Are you a non-profit planning for next year with big goals of securing that dream corporate partner?
Our 10 steps to successful Corporate Partnerships may help!
These 10 steps make up our HeartSmart® process that has successfully spawned over 30 partnerships in the last 22 years investing millions of dollars into NPO’s across Australia.
We’ve all done a dreaded SWOT at some point in our lives. In HeartSmart® we use a SWOTA, with an all-important Actions list at the end. The Actions need to directly relate to what is going to hold you back as well as advance you in corporate partnerships. A general SWOT will only produce a general list of problems, so make sure you get very specific. For example Murdoch Childrens Research Institute identified low consumer awareness levels, then set about to address that with a new advertising campaign featuring Sarah Murdoch.
2. Competitors Analysis
For this step, think about your competitors in the way corporates view causes. Corporates will often select a cause category first, such as environment, mental health, children, disability, etc. From that perspective, who will you be competing with for corporate partnership dollars? Once identified, research them to see what they’re doing well, and not so well, apply the lessons learned and update the SWOTA.
3. Assets Register
An Assets Register is a critical document for all not-for-profits who wish to enter a partnership that is claiming to be mutually beneficial (as distinct from a donation). If you haven’t identified precisely what you have to offer a corporate, you’ll get caught out at the very first meeting. An Assets Register is a catalogue of everything you have to offer a potential partner, and importantly the value of these Assets, as determined by an independent media buyer.
4. Identifying suspects
We have a formula that shows you how to identify Suspects that align to your brand character, geographic scope and core purpose. We find this works much better than relying on who you and your Board know. You need to focus on companies that your organisation would publicly align with and that would make sense to your target market. In HeartSmart® our thinktank produces over 300 Suspects.
5. Hot List
Of course, you can’t research 300 suspects! So we have a very simple, but we think, rather clever way of narrowing the Suspects down to a list of about 30 Prospects, and then further consolidating to a Hot List of 15 Prospects. You then research each of these Hot Prospects so that when you make the approach, your email will be relevant, tailored and not ignored!
6. Credentials Presentation
Too many NPO’s try to sell a partnership or sponsorship at the first meeting with a corporate Prospect, and some even try to do over email! This is usually due to pressure from above or a tight timeline. As you may have already found, this simply does not work. For a significant partnership, we recommend spending the first meeting giving a professional presentation about what you do, why you’re the perfect partner and your partnership model. You need a very compelling 15-minute Credentials Presentation, leaving plenty of time for asking ‘killer’ questions.
7. Partnership Model
Now that you know who your Prospects are, you have a list of your Assets and a great presentation; now it’s time to ensure that you have all your ducks in a row. It’s important to have a detailed set of guidelines which clearly articulates who will manage the partnerships, how you will divide the money (if you are Federated), if there are any companies you will or won’t support, and so on. You also need to know what your brand is worth; using our Brand Valuation Process enables you to place a $ value on your brand for use by a corporate partner. This now becomes your Corporate Partnerships Model.
8. Finalisation and Review
Now is a good time to get these documents approved and signed off by senior management to ensure that your whole organisation aligns to this new Model. It is dangerous to offer some Assets to corporates without CEO/Board sign off, for example, a large co-branded sign at your entrance or a branded article in your newsletter.
9. The Approach
We’ve tried many different strategies over the years and what works best is to email the right person at your Prospect company with a succinct email stating all the reasons why you are a perfect fit (The formula in steps 4/5 will give you this, along with research on the company). Then print out the email and post on the same day with an item to grab their attention. Something under $10 which relates to your organisation. For example, Greening Australia send a baby tree and a Research Institute sends a Rubik’s cube key ring. Don’t send a pen with your logo on it!
10. Securing a Partner
Most NPO’s worry about this part, when in fact it’s relatively easy if you’ve done steps 1-9. The thing that will save you a lot of time (which we know you don’t have much of) will be asking the Prospect for a Brief, so that when you do submit a proposal, you nail it. Then, and only then submit a MOU or contract. A corporate partnership should never be formed over a handshake or gentleman’s agreement!
Unless your sole responsibility is corporate partnerships and you can dedicate 100% of your time to this process, working through the 10 steps of the HeartSmart® process will take 8 months and around 200 hours. So, corporate partnerships are not for the faint-hearted!
For those NPO’s that have followed this process – CanTeen, Lifeline Australia, MCRI, Guide Dogs Australia, Fred Hollows Foundation, PetRescue, Step Back Think to name a few – the results have been stunning; millions of dollars in untied funding, valuable expertise, mass market exposure as well as access to new donors.
Learn more about the process at an upcoming free webinar or breaky seminar in Oct/Nov 2017.
Register for a free webinar here.
Register for a Breaky or Lunch seminar here.