Better Together: How to Make the Biggest Impact Through Nonprofit and For-Profit Partnerships

No matter what cause, industry or issue a nonprofit focuses on, the goal remains the same: make the biggest impact possible.
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No matter what cause, industry or issue a nonprofit focuses on, the goal remains the same: make the biggest impact possible.

While the nonprofit community is already making a huge difference with the $358.38 billion in charitable giving driving their activities, there's always a need to be met and always more that can be done. So it's no surprise that corporate social responsibility (CSR) is on the rise with for-profits. Businesses are realizing the value in incorporating social good into their company mission, both for the community and for the bottom line. As a result, partnerships between nonprofit and for-profit organizations are a no-brainer. Both stand something to gain by working together to enact change.

Nonprofits obtain exposure to a new audience and additional dollars for their causes, while their for-profit partners gain credibility and community trust. A great example of this is Vitamin Angels' partnership with Walgreens. Since the two organizations joined forces, more than $5.5 million has been raised for the charity and both organizations saw such great results they are counting the partnership into at least 2017. Combining efforts and striving toward the same outcome better amplifies the intended social good.

While nonprofit and for-profit partnerships are beneficial to both parties, it takes an ongoing strategic commitment to make them work. Keep reading for tips to forge a successful partnership and drive the greatest impact.

Find the right partner
This is arguably the most important step. If the collaboration doesn't make sense for one or both participants, you'll find it much more difficult to reach your goals, maintain trust and remain authentic. Keep your goals at the forefront of your mind when considering potential partners. Envision the change you want to see in the world, then, find an organization that shares your dream. Your goals don't have to align exactly, but your core missions should harmonize.

Nurture the relationship
Once you find the right partner, the real work begins. Building and maintaining a strong relationship is necessary for better collaboration between nonprofit and for-profit teams. Start by identifying how you each prefer to connect, whether it's via email, phone or (preferably) in-person meetings. Then, schedule regular check-ins to have an open and on-going dialogue on goals, potential opportunities and upcoming initiatives.

An important tip: Don't walk into every meeting asking your partner what they can do for you. Take time to offer up your own resources and show genuine interest in helping them achieve success. Building a real connection, rather than a one-sided relationship, is vital in any partnership's well being.

Be ready to compromise
In nonprofit and for-profit partnerships, there will come a time when the two sides aren't on the same page. Maybe your short-term goals are different, or the timing isn't ideal, but as with any relationship, compromise and flexibility are key.

Stay focused on your overall mission, but remain open to new ideas. Even though it may not be the exact plan you had in mind, through honest communication you should be able to identify a course of action that is beneficial for both sides. You never know what innovative and impactful opportunities could arise by blending a nonprofit and for-profit approach.

Maintaining a nonprofit and for-profit partnership may not be easy and you'll face challenges along the way. But by following the tips above and staying focused on our overall missions, we can do more for our communities than we ever thought possible - together.

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