How to Choose the Right Partner

We looked at ways for you to take a simple transaction (a company buys a table at an event), make sure that it is reinforced by a relationship (a senior executive sits on your board), and evolves into a true partnership (a mutually beneficial exchange involving promotion and co-branding and a number of people, including employees and volunteers, over time).

Let’s explore the factors that would help you identify which companies make the most sense to approach. Remember that your motivation should not be “They seem to have the money,” but rather, “I can see where we could help them meet their marketing, PR, or communications objectives.” Look for these win/win opportunities with businesses where:

  1. You can involve their employees as volunteers.
  2. They place a premium on engaging a senior executive on your board.
  3. Their identified corporate values and desired public image either align with (or are not contrary to) the industry you’re in and the people you serve.
  4. They could provide in-kind contributions of something you need, and, over time, cash as well.
  5. You can identify the “marketing door” point of contact (versus philanthropy, membership, etc.).
  6. They would consider your sponsorship promotion package to be valuable, and understand that your nonprofit has gift acceptance guidelines.
  7. Their desired sales and/or employee recruitment targets appear to match the population you serve or influence, while your desired outreach/client targets appear to match the population they do business with.
  8. A senior leader in their organization has a special or personal connection to your cause.
  9. They would be willing to sit down and brainstorm creatively about mutual interests and objectives, which would lead to a formal proposal from you.
  10. They purchase paid media in your market and/or do exceptionally well with social media–initiatives you might be able to share in the future.

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