The days of 8-track tapes, pagers and one-sided corporate partnership asks are long gone. While one might argue that the Hipster movement has made retro cool, corporations definitely do NOT have an appreciation for old fashioned cause partnership pitches. If you are not inquiring about corporate goals and pitching relevant partnership activities of mutual strategic value, your pitch will likely be as interesting to a corporate brand team as a hand-knit VCR cover. Read on to see if your corporate pitch might need a make-over and learn how to think innovatively about cause partnership opportunities.
Is your approach cringe-worthy?
Recently a Fortune 500 corporate marketer told me: “…a big NGO came in the other day and presented their partnership opportunity. It was a steady refrain of ‘we need this; we need that; we want to accomplish this; our goals are that’. Under a hard to muster veil of politeness, we expressed how impressed we were with their mission…but that we simply didn’t have the budget this year. We actually did have a pretty sizeable budget – but we also had our set of goals, which this NGO didn’t seem the least bit interested in hearing.”
If you are looking for a one-off donation, that is one thing. If you are looking to enjoy the incredibly valuable financial support, in-kind support and brand power of a long term corporate partnership, your goal should be to uncover the sweet spot where support of your nonprofit’s mission actually drives the corporate partner’s bottom line. This is the Holy Grail of cause partnerships.
Meeting of the Minds
What should you do in that first big meeting, instead of pitching 8-track tapes?
1) Always show up prepared. Scour your prospect’s website and the internet for intel about brand activities, new campaigns, launches, and about the people in the room – dig around! Be well versed in the brand’s products and core values as well as community outreach focus areas. You might even opt to toss in a few points about what their biggest competition is doing in the cause space, going the extra mile to show how interested you are in helping their brand stand out.
2) At the top of the meeting, before you go into your spiel, ALWAYS be proactive and ask them to share their current brand goals and pain points. Then, tailor your pitch on the fly as needed to showcase that you heard them and that you are very interested in supporting their strategic goals via the potential partnership activations.
3) Be proactive about kicking off a brainstorming-style dialogue about opportunities and assets (yours and theirs) that could potentially support mutual goals. This dialogue should help you peak their interest enough to secure a second meeting where you can continue the discussion about a value-based customized approach to strategic partnership.
Please Note: At no time in this first meeting was a specific ask for money made. Your goal at this time is to uncover and illuminate areas of potential MUTUAL VALUE where, together, you can create POSITIVE STRATEGIC OUTCOMES —and get a follow up meeting!
“Use the Force” – the Force of the market to drive social impact!
There are many, many ways to derive mutual value from a cause partnership. The nuances of exactly how the partnership is positioned and how it is brought to life can play a huge role in its impact and staying power. It is vital to get this right.
If your nonprofit can bring something to the table that actually helps accelerate the corporate partner reaching its goals – then you can build a partnership that harnesses the magic of the capitalist engine to drive bottom line societal benefits – like lives saved.
In our work with major corporate brands, we have found creative ways to structure cause partnerships that deliver against strategic goals, driving significant social impact outcomes, as well as significant bottom-line value for the corporate partner. These partnerships, where both partners receive tangible value, are extremely powerful and stand the test of time. In fact, our work with Pfizer’s Zoetis brand won a Gold Halo Award in the business integration category for this very reason.
Is it time for your nonprofit organization to apply some innovative thinking when it comes to corporate partnership opportunities – so that your prospects’ eyes light up at your pitch instead of glaze over? Shoot us an email if you need some help harnessing the Force to support your important mission.