When nonprofits and local businesses work together, both parties reap the benefits. The nonprofit gets the word out about its cause and expands its donor base, and the business boosts its sales and exposure in the community. It may sound too good to be true, but it’s really not. Here’s how to reach out to socially minded for-profits in your area and form successful partnerships with them.

Do your research

The first step of forming partnerships is deciding what type of organization you want to work with. Try to find a few that hold the same values as your organization and who’ve been known to partner with nonprofits. Once you’ve decided, you’ll want to give them a Business Value Proposition, or BVP, which outlines how the for-profit partner will benefit. Basically, you should sell yourself and explain all the reasons that particular business should collaborate with you.

Do lots of research on the business beforehand: read their annual reports, talk to employees, stalk their social media. And go beyond the basic “we want to raise money.” Give a clear, specific focus that’s centered around impacting the greater good in your area. Highlight all the values you and this business share and explain why a partnership would help their brand. 

Then, reach out to the corporation’s marketing department. If you can’t find specific contact information, go to the place in person. If all else fails, a direct message on social media might do the trick.  Once you get in contact, work with the company’s marketing team to decide on a fundraising tactic.

Cause marketing

The first method of partnership is “cause marketing.” Every time you’re in a grocery store and asked if you’d like to donate an extra dollar to breast cancer research, you’re experiencing cause marketing firsthand. If someone is standing there with bags of groceries and the cashier asks them to round to up the nearest dollar, the person usually feels pretty inclined to do so.

Or, if you’ve been to a restaurant where a percentage of the proceeds go to a certain charity, that’s cause marketing, too. While these are likely to only reel in a few bucks max per person, this is an amazing way to spread the word about your organization through the community.

Corporate sponsors

Another way to partner with for-profits is through corporate giving. Basically, a company makes charitable donations to your organization, which can usually be used for tax deductions, and then considers itself one of your sponsors. While this doesn’t necessarily rally the community in the same way cause marketing does, you’ll receive larger donations as a result.

There are pros and cons to both methods of partnership, and it’s up to your organization to decide which  would benefit you and your partners the most (of course, you can utilize them both). But whichever strategy you choose, multiple studies have shown that consumers prefer to support businesses that are socially responsible, so they’ll probably be more willing to partner with you than you’d think. In turn, these larger businesses can give your nonprofit the credibility and exposure it needs, so start reaching out to the socially minded for-profits in your area—you’d be surprised at the strong partnerships that form as a result!