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Why a Charity Partnership Is Good for Business

Business and charity partnerships undoubtedly help the community. But a charity partnership can also be good for business.

The right charity partnership can boost your Business Value Proposition (BVP), which includes profitability, reputation and customer awareness.

What Is a Charity Partnership?

A charity partnership involves a more formal, organized relationship than making a financial donation at the end of the year or offering sponsorship at a charity golf tournament. When your business decides to enter into a charity partnership, you’ll be contributing money and volunteer time. Ideally, your employees should also want to be involved. For example, Morgan Stanley has a charitable partnership with Feeding America, a national food donation organization. About 6,000 of Morgan Stanley’s employees volunteer for Feeding America through the charity’s local food bank network.

The ideal charity partnership aligns your own values and the values of your business with a charity partner. Whenever you can find a good fit between values and mission, it’s a sign your business and the charity could be good long-term partners.

  • What’s the Right Charity for Your Business? 

    Charities that feed the hungry are sometimes a good partner fit for businesses with local offices. Food drives help boost employee morale and teamwork, and the community can get involved as well. Your business could sponsor donation boxes and organize the drive. Deliver the collected food to the organization’s local chapter, and chances are, you’ll also get local news coverage for your charitable partnership.

A woman accepts a box of donated canned goods from a man. Food drives are a good charity event for your business to host.

Selecting a Charity for Partnership

If you don’t already know which charity you’d like to partner with, you’ve probably got an idea of the type of charitable work you support. Or, you might personally support a specific charity, and it can seem like a natural extension to get your business and charity working together. Sometimes business and charity partnerships are a natural fit. For example, Diabetes Life Solutions, a health industry business, partners with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Matt Schmidt, the CEO of Diabetes Life Solutions, said to Business News Daily, “In my experience if you have a passion for a cause, it’ll help motivate you and help you remember why you donate.”

The organization you select should perform work that is a good fit for your business — including your employees and customers — and its mission. If you’re in the food industry, a food-related charity could be a good charity partnership. If you’re an animal care or grooming business, an animal charity is another natural choice.

Criteria for Choosing a Charity Partner

Once you’ve chosen the type of charity and cause for a partnership, you need to consider how to partner your business with a charity and decide whether a specific charity is qualified for your support. The general cause the charity is involved in is just the start. You’ll need to consider several factors when making a determination of which organization to support and formally create a business and charity partnership.

Is the Charity Well Known in Your Community?

A well-known and respected charity can help raise awareness of your business and services. A charity no one has ever heard of won’t offer the same benefit. However, you might experience the opposite problem: It’s possible for a charity to be too well known. Your small business and new partnership could be lost in the shuffle of a large, popular charity’s many supporting businesses and organizations.

Does the Charity Have a Strong Reputation for Making a Difference?

For example, Tree People is a Los Angeles-based organization that plants trees in Los Angeles and surrounding areas. They also provide environmental education to students in K-12 schools, colleges and universities. Tree People isn’t the largest or best-known Los Angeles charitable organization, but it has a universally positive reputation and can show amazing results from its 45-year history. The organization is also planting trees to help combat wildfires’ impact on the environment, evolving with changing community needs.

Look for a Good Match Between You and Your Employees and the Charity’s Representatives

If your employees are participating in volunteer efforts, you want to have a good rapport between them and the charity’s staff members and volunteers. You can learn if the pairing is a good one by volunteering for an event, or by meeting with the charity’s representatives.

Is the Charity Reputable?

You’ll need to do the same due diligence on the charity as you would for a prospective vendor or supplier. Look at their financial stability and service reporting. Charity Navigator is a website and organization that consolidates charitable financial and tax reports and also has a rating system for the charities. You can find valuable information about a charity’s business practices and financial stability by using Charity Navigator or requesting financial reports from the charity itself. The organizations are legally obligated to provide their audited financial statements and tax returns to donors and members of the media. Most charities make the information available on their website.

Volunteers prepare to plant a tree. In a charity partnership, your employees could work with the nonprofit's staff.

Benefits to a Corporate Charity Partnership

The following are the 5 main benefits to a business and charity partnership:

1. Increase Your Company’s Sales

Getting more visibility in the community can help build your sales or attract new customers.

2. Engage, Motivate and Retain Employees

Employees frequently cite non-salary rewards as reasons they enjoy working for a company. Volunteering with co-workers can help build strong employee teams and create a sense of community within your workforce.

3. Engage New Business Partners

Working on charitable events with other business and community leaders will help you get to know people who can help your business to grow, from local government officials to CEOs of businesses you could partner with in new sales and marketing ventures.

4. Boost Business Marketing and Reputation

Don’t expect to be front-page news because you wrote a $25 check on Dec. 31. However, do expect that your business’ sincere participation with a top-performing, well-respected charity will help to burnish your business’s reputation in the community. You’ll get a lot of no-cost positive marketing through positive charity partnerships.

5. Build Brand Awareness and Customer Loyalty

All of these benefits can grow year by year, and they tend to increase over time. From networking opportunities that can arise from working on charity events with your charity partner and other community leaders to improving your customers’ awareness of your own business values and work in the community — your investment of time and money in supporting a charity partner is one of the strongest returns on investment (ROI) you can make.

Amy Casil is a Southern California-based business planner and writer, as well as a former nonprofit housing and economic development executive. She is passionate about small business and has helped over 190 businesses to get funding to start up or expand.
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