The Top Three Common Mistakes that Spoil Great Business-Nonprofit Partnerships

In July, I led a sponsor panel for the St. Petersburg Regional Art Summit. Panelist included staff from Bank of America; the local power company, Duke Energy; and AARP.  Each panelist shared the ins and outs of their programs. As we wrapped up, Ann Shaler, Senior Vice President at Bank of America, commented how much the panelists, despite their unique organizations, shared in common.
What was common, you ask? They’re frustrations. Read on to learn about three of them plus insights on why they happen.

1. Unheeded

The panelist justifiably complained about receiving proposals for activities that the sponsor had previously stated they didn’t allow, want, or couldn’t fund. If you’ve sent requests like this, you’re a victim of wishful thinking. You hope you’ll charm the sponsoring organization so that you’ll change their minds. Instead, you annoy them. Poor listening and over-scheduling also contribute to this error.

2.  No Free Lunch/strong

The panelists all received more opportunities than they have resources to fund. So nonprofits seeking meal requests were unwelcome, not from lack of sociability or interest, but due to time constraints. Why do nonprofits push for lunch? It fits your experiences with donors. Donor wooing tends to involves long, slow relationships. Business transactions begin with quick results and move toward more depth over time.

3. Sorry, “My Team” Can’t Build It    

Each panelist worked in an office alone or with one other person. The panelists found proposals that include business staff orchestrating elaborate events vexing. From the nonprofits’ viewpoint, companies look like a cargo ship full of human resources. You imagine these resources are easy to direct, tap, and collect. Unfortunately, you are often working with a person whose job, among other responsibilities, includes working with nonprofits organizations.
The panelist’s frustrations reflect nonprofit desires to work with businesses on sponsorship and a lack of understanding of business infrastructure, needs, and priorities. When you understand these common hurdles, you can design your sponsorship requests to avoid these frustrations, to generate a higher return, and make you and your organization shine.
If you would like to know more about forming business partnerships and obtaining sponsorship dollars, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I would love to help you and your organization grow your revenue this way.

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