Community Partnerships

The right non-profit-business partnership can make all the difference to the functions of your foundations right through from your fundraising efforts, profile within the community and even giving you new committee members. Each community is unique and therefore needs a unique partnership model. There are many models to choose from, you may find one or two work for you or even a mix of four or five but having the right one is crucial to the success of the partnership. 

On this page, we will explore different types of partnerships, what you and the business can offer each other, give you some tools to approach businesses and show you how some of our local foundations are doing partnerships successfully. 

Types of Partnerships

Non-Profit & For-Profit Partnership Benefits

Local business asks “What’s In it For Me”?   Small community group “……..???”

Believe it or not, there is a lot your non-profit can offer a business, even if you’re only small. One of the most common obstacles community groups and small non-profits face when approaching a business to partner with is plain old confidence.

Building a relationship with a for-profit business can be mutually beneficial in ways you may not anticipate. Here we share some of the benefits of these types of partnerships which will give you a head start to showing the business ‘What’s In it For Them’.

  • Sales – studies show consumers want socially responsible businesses and will actually choose these companies over their competitors. By teaming up with a nonprofit, a business can sell more products, engage more of those elusive customers, and be more competitive in a flooded market.
  • Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) – because consumers are demanding more transparent and responsible products and services, more and more businesses are creating CSR policies. This means a nonprofit could actually help a business become more profitable and attractive to consumers through partnership. This is particularly relevant within local communities where a difference is being made locally.
  • Employee Satisfaction – Volunteering and giving back in the workplace can actually improve feelings of engagement and loyalty. This, in turn, decreases turnover, increases productivity, and builds company culture. Also, Millennials are highly motivated to give which makes a nonprofit partnership a great way to attract these skilled workers. This is highly valuable information you can use when approaching businesses to partner with!
  • Marketing – a business and a nonprofit will most likely see a boost in brand recognition and overall visibility—and hopefully may might not even have to pay for it! Consumers want to see businesses supporting social causes, therefore it’s possible that a partnership could lead to media attention, social media engagement, and a greater “word of mouth” reputation. This recognition can help attract new customers for the business and increase donations and engagement for the nonprofit.
  • Execution –  smaller nonprofits offer a “foot in the door” that many larger charities do not  provide; businesses often have to jump through a lot of hoops—or donate a lot of money—to get into partnerships with the big guys (e.g., Fred Hollows, Save the Children etc.). With a smaller, more flexible nonprofit, businesses are able to kickstart the partnership with much easier— and they can make a difference immediately.

Read more info here about What Sponsors Want

Choosing the right partner

Large state, national businesses generally have plenty of money, staff and resources so while it may seem logical to approach them with a partnership proposal can be a recipe for disappointment and frustration.

It’s not that they aren’t willing to help but bigger companies tend to prefer partnerships with bigger not-for-profits that can offer them all the benefits we discussed earlier.

Many smaller businesses are happy to develop a community-business partnership with local not-for-profit groups.

Have a look around your local area, which businesses publicise their partnerships through certificates or letters of appreciation inside their premises or advertise their support of community–business partnerships in local media. Is there a new business in town who’s keen to get themselves known in the area?

These are the sorts of businesses you should be approaching.

50 Tips for Finding (and Keeping) the Right Partner

Benefits of a local partner

  • More options – there are many more small and medium size businesses than large scale ones which means more chances of finding a suitable partner.
  • Easier to approach – more than likely, the owners and workers at the business will be local too which may mean they are already familiar with your work and make that first encounter less daunting!
  • More flexibility – there will be more opportunity to create a partnership agreement that works for you both and with many less hoops to jump through.
  • Close relationship – smaller businesses are more likely to understand your limitations, strengths and weaknesses and can result in a more hands-on relationship.
  • Aligned goals –  a local partnership my be more successful with both parties having a common interest in the benefits to the community.
  • Publicity – positive word-of-mouth and local media stories are much more easily generated when working with each other.
  • Grants – grant makers often look favourably on collaborative partnerships which can make those elusive grants easier to win.
  • More partnerships – a successful partnership might want others to jump on board with you too!

Note: While we encourage you to ‘shop local’ to find the right partner, don’t totally abandon the idea of a partnership with a state, national or even international business. The idea is not to put all of your eggs in the one basket!

See how some of our local foundations manage partnership programs

Hastings Education Fund have a detailed and very successful Diamond/Platinum/Gold sponsorship program. Check out an example of their Sponsorship Prospectus.
Boyce Chartered Accountants have been a supporter of CEF since 2003 providing pro bono accounting services to the national office and local foundations within their footprint as well as being members of those committees
CEF Coleambally/Darlington Point specify named scholarships for their students which helps to raise their profile in the community and also shows the support of the business or individual providing the funds.