children raising their hands in classA title company partners with a Habitat for Humanity affiliate. At every closing, the company sets aside $100 for the nonprofit or about $5,000 per year. Imagine, instead, that once a year, the company hosts a housewarming party in a new Habitat home where it presents a $5,000 check. It invites everyone on its mailing list to reconnect with customers and friends. Everyone meets the jazzed-up new homeowner’s children, tours the home, and enjoys the title company’s thanks for their business—that, in part, created the home. Over snacks, a Habitat volunteer shares the distinctive benefits of Habitat’s work. They invite guests to volunteer next Saturday morning.

This is the best kind of corporate responsibility. Instead of just giving. It engages. It provides new benefits where everyone gains. In this case, the community’s housing stock improves. One family trades in their substandard housing for a new home. It exchanges rent for a mortgage and equity. Habitat shares its story and inspires new volunteers. The title company reconnects with their best referral sources and makes them proud of their association. The title company’s smart philanthropy bolsters a chain of benefits for everyone including the title company.

Corporate philanthropy is grand. Corporate philanthropy that improves your business is sometimes counterintuitive but always brilliant. You, too, can improve your bottom line by adopting high-quality corporate philanthropic practices. This article outlines what you might achieve and how to identify potential partners.

What You Can Achieve

Successful partnerships offer benefits, such as:

  • Attracting new customers. For instance, a wealth management firm arranges a behind-the-scenes tour of a new gallery. It invites current customers and its prospect list.
  • Reducing costs. For example, your staff engages in regular hands-on activities, such as filling backpacks for at-risk students. This increases satisfaction that extends to their jobs and reduces your recruitment and retention costs.
  • Solving long-term business challenges and tapping into emerging opportunities. A construction company creates scholarships for different trades in short supply that it needs for expansion.

How to Find Nonprofit Partners

To bolster your profits and performance through philanthropic activity, you will align with a nonprofit partner or partners that share your goals. Title companies fit logically with housing-focused nonprofits.

Where do you fit? You may lack obvious connections.

This is true even if you receive lots of requests. A caller asks you about placing an ad in a program or buying a gala table. After hanging up, the caller immediately dials the next business with the offer. Exceeding expectations requires customization and it takes star power.

Here’s how to get it: Explore the following questions to develop a list of potential partners. It comes from my work with clients who have bolstered their performance and profits with ideal partnerships.

Finding Excellent Partners Question 1: Who values what you value?

You care about many issues. Narrow your focus to five or fewer organizations whose missions overlap with your business goals. For instance, your business focuses on the environment. As your top causes, you identify environmental issues and getting youth into nature.

Besides answering who values what your value, noodle these questions:

  • What three things matter most in people’s lives?
  • What causes impact one or all three of them?

Now, mull over your business goals. What causes either directly or indirectly to grow customers, engage employees, or create the infrastructure to support your business’ growth?

Since nonprofits serve nearly every area of human endeavor, your answers will spotlight a few key areas. Yes, unfortunately, you’ll purge many fine organizations. Your reward will be a focus on causes with the most potential for returns. It’s quality over quantity.

Finding Excellent Partners Question 2: Who uses your map?

This question helps you to focus on specific nonprofits that share your geographic fit. Where do you provide most of your products or services? Where geographically do you expect to be in five years? Prioritize nonprofits that overlap this space. Free PR in California provides little value to a Tampa Bay operation.

Finding Excellent Partners Question 3: Who offers star power?

To exceed your corporate responsibility expectations, be a star. When it comes to star power brand-name nonprofits are best, right? Sometimes yes. Your customers will instantly recognize nonprofits, such as the Red Cross, The American Cancer Society, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. However, unless you make large investments compared to other donors with these groups, you will face lots of competition for stardom.

Instead, search “beyond the usual suspects.” Seek out high-quality and less well-known groups. Engage where your gifts will make staff and supporters cheer—and be motivated to customize actions. Depending on your goals, consider local environmental groups, employment causes, and up-and-coming art venues.

Exceed Your Corporate Expectations

To exceed your expectations be proactive. Consider the potential benefits of effective corporate philanthropy. Create a shortlist of potential nonprofit partners. Your next step is to investigate them individually.


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