I was invited to speak to a group of people that I am so incredibly fond of. I got a chance to talk with LGBT chamber of commerce leaders in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It was an absolute pleasure as I know and respect so many of them.
I was invited to talk about effective ways to improve corporate relationships. As I was mulling over the tips I would share with them I decided to bullet point them and phrase them so anyone, regardless of business/non-profit, could utilize the tips. The following 5 tips are geared towards non-profit organizations building stronger relationships with their corporate sponsors.
I’ve had the pleasure of working with at least a half dozen or so non-profits on this very topic. I worked with one organization in Boston who had a great mission and vision but their corporate sponsor benefits were unclear and they were having a tough time getting corporate buy-in. After a little bit of restructuring and stressing the importance of the 5 tips below they were able to turn things around for the better.
So without further ado here are the 5 tips and a quick explanation of each.
Get creative. For example, if you are part of a non-profit that provides job placement in your local economy and you rely on the philanthropy of corporate sponsors or donors, find a way to be a resource to them. If job placement is your thing, your organization probably has loads of information that you could share regarding job training and placement. The corporation donating to your cause might need some of that advice for their employees or staff. Or maybe they won’t. But offer yourself and your organization as a resource to them, you never know when they may need you.
Are your corporate sponsor levels rigid and you find yourself unwilling to bend on them? You may want to reconsider that approach. Different corporations are looking for different benefits and value from you. They have different business goals and objectives. You may have a corporate partner who provides home and auto insurance. Their objective with their relationship with you is likely going to be increasing the amount of policies sold. If you have a relationship with a retail giant then their goals are going to be driving people into their establishments. The approach you would take to get people into a retail location to shop versus purchasing home and auto insurance are very different from one another. So be conscious of that fact and develop your corporate partnerships around it. Of course you should have a base level of benefits that each partner is offered but make them moldable around specific needs or areas of interest.
This is often something that is overlooked. Add additional value to your existing relationships just because you can. When a corporation signs on as a sponsor of your organization they receive X benefits. If for some reason in 3 months you create something new that you can associate their name with, do it. Don’t go to them and ask them for additional money for this particular project, include them in because you value the relationship. It will pay off in spades.
In order to maintain solid relationships with any corporate partner make sure you have multiple relationships within the organization. Include a lot of people at the table to talk about ways the relationship will benefit one another. Too often a non-profit will establish a great connection with a senior person with a company and then that person leaves. When you loose all ties to that company it becomes very difficult to keep that relationship going. So make friends with everyone interested in the relationship from line workers all the way to the C-suite.
Provide a recap of their relationship with you on an annual basis. Summarize what their benefits entailed, where they were seen and how your relationship has helped impact their business goals and objectives. By providing them with a recap of what you’ve done it makes it easier for them to keep the relationship going. Remember that your point of contact within a company likely has to ‘sell’ you up the food chain to someone above them. The easier you make it for them, the better off it’ll be for the longevity of your relationship.
I hope you enjoyed these tips and have found value in them. Working with non-profits around restructuring corporate partner relationships is something I am very passionate about. If you find yourself in a rut and need help, I am available for one-on-one coaching/consulting. You can see my Rent-a-Jenn page for more information.
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