How to Find the Right Partners for Your Corporate Social Responsibility Program

It’s planning time for 2017! In addition to our personal New Year’s resolutions (hello, marathon! OK, maybe 5K), many companies are also setting goals for the next year – a gazillion dollars in revenue, the CEO on the cover of the publication that only features the most brilliant business luminaries, and a slew of awards about being the best place on the planet to work. Who could want more?

Unfortunately, many of those goals are beyond the control of just one company. But what is within reach is the way we treat others – both at a personal level and a company level. Many companies have formalized this in their corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs. While CSR programs can often have a wide sphere of influence, from supply chains to distribution channels and everything in between, let’s hone in on those programs that focus on partnerships between non-profits and companies. One great example is the partnership between Under Armour and Wounded Warrior. These two organizations have found commonalities between their customers and supporters to create a relationship that is relevant to both groups AND supports a great cause while creating goodwill for Under Armour.

However many companies haven’t been so fortunate to find such an obvious affinity between their offerings and a nonprofit. That’s not surprising, considering there are 1.5 million nonprofit organizations in the US alone. In fact, one agency recently told us, “We were working on a nonprofit corporate social responsibility (CSR) program and we wanted to recommended nonprofits for the client. We had a real problem finding the NFPs that would be relevant. The team just brainstormed on a ton of them.”

Here’s the irony – many nonprofits have the same challenge! They know there’s an opportunity to develop a strategic relationship with a special company, but knowing who that company should be is, well, difficult. Sure, you can start with the handful of companies where the execs have friends, or that brand whose commercial you saw while you were watching Jimmy Fallon last night. But we believe there’s a better way to find the right fit. No surprise – it starts with understanding what your audience looks like and what they care about.

Finding the best company or nonprofit to partner with starts with understanding what each organization’s audience looks like and what they care about.

For nonprofits, knowing which brands your fans like and purchase can give you a great list of potential sponsors. For brands, learning about the causes your customers support and engage with gives you a shortlist of valuable candidates. Platforms like ours here at SpotRight can be very helpful in this discovery process, but if you don’t have access to technology like PersonaBuilder, conducting interviews with as many of your customers or supporters as you can is another option.

We’ve developed a step by step process to finding the right partners in the infographic below. Click here to download a full-sized copy of the infographic!

In the end, thoughtful relationships between corporations and causes give both organizations a boost. No doubt, though, that the best part is the real winners are those assisted by the nonprofit. And that, my friend, is a fantastic way to start 2017.