benefits To Partnering With A Nonprofit Organization

Now that we know what a marketing partnership is, what are five business benefits of partnering with a nonprofit organization?

1. Expands Your Audience And Encourage Customer Loyalty

Business partners with a nonprofit organization.

Partnering with a nonprofit can double your audience at a low cost!

If you work in marketing, you know how important it is to nail down your audience and create messaging specifically for them. Creating content designed for your audience builds brand loyalty and ensures they return to your business. You are 60-70% more likely to sell to an existing customer, compared to the 5-20% likelihood of selling your product or service to a new client. 

If you work in marketing, you know how important it is to nail down your audience and create messaging specifically for them. Creating content designed for your audience builds brand loyalty and ensures they return to your business. You are 60-70% more likely to sell to an existing customer, compared to the 5-20% likelihood of selling your product or service to a new client.

When you partner with a nonprofit organization, you increase your reach to include your partner’s loyal audience as well. Unless the nonprofit is a new venture, they will already have an audience who cares about their mission.

In addition to gaining a new audience from the nonprofit organization, this partnership will also strengthen the trust of the relationship you already have with your current audience and customers.

Your audience and customers want to know who you are as a company. Are you a company that cares about causes, or one that stays silent? Seeing that your business cares about an issue amplifies who you are and in turn makes for strong customer relationships.

2. Solidifies Your Brand Identity

Brand Branding Design Marketing Drawing Concept - Stock Image

Partnering with a nonprofit will help solidify your brand.

Branding is the baseline for all things marketing and public relations. If your audience isn’t sure what your brand is, it is highly unlikely they will choose to support it. There is so much competition nowadays that people can pick and choose what they want to purchase and who they support based on how they feel about the brand as a whole.

As Hubspot explains, “A product is never just a product, right? Companies who create strong brands know that their brand needs to live everywhere. They know their names extend far beyond the label.”

Hubspot goes on to say, “Branding can be the deciding factor for consumers when they make a purchase decision. In a global Nielson survey, almost 60% of shoppers said they actively buy from brands they know, and 21% said they bought a product because they liked the brand.”

It is not enough anymore to have an amazing product or service. Consumers are faced with hundreds of products in each category, and they are going to choose the brand they are passionate about that aligns with their values.

Partnering with a nonprofit organization in your community shows your audience that your brand is more than the products or services you offer. Supporting a cause that matters to you will strengthen and solidify your brand.

3. Expands Your Team Without Breaking The Bank

When you partner with another business you essentially double your team members! More brainpower is almost always better, and the campaign ideas from both teams will  lead to great marketing and business ventures that would be extremely expensive if not for the partnership.

4. Creates Positive Long-Term Marketing Relationships

Relationships are everything in marketing. Creating positive relationships with clients, customers and other organizations builds trust and respect and establishes yourself as a leader in your industry.

Networking is simple; people choose to work with people they like. When you partner with a nonprofit, one of your goals should be cultivating a positive, long-lasting relationship with the people at the nonprofit. As we mentioned earlier, you also will have the opportunity to foster positive, long-term relationships with the members of the nonprofit organization’s community as well.

5. Raises Money For A Nonprofit Organization

When you partner with a nonprofit, it is likely that the partnership will include raising money for their cause by selling a product or service.

Choose a nonprofit your company cares about. Working together will not only help your organization for all the reasons we’ve mentioned above, but it will also help bring attention to the nonprofit. Partnership marketing is a two-way street. With hard work and support from both organizations, you both will reap the benefits.

How To Find The Right Nonprofit Partner

Group of Diverse Multiethnic People Teamwork Concept

Finding the right nonprofit is very important when joining together for a campaign.

Finding the right partner is critical to a successful partnership marketing campaign with a nonprofit organization.

But how do you find the right partner? Here are some areas to consider when searching for a nonprofit to partner with.

1. Aligned Values

To have a successful partnership with a nonprofit organization, you must align on values. As we mentioned earlier, consumers are only going to support brands that align with their values. If you are partnering with a nonprofit organization that has different values than you it will confuse your audience and most likely lead to losing supporters.

2. A Cause That Makes Sense For Your Company

The nonprofit you choose to partner with needs to make sense, or your audience will see right through it. They may think you are just partnering with them to seem like you care about the cause. You will see an example below of what can happen when your cause doesn’t fit with your partner’s organization.

3. Mutually Benefits

Both your business and the nonprofit organization should be getting something out of the partnership or it will not be successful.

An Example Of A Partnership That Works: Lush

Let’s look at a corporate and nonprofit partnership that has worked in the past.

Lush is a bath, body, skin and hair care company devoted to creating fresh, ethically-sourced, cruelty-free, vegetarian, handmade, low-waste and effective products.

In 2007, Lush launched their “Charity Pots” initiative. The idea was that if you bought a “Charity Pot” (a body lotion) 100% of the price, minus taxes, went to supporting one of many small grassroots organizations that Lush partnered with. Since launching in 2007, they have donated over $50 million to over 2,800 small grassroots projects and organizations in eight countries. Meet some of their partners with this link. Along with the charity pots, Lush also launches ethical campaigns to give a voice to causes that are important to them.

This partnership Lush has with grassroots organizations is incredibly successful. The partnerships make sense. Lush has long been a company that is more than just a body-care brand. They make it clear in their mission statement and with their actions. They are a sustainable company, use ethical packaging, ethically source their products, and much more. Lush uses their platform to raise money and awareness for many causes and in return creates a great marketing platform for themselves. Customers are much more likely to shop at Lush knowing that the money goes directly to causes they care about.

On the other side, however, a partnership that wasn’t successful was when KFC tried partnering with a breast cancer awareness group by pledging to donate 50 cents per bucket of fried chicken to Susan G. Komen For the Cure. While KFC may have had the best intentions for this campaign, it was clearly not a good fit as the two organizations’ missions did not line up. KFC’s food is typically fattening, which can sometimes predispose people to certain types of cancer. Selling this food to support cancer awareness seemed forced and unthoughtful.

Final Things To Keep In Mind During Your Partnership

Now that you know more about partnership marketing and its history, why partnering with a nonprofit could help your marketing efforts and some examples for your campaign, here are a few last tips to keep in mind when you begin your partnership efforts:

  1. Be Genuine: Being genuine is always important when marketing your organization. Consumers can see right through any insincerity. A huge reason the KFC campaign was not successful is the partnership did not seem genuine. Make sure you partner with an organization that aligns with your business.
  2. Make The Most Of The Partnership: Partnering with a nonprofit organization is a great way to double both organizations’ resources, so make use of this throughout the campaign. Bounce ideas off each other, work together and learn from each other.

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