Have Your Cake and Share it Too

How can corporate/nonprofit relationships be mutually beneficial?

Have your cake and share it too; Image from httpbestfriendsforfrosting.com/2012/12/christmas-dessert-table-all-wrapped-up/img_6063/#lightbox/0/Relationships between corporations and nonprofits can drive important outcomes for all parties, including employees, customers, and beneficiaries. The approach to any partnership, however, can dictate its success or lack thereof. The context for your relationship can range from a hands-off, in-name-only agreement to what we’re calling a “Corporate Social Compact,” one which maximizes the results of your work together.

The good news is that many companies and nonprofits have found ways to build partnerships that matter to both partners. The bad news is that many more companies are still receiving off-the-mark asks from non-profits who can’t narrow in on a real problem they can solve for their corporate prospects. And many highly qualified nonprofits are sitting on inactivated solutions that would be well-suited to solving company business problems.

So here’s the thing. When a company is very clear on what and why it is investing, and a nonprofit is very clear on what and why it is accomplishing, then (and only then) do we see the potential to create a corporate social compact. That potential is realized when the pair can find each other and communicate in a way that builds an understanding of individual and combined goals.

When you do the work to create a corporate social compact, you can have your cake and share it too.

Companies are able to focus on goals that matter to the C-suite, while they still provide needed support to the nonprofit organizations driving social change in areas that may go beyond business priorities. Similarly, the nonprofit partners are able to continue to drive their missions forward, while they also create new or expanded benefit for their partners.

What are the key ingredients in developing a corporate social compact?

The corporate partner is:The nonprofit partner is:
  • Clear on the type(s) of value it aims to drive through its investment and for whom
  • Aligned internally about what and how it will provide benefit to its own and its partner’s constituents
  • Interested in both the business and social impact created by its support
  • Knowledgeable about the corporate partner’s business and what drives value
  • Ready to engage in finding middle ground for areas of potential conflict or competing priorities within the partnership
  • Ready to engage in finding middle ground for areas of potential conflict or competing priorities within the partnership
  • Equipped to support data-driven decision-making and planning
  • Creative and equipped to go beyond gratitude and acknowledgement to build customized partnership platforms