How do corporate-nonprofit partnerships work, and what are the benefits?

According to the 2015 Cone Communications/Ebiquity Global CSR study, 91% of global consumers expect companies to do more than just make a profit. They expect them to also operate responsibly and address social and environmental problems. 

And it’s not just consumers: Their Employee Engagement study from 2016 found that 74% of employees say their job is more fulfilling when they are provided opportunities to make a positive impact at work. More than half said that they don’t want to work for an organization without a “strong social and environmental commitment.”  

The philanthropic role of a company is increasingly important, and approaching business with a socially responsible mindset is a great way to achieve objectives, like boosting reputation, increasing sales and decreasing employee turnover. 

As a result, over the last few years, we have seen more and more businesses taking the lead on social, environmental and developmental issues. With this expectation increasingly becoming an essential component for successful organizations, now is the perfect time to take the plunge into corporate-nonprofit partnerships to support important causes and increase corporate responsibility. 

At PADF, partnerships are key
At the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF), strong partnerships are crucial to supporting the charity’s mission of creating a hemisphere of opportunity for all. These robust partnerships come from nearly 60 years of experience working with local communities, government agencies, corporations, and academic and research institutions. 

PADF´s deep networks in Latin American and the Caribbean provides corporations with the capacity to design, manage and execute impactful and innovative programs that strengthen their brand and create meaningful change. These relationships make PADF uniquely positioned to develop, implement and deliver impactful and sustainable programs across many technical areas to bring about progress for the most vulnerable people throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.

The lasting connections that PADF facilitates with development allies and local communities is also responsible for improving the local capacity in the long term, beyond their direct involvement. But how exactly do these partnerships work, and what are the benefits?

A run-down on partnerships
Corporate partnerships create a mutually beneficial relationship that can lead to real change and powerful outcomes that can’t be achieved alone. (We’ve talked about this idea before – read up on co-creation on our Give Global blog!).

The benefits that can be realized by both parties include increased visibility through advocacy and raising awareness with each other’s unique audiences. These partnerships can also help inspire more individuals to get involved, driving engagement. 

For nonprofits, they often do more than offer crucial funds for programming – many companies can also provide vital expertise, resources, connections and influence. 

The benefits for corporations can be found both internally and externally. With both employees and consumers expecting more from businesses, partnering with a nonprofit is a perfect way to stand out from the often fierce competition. This move can result in a loyal customer base and highly satisfied employees, and it can therefore increase sales, reduce turnover and support the recruitment of more talented employees.

Working together to boost STEM learning 
PADF’s STEM Americas program is a great example of how corporate-nonprofit partnership has boosted the charity’s impact and ability to deliver services.

The program collaborates with governments, civil society and the private sector in countries across Latin America and the Caribbean. Its aim is to use hands-on learning to spark STEM-related interest in students. Together, they have reached more than 1,600 teachers and 64,000 students in 199 schools. The program focuses on inclusion and diversity for girls, low-income families, indigenous people and other vulnerable populations. 

These results would not be possible without the work of local partner organizations in each country and help of corporate partners like Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, BMW and The Boeing Company.

Over the past 12 years, Boeing and PADF have worked together to increase education and employment opportunities in Latin America and the Caribbean, including through the STEM Americas program. 

Boeing recently awarded a $700,000 grant for PADF to expand the STEM Americas program to Mexico, providing greater access to equitable STEM education and virtual learning opportunities during COVID-19. The program aims to reach 120 teachers and 150 students in 10 schools throughout the country. Additionally, PADF’s partnership with Oracle is exploring ways for employees to volunteer and help kids and teenagers learn coding and STEM skills. 

These partnerships can bring real benefits to both corporations and nonprofits – but only if they’re done right. 

What makes for the best corporate partnerships? 
Now we know the benefits of forming these kinds of alliances. So what exactly makes a good partnership? PADF has a couple things to keep in mind:

Find the perfect match. One major factor that leads to the best corporate-nonprofit partnerships is to ensure you share a common mission or value. It is vital to strive for an authentic connection and to do research to understand the culture, goals, principals and future of the other organization. Do not compromise the mission or goals or stray too far from core competencies and priorities – it is great to have new partners but only they are the correct fit. 

Approach the relationship as equals. A partnership is more likely to be successful when both parties recognize that they have independent, unique strengths that they can bring to the table. Approach the arrangement as equals seeking to gain a mutual benefit. Figure out what makes your organization valuable – expertise, brands, networks – and use these resources and talents to create the best partnership possible. 

Set clear expectations and goals. Successful enterprises start with fully understanding what an ideal partnership would look like for both organizations. This means getting on the same page by being open, honest and clear ahead of time. Both organizations should be responsible for creating an agreement for deliverables, timeline, expectations, obligations and end goals. However, as this last year has shown, you may still need to stay flexible to changes and unforeseen difficulties – so be ready to adapt and diversify as needed.

Create real connections. Strong connections are needed at all levels of both parties in order to build working relationships and trust. Foster these connections by staying in contact with regular check-ins and reports. Connect with other organizations who can assist in ways that go beyond financial support, like donating resources, offering pro bono services, sharing data, or providing technology or marketing support. For example, incorporate cross-promotion across digital channels as a marketing tactic to create new connections and reach different audiences.

Corporate-nonprofit partnerships offer endless possibilities for mutual benefits and their prevalence will likely only continue to increase. If you are looking for ways to create new partnerships or increase the employee engagement and social impact at your organization, Global Impact is here to help. Learn more about employee engagement and corporate social responsibility (CSR) or contact us to find out how you can partner with PADF to advance their cause.