How to build partnerships — beginning with cause marketing
I‘ve been spending some time lately with Bruce W. Burtch, a cause marketing expert in the Bay Area, to discuss opportunities for bringing together nonprofits and companies in a mutually beneficial partnership to advance the social good.
Bruce is the cause marketing columnist for Examiner.com and was actually the creator of the first cause marketing campaign, between March of Dimes and the Marriott Corp., three decades ago. He also designed the most successful campaign on emergency preparedness in the country through a partnership between Pacific Gas & Electric and the American Red Cross, raising over $1 million, attracting considerable media coverage and resulting in 1 million Bay Area residents being trained.
“This is one of the most outstanding ways of raising money, raising awareness, raising volunteers and finding board members,” he said of cross-sector partnerships. “It works for the nonprofits to create donations and awareness. It works for the for-profits to crate sales and good employee morale.”
I sat down with Bruce the other day to discuss cause marketing, his recent marketplace study and opportunities for “win-win” partnerships. In this 7-minute video conducted on San Francisco’s Embarcadero, he talks about some of the partnerships he has helped set up, like the one between Autodesk and Art from the Heart in the San Rafael school district.
Study highlights: Missed opportunities for nonprofits?
Bruce just released his annual Burtch Report, a survey of nonprofits and businesses in California (it’s available for free on this registration page). Such partnerships — sometimes called strategic philanthropy, cause marketing or cross-sector partnerships — are increasing in both number and in the breadth of the linkages between partners. The report found that 55 percent of nonprofits responding had partnerships with for-profit organizations, while 66 percent of for-profits said they did.
In the past few years, prominent cause marketing campaigns — such as Pepsi’s Refresh Project, American Express Members Project and the myriad breast cancer fundraising campaigns — have created a much higher public visibility of cross-sector marketing-focused partnerships, Bruce said.
“When a nonprofit and for-profit bring together their mutual assets and talents, and seek to create a greater good, their combined efforts can produce results far greater than either could do on their own,” he said. The survey found more than 16 different areas of potential linkage and benefit between nonprofit and for-profit organizations, including fund development, in-kind donations, volunteers, event sponsorships, board members, pro bono PR and advertising, earned income opportunities, sales incentive programs, loaned-executives, increased employee morale, brand recognition and more.
The businesses responding named these as the top benefits and return on investment for their partnerships with nonprofits:
24.5% Publicity received
22.9% Community goodwill
19.6% Sales generated
11.4% Volunteer satisfaction
8.1% Shareholder return
13.1% “Other” answers
The most unexpected finding of the survey was that while 59 percent of nonprofit respondents wanted to learn more about the benefits of cross-sector partnerships, some 27 percent of the nonprofits without such partnerships were not interested in learning about them. “I find it inconceivable that when faced with decreasing public and foundation financial support, the nonprofit community wouldn’t jump at the chance to explore the fundraising and cost-reducing benefits of corporate partnerships,” he said.
Read the Burtch Report for findings about the understanding gap between the two sectors.
JD Lasica, founder and former editor of Socialbrite, is co-founder of Cruiseable. Contact JD or follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported.