A Publication of WTVP

When thinking about partnering with a media outlet or acquiring a potential sponsorship by someone in the business community, it is important for the nonprofit entity to examine the opportunity from its potential partner’s point of view. As most organizations are keenly aware, companies are now more cautious than ever when contemplating donations of money, time, manpower and publicity.

This does not mean that businesses no longer support charities and nonprofits. The business world and media continue to be very supportive, and most strive to be good corporate citizens. But there are a lot of worthy causes and organizations in need of help. How can your organization stand out? How can you assure a positive response to your next campaign? Let’s talk about the art of partnering.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines partner in this manner:
part·ner [pahrt-ner] noun: a person who takes part in an undertaking or endeavor with another or others, especially in a business or company with shared risks and profits. verb: [with object] to associate as a partner (or partners with) to achieve common goals.

What businesses and media outlets want today is the ability to partner with organizations—not just make donations. They are looking for ways to help, while at the same time, receiving some type of benefit to their companies. They are looking for win-win scenarios.

Often, one of the bigger mistakes made by nonprofits is the failure to recognize those who helped make their good works possible. Simply including a sponsor or media partner in a campaign’s marketing is a good start. By using a television, radio or newspaper ad campaign to honor a partner’s or private donor’s contributions to their cause, a nonprofit can retain an annual contribution and open new avenues for more donations. Additionally, many private organizations are eager to partner with nonprofits to create educational programs that promote the private organization while helping the nonprofit.

But the real key in establishing a true win-win situation is to actually find out what the business or media outlet you are working with really wants to accomplish. The only way to do this is by asking a lot of questions and talking to the right people. To create a true partnership, you must find the win for everyone. Let’s look at a couple of charity auction scenarios with two different approaches:

A) Media Partner

  1. You approach a television or radio station to run advertisements for your event. You explain the great works your organization does for the community. You would like for them to run announcements for your event for three weeks, and in return they will receive a full-page ad in your evening’s program. You would also like them to provide an emcee for the event.
  2. You approach the same media outlet to run advertisements for your event. You explain the great works your organization does for the community. This time, however, you explore their needs, wants and goals. You find out that they have a new program or personality that they are looking to promote. You begin brainstorming ways that the station could help your event and receive additional publicity for their new program. At this point, you are partnering with them to achieve a win-win.

B) Corporate Donor

  1. You are looking for a large cash donation from one of the area’s sizable companies to underwrite your event. You meet with their public affairs department and lay out your case for why your organization is deserving of their donation and all the great works you do. In exchange, they will be billed as the event’s primary sponsor.
  2. You are again looking for a large cash donation from one of the area’s sizable companies to underwrite your event. This time, before meeting with their public affairs department, you meet with human resources, marketing and sales. You discover that they are looking for ways to recognize and retain their employees. Now you start brainstorming ways you can structure some of the marketing for the event to help them recognize and salute their employees. You also find out that they have a new product coming to market in the near-future, and that they are looking for ways to promote it. Now, instead of the company being the primary sponsor, you start talking about the company’s new product being featured. Now you are working on a partnership.

Most all nonprofits do good work and support worthy causes. But regardless of how great the cause, competing for charitable dollars can be difficult. By asking donors how they can best serve them, the nonprofit can open new doors for promotion and action. A win-win situation is always ideal and can be accomplished when both sides communicate. Before you embark on your next fundraising endeavor, think about your potential partner’s goals. Think about what you can provide to your partner. Partner. part•ner [pahrt-ner]. iBi