“Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone. For the times they are a-changin’.” – Bob Dylan

Bob is right. You should listen to Bob.

Fundraising trends are changing, which makes it important for nonprofit organizations to stay ahead of the curve and consider their corporate partner engagement strategy with a fresh perspective.

Corporate giving in America has grown by 25% since 2007 and is cresting $31B annually. This level of charitable giving is higher than the entire GDP of 92 countries around the world. Cause marketing has become an entire industry that focuses on the cooperative efforts of a for-profit business and a nonprofit organization for mutual benefit.

Source: Giving USA and The Giving Institute

We designed an on-the-go mobile app for nonprofits called Amelia to help address this need for quantifiable performance metrics around corporate partner engagement. Our clients use Amelia to help their fundraisers and board members track phone calls and in-person meetings to improve workflow efficiency and track corporate partner activity to show ROI.

In the past, nonprofits could rely on a company’s altruistic side without having to show return on investment, including employee time, financial gifts and in-kind donation of goods or services. It’s not that companies aren’t “good people” anymore, it’s that they now require a more quantifiable exchange of value to ensure a balanced relationship.

They want to know:

  1. How is employee engagement enhanced because of a nonprofit partnership?
  2. How likely is this partnership to increase our customers’ perception of our brand?
  3. How willing are customers to do business with us, because we are affiliated with a nonprofit?
  4. How aligned is our existing customer base with this particular cause?
  5. What is our customers’ propensity to donate to this particular cause?
  6. How could alignment with this nonprofit organization negatively impact our bottom line?

They want a balanced, value-driven partnership. Amelia helps achieve this by tracking critical corporate partner engagement metrics, including:

  • Check ins (e.g., phone calls and in-person meetings)
  • Notes
  • Fundraising history
  • Fundraising progress
  • Photos
  • Action items

Although it sounds counterculture, nonprofits need to think more like a for-profit corporation that has acute economic responsibility to shareholders. Okay, that’s intense, but they do need to be more data-driven when projecting anticipated ROI when pitching the business case of a partnership with potential partners.

For example, Amelia provides nonprofits with quantifiable data that says, “We’ve had 18 conversations with this store and employees are motivated. They told us their sales revenue is up 6% from last year at this time. They look forward to this campaign every year.” Fundraisers can log all this useful data with Amelia.

Or to show that the locations that received calls and in-person meetings had higher revenues than less-engaged partner locations. This anecdote speaks to the direct economic benefits of motivated, engaged employees.

I love how author Jason Saul says that, “Corporations reap direct economic benefits from supporting nonprofits (research has shown a direct correlation between corporate giving and brand value, visibility, employee retention, customer loyalty, and even future revenues).”

Simply put, if you speak to these strategic priorities and choke points, you’ll be more likely to prove that alignment with your cause will lead to positive outcomes for their brand perception and bottom line.

How valuable do customers find a partnership between a company and a cause?

  • 92% of customers have a more positive image of the company
  • 87% of customers would be more likely to trust the company
  • 88% of customers would be more loyal to the company
  • 70% of customers would give to a cause if a company employee recommends it

Reward and punishment in the cause marketing space | Source: 2017 CSR Cone Communications

If your nonprofit can address these core focus areas, corporate partners will be more responsive to the needs of your organization. Amelia helps nonprofits keep track of all these things, so fundraisers can focus on their partners’ needs and worry less about reporting.

And once you prove to decision makers that you and your cause are the right fit? Smart corporate partners will bake you into their business culture and you’ll become a key component of how they communicate with customers.

Originally written by Ashley Sundquist