Selecting a nonprofit or general cause for your business to support can be challenging. Our team has spoken to countless business owners and team leaders who feel overwhelmed by sponsorship and donation requests. Not having a clear strategy in place to guide their decision making process, businesses often respond with one of two extremes in reaction to charitable “asks”:
- Say “yes” to everyone
- Say “no” to everyone
Neither of these practices is ideal: saying yes to every ask usually results in the business making many smaller contributions to a variety of causes, which results in little to no overall impact. Because these donations aren’t as effective as they could be, the business gains little in terms of brand awareness or reputational benefits. And while saying no to all requests guards against partnerships that aren’t a good fit, it also means that business will miss out on opportunities for meaningful, impactful, and mutually beneficial partnerships with nonprofits. With research showing us that consumers are increasingly drawn to socially responsible brands, saying no to every ask also poses a real risk of alienating current and potential customers.
As Goldilocks would lead us to believe, the right strategy is somewhere in between these extremes, and I use the word “strategy” very deliberately here. After years of helping businesses and nonprofits successfully navigate these partnerships, I believe there are three ways businesses should approach selecting a cause, and subsequently nonprofit partners who are working to support that cause.
#1 Pick a Cause That Matters to You and Your Team
Do you have a lot of pet lovers in your office who might enjoy collecting items for a local rescue organization? Are your employees creatively inclined, and maybe would enjoy supporting a youth art program? Or perhaps members of your team or their loved ones have been affected by a certain illness or medical condition: it may be meaningful to your team to partner with a nonprofit that is fundraising for research or to provide healthcare services to individuals and families who are also coping with these challenges.
#2 Pick a Cause That Matters to Your Business
If you own an antique shop, perhaps it benefits you to partner with a nonprofit that works to preserve local historic buildings. If you manage a family-friendly local pizza chain, perhaps you might want to consider sponsoring a kids’ sports league. Own a business that directly benefits from tourism? Work with groups that organize local neighborhood or beach cleanups and show how your company is working to preserve the beauty that draws visitors to your area.
#3 Do a Little of Both
Strategies and criteria are essential, but allow your organization the flexibility to respond to partnership opportunities that fall outside your formal strategy but still make sense for your business and your team. If you approach causes and nonprofit partnerships with an annual budget in mind (which we highly recommend), perhaps set aside a certain amount for new partnership opportunities that may arise during that calendar year. Planning for flexibility is still planning, and will allow you to keep the door open to new causes and organizations that you might not yet be aware of without compromising your existing commitments.
Need help finding causes and nonprofits to support? The Good Cause Marketing team would love to help you develop a corporate giving strategy that helps your business make a positive difference in your community.