Alignment Maximizes Your Partnerships


Long-term value comes from a shared long-term vision

Bright and early on Tuesday, October 18, I gave a talk on maximizing corporate partnerships alongside a colleague who talked about organizational purpose and its benefits. The two actually have significant overlap, as the alignment between nonprofits and corporations is critical, and that alignment largely comes down to values.

The session was done roundtable style (my favorite) and produced plenty of good dialogue. Typical for my presentations, there was a demand for real-life examples, stories that illustrated how things are supposed to work, or how they could work better.

Since the two presentations went together and built upon one another, let’s start with some highlights on purpose that I found valuable:

  • There is a difference between purpose, vision and mission. A way to remember those differences is to say that purpose guides you, vision is where you aspire to me, and mission drives you forward.

  • A study by the Harvard Business Review found that purpose-driven organizations simply do better: “Purpose-driven companies make more money, have more engaged employees and more loyal customers, and are even better at innovation and transformational change.”

  • According to the 2018 Cone/Porter Novelli Purpose Study, nearly 80% of customers say they are more loyal to purpose-driven brands than traditional brands, and nearly ¾ are more willing to defend them or pay a premium for them.

  • The corporate world now sees that purpose and profit go hand in hand, which provides more viable and creative opportunities for non-profit partnerships.

  • There are six key traits of purpose-driven organizations.

Beyond selecting the corporation as the nonprofit (or the charity as the company), partnerships come down to people. Here are some take-aways from my presentation:

  • Sponsorships and partnerships are not the same; partnerships are something with great depth and indicate a long-term relationship. Sponsorships are usually tied to events and benefits focus exclusively on visibility.

  • Mission alignment is the key to a strong corporate partnership. According to the 2015 Corporate Partner Survey conducted by For Momentum, 92% of corporations stated that brand alignment is the most important factor when selecting a nonprofit partner.

  • It’s important to nurture the relationship at several different points of contact. Connect deeply.

  • “The best partnerships aren't dependent on a mere common goal but on a shared path of equality, desire, and no small amount of passion.”

The group enjoyed the dialogue so much that we will be offering these sessions again in early December. I hope you can join us!

Katie Burkhart