You support nonprofit organizations to help your community, to give back, and because you like the causes. As a business leader, you also have critical business goals. Partnering with nonprofits can enhance many of these, especially marketing, branding, and employee retention.
For many, the idea of earning a business return through a partnership with a nonprofit is a new concept. This month I share Jenna's story to help you imagine what this can mean for your business.
Jenna donated to a number of causes throughout the year, mostly in response to requests from friends, clients, and acquaintances. At the end of the year, when cash flow allowed, she contributed to a business development incubator. She wished she could do more. And, although she couldn't trace specific business results to her gifts, they gave her satisfaction. She sensed that her actions enhanced her brand.
We began to work with her to maximize her philanthropic impact and market her work--two goals that she thought unrelated. Here's how we helped:
1. What: Goal Discovery and Clarity.
Jenna decided she wanted to support young entrepreneurs. We affirmed the incubator choice, but challenged her to think bigger, different, and explore places where her customer's interest (high end real estate) might overlap with entrepreneurship. We played with ideas, keeping in mind the goal of being proactive with the money she historically gave responsively. We focused in on nonprofits that supported entrepreneurs, and also ones that would appeal to her customers. By proactively considering more nonprofits, we opened a dozen possibilities she had never considered.
2. Who: Innovative Possibilities.
Two new ideas on the list excited Jenna: working with nonprofits that support artistic entrepreneurs, and a scholarship to support a technology student with entrepreneurial ambitions. She believed that both would be of interest to her clients. We both went to work. Jenna checked with several customers to get their response. We created a list and did some investigating of different nonprofits for Jenna to consider, based on their potential to provide amazing returns to Jenna, themselves, and the community.
3. What: Developing The Partnership.
When Jenna's customers indicated a preference for getting to know more about burgeoning arts opportunities, we identified five nonprofits with partnership potential. Jenna, armed with ideas and an understanding of the nonprofits' needs, approached the first--an arts alliance. She hit gold. In exchange for an investment that was equal to her previous year's donation budget, they developed a plan to create an evening at a local art gallery where a startup filmmaking team was showcased. Here Jenna's guests, current and potential customers, mingled and gained insider knowledge about the local film industry, met the gallery owner who shared information about the display, and received Jenna's thanks for making the evening possible because of the customer's work with Jenna. The nonprofit board members mingled with Jenna's guests, seeking new friends for the Alliance.
Jenna's measurable returns took some time to tally. The first evening, Jenna firmed up relationships with two potential clients, and heard from a handful more how much they enjoyed the evening. Jenna followed up and asked for referrals. She received three, and one became a customer. Win.
The art alliance obtained six new memberships. Over time, one joined the alliance board. They also pleased their individual artist members, who had been previously hard to serve. Win.
The gallery owner sold a painting and added guests to his mailing list. Win.
Most satisfying to Jenna, the film team gained a sponsor to launch their next film. Later in the year, when her revenue allowed it, she matched it. Win.
Moreover, Jenna continued the evenings regularly with different entrepreneurial artists. Over time, Jenna became known as the real estate agent who linked her work with support for a growing freelance artistic community. Jenna gives even more these days to the incubator she originally supported, because her bottom-line allows it. Grand slam.
You can adapt this process to enhance your brand and bottom line. Of course, your interests and those of your customers will vary from Jenna's. Together, we can develop concepts that will create wins for everyone so you can also enjoy a grand slam. -- Karen