Nonprofits Impress Corporate Contributors by Solving Problems for Them
February 11, 2013
Charitable giving in the United States took a steep plunge during the recession, and while it has started to inch its way back up, it still has a long way to go to reach prerecession levels. Corporations remain especially cautious with their giving, so nonprofit organizations are forced to find creative ways to connect with and maximize their relationships with corporate contributors. Dan Portnoy, president of Portnoy Media Group in Pasadena, Calif., and author of “The Non-Profit Narrative: How Telling Stories Can Change the World,” says that flat is the new growth when it comes to corporate giving. Portnoy advises nonprofit groups to carefully craft a story to tell potential donors about themselves and their mission, then go a step further and think in terms of solving problems for corporate contributors.
He encourages clients to think in terms of solutions, which is not how nonprofits tend to think when cultivating relationships with corporate partners. Instead, they tend to pitch the idea that they are doing great work, so corporations should get involved. And because they are so involved in their missions, they fail to think about how they might help corporations solve a problem, even though they could easily position themselves to do so.
Portnoy encourages nonprofits to create events such as team-building exercises and volunteer days to drum up interest and cement their relationships with corporate partners. He says that getting employees together to do something for their community, whether that is planting a garden or painting a mural, can benefit both nonprofits and their corporate partners. Corporations often see these types of team-building experiences as a solution that they have been searching for to a problem.
He also recommends creating video or photographic records of such events to use for marketing purposes and to stimulate futre interest. The videos can also be used by nonprofits for show how they interact with corporations. They set a precedent for gaining additional corporate partners in the future, allowing them to show potential partners what theyt did previously and demonstrating how they were able to help that partner corporation solve a problem.
And posting a video or photos can help corporations tell their own story, allowing them to share the activity with their team.
“That allows them to say, ‘This is great stuff. We’re not just about dollars. We’re making real improvements in the community.’ There’s an obvious halo effect that comes from doing it this way.”