Blogs & Comment

How to Build Better Partnerships

Is your company able to build and improve partnerships with non-profit organizations? It’s a lot harder than you’d expect.
Last night I was a guest lecturer in Dr. Tony Fattal’s social marketing class at York University. The topic was social marketing partnerships I was reminded that building effective partnerships is more complex and takes much longer than one would expect. The students were all terrific and participated in an interactive exercise where one team played the role of a non-profit environmental organization and the other team was a car manufacturer. Here are some of the things we learned:
– It takes a while for potential partners to get to know each other (like any important relationship).
– It’s not easy to find common ground when corporations are driven primarily by quantitative metrics while non-profits are concerned with qualitative outcomes.
– Consumers are more skeptical than ever and partnership programs need to me communicated in a way that is believable (especially to younger people who are more likely to recognize corporate self-interest or inauthentic practices)
– Most “partnerships” are really just large donations
Here’s what you can do to improve your partnerships with non-profits:
1. Take the time to get to know your partner
2. Share your primary business/organizational objectives with each other and look for the points of intersection
3. Develop a program where the business and social outcomes can be measured.
Also, stay tuned for the next episode of Conversations about Corporate Social Responsibility. It will feature Mary Alberti, CEO of the Schizophrenia Society of Ontarioand Anna Kennedy, Executive Director of the Lymphovenous Association of Ontario talking about partnerships from the perspective of non-profit organizations.