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Engaging people from the for-profit sector in the work you do can bring some unique benefits to your organization. Folks from the corporate world often express their passion for community by sitting on our boards of directors, but that’s just one way to engage people from this sector. In this section you’ll find helpful hints and info about corporate partnerships and employee volunteering that we hope will Spark corporate engagement activities at your organization.
Reach into your networks and find other non-profits who have worked with business. Request a meeting and ask them questions. How did they do it? What worked? What didn’t work? It may even be worth setting up a group to share ideas and practices locally.
Connect with your local Volunteer Centre. They often have great resources and helpful advice related to corporate volunteerism. They could also connect you with a non-profit who has worked with corporations. Find your local Volunteer Centre by clicking here: http://ovcn.ca/map
Increasingly, non-profits want to create meaningful relationships with corporations that go beyond a single activity or interaction. . Corporate partnerships can be very valuable as business can offer resources that non-profits often just don’t have. And we don’t just mean money. Corporations also have enthusiastic people wanting to learn and share their skills, resources, visibility and connections. But just like any other great relationship, building a successful corporate partnership requires an organizational commitment to the time and energy it will take Here are some steps you can take to make it happen.
Do some research and find some businesses you’d like to partner with. It could be because they’re local, you share common causes or you have similar values. Cceate a list of these potential matches. Finding a business that you want to be involved with is kind of like going on a blind date. Learning as much as you can before meeting in person can help you avoid any awkwardness and demonstrates that you care as much as they do about whether the relationship could be the right fit.
Target your first potential corporate partner and see if they have a CSR program. Does your non-profit complement their program? Document how you see your organization’s mission dovetailing with their CSR program. If they don’t have a CSR program, try searching their Twitter feed, Facebook page or other public communications to see which causes or issues they appear to support. Also, look at their website to find information about their values. Pay attention to their marketing campaigns to learn what the company cares about and what they want their customers to believe about them. The more information you can gather about their brand, the better you’ll be able to position your organization as an obvious choice for a partnership.
Don’t forget to check out the leaders of the corporation on LinkedIn and by doing a Google search. Look for articles that share which issues or causes they support.
Every corporation will want something different from a non-profit partnership. Think about the level of involvement you expect from them. Are you seeking financial support only? Or do you want to engage their employees as volunteers in addition to financial support? Be prepared to negotiate
Once you’ve done your homework and you’re ready for the pitch, see if you can identify someone within the business that you can meet with. Take them for coffee or invite them to your offices for a tour. Having an ally within the company that understands your organization is helpful in priming the person with whom you will make your ask. If possible make the pitch in person. Be sure to tell them about the amazing work your organization does but get to the heart of your proposition quickly. Highlight the social impact of the partnership and how the corporation will benefit.
Finding an ideal partner may take some time, and you may not feel a *spark with the first one you approach but keep doing your homework and move on to the next! You’ll know when you’ve met ‘the one’!
Many corporations see volunteering as an opportunity for skill or team building for their employees as well as increasing their visibility in the communities where they live and work. Often, the corporation has decided it wants to volunteer and has done some research into what causes and organizations they want to support. Now they are calling you. And they may be asking you to accommodate large groups or for specific dates. Here are some things to consider.
If you have the right opportunity available, that’s great! Sometimes though, there is a difference between what the corporation is asking for and what the non-profit is able to provide. This does’nt mean you have to say ‘no’ right away. Ask for time to consider their request but make sure you tell them when you will get back to them and ensure it is within a couple of days. Business moves fast and often the person on the phone is reporting to someone else or a committee who are looking for results.
Now it’s time to get creative - do some research on the company to see what they do, what skills they are likely to have and think about how they might align with your client or organizational needs. Are they a technology company? Could they provide training for your clients or staff? Maybe they have financial skills and you could work with them to arrange a training session on interpreting financial reportsfor a group of Board Directors in your area.
It may seem like a lot of work to prepare for and deliver a meaningful volunteering opportunity for a group of employee volunteers but the payback for your organization and their business may be much greater. Try it! You might like it…
Pitch a few of the ideas you generated in your return phone call. Even if it doesn’t work out, you’ve demonstrated your readiness to find ways to involve a group volunteers that you hadn’t considered before.
It’s also okay to say no. If you can’t accommodate an employee volunteering group, you can still help the corporation by pointing them toward a non-profit. who might be able to help them out. You can also refer them to here to SparkOntario. We are all ambassadors of the non-profit sector and helping business to feel welcome is important for us all.