As I mentioned in a previous post, the best for-profit and nonprofit partnerships occur when the organizations involved share similar missions, values and goals. So, how does your organization go about creating a portfolio of nonprofit partnerships that match its DNA? The Cone Past.Present.Future. 25th Anniversary Report addresses this question and suggests that companies consider the following:
-What social or environmental issues are core to their business? Further, what social and environmental issues do you have a vested, long-term interest in? Patagonia is commited to not only using the most envrionmentally sound materials and processes possible, they also strive to structure their business so as “to find solutions to the current environmental crisis.” They aren’t involved in these causes and issues merely to give themselves a philanthropic pat on the back. They need the great outdoors to continue to be great 10, 20, 30 years down the road if their business is going to survive and as a result to everything they can to preserve the environment.
-What assets can they leverage to maximize societal impact? That is, what are your key areas of strength as an organization? Often times you can look to your mission and vision statements to gain some insight and then dig deeper into your organization’s key areas of competency. Then, look for ways your areas of strength can be leveraged for greater societal change.
-What issues matter to their stakeholders? Everything comes back to the stakeholder. Aligning with a nonprofit requires time and resources. Understandably, stakeholders will be unlikely to encourage nonprofit partnerships if they don’t see a direct benefit to your company’s bottom line.
-Whom do they want to reach? (both beneficiaries and stakeholders) Toms shoes is an example of an organization that is doing a phenomenal job of enacting the answer to this question. They are selling shoes in order to donate shoes and vice versa. That is, the consumer/donor benefits the company, which in turn benefits the cause, etc. The relationship between the nonprofit cause and company is completely reciprocal.
In sum, selecting a cause(s) should be no different than picking an area of new venture; it should be a natural fit and an advantageous relationship for all involved.