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  • Writer's pictureS3 Solutions

Pros and Cons of Corporate Partnerships

These days, partnerships between companies and nonprofits are at an all-time high.

Why? Because they both support each other in different ways. For charities, they can find powerful allies in corporations. On the other hand, businesses can use philanthropy to meet their goals.

But mainly, the reason the two come together is to initiate positive change. This may be a one-off, or it may be a long-term relationship.

Either way, every collaboration has its pros and cons. In this blog, we will talk you through these so that you can decide if corporate partnerships are the right choice for you.

What is a Corporate Partnership?

While it may sound self-explanatory, there’s a lot to a corporate partnership. They are known as a cooperation between two organisations: a nonprofit and for-profit. These are usually mutually beneficial, and brought together by shared values and common goals.

These relationships used to be solely focused on sponsorship-like deals. These being a form of advertising where a company would pay to be associated with certain charity events or causes. Nowadays, corporate partnerships are a lot more diverse, with more innovative and extensive plans mapped out to benefit and boost one another.

While these collaborations are more dynamic, they are still very much focused on ‘you scratch my back, I scratch yours’ attitudes. For example, a partnership may involve for-profit employees volunteering to help the nonprofit. By lending a helping hand to those in need, this would in turn create a great PR opportunity for the for-profit - plus help increase exposure for the nonprofit. As you can see, these types of unions comprise a never-ending cycle of benefits.

Corporate Partnerships: The Pros and Cons

As is the case with many partnerships, there are advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a closer look at each of these:

The Pros

Successful corporate partnerships can unlock a lot of potential for both parties. For nonprofits, it can allow access to new skills, funding, resources and people. This works wonders for extending reach and making a bigger impact on society.

With for-profits, it is a great way to fulfil corporate social responsibility. As today, it’s simply not enough to sell a good product. Their efforts need to be focused on messaging, and how to best represent the business and appeal to new audiences.

Here are the key pros to corporate partnerships:

PR and Marketing

These relationships pose as fantastic opportunities to spread the good word - whether it be for the nonprofit, for-profit, or both. These chances can be used to shed a spotlight on announcing the new partnership, or promoting new achievements. Either way, the possibilities are endless when it comes to raising awareness for both parties.

For-profits benefit hugely from this, as people want more than just a product or service. They want a relatable brand that speaks to them and shares the same values as them. By promoting corporate philanthropy, this not only helps to achieve this, but also improves customer confidence. This can lead to a more positive, memorable public image for the business.

For nonprofits, such partnerships can offer a new strand of marketing tactics, from PR right through to social media content. These can all be used to boost visibility of the nonprofit through meaningful advocates, which can help generate a hype.

Greater Support

For nonprofits especially, they can benefit from increased help from the for-profit. This can be in the form of financial or physical support.

For example, a nonprofit and a for-profit may join to initiate a volunteer programme. With these, the nonprofit will receive a helping hand with their work. This could be anything from hanging clothes in a charity shop, to fundraising in the street. A for-profit will then be able to demonstrate that they are fulfilling their goal of corporate social responsibility.

On the other hand, they may receive financial support. Many companies opt for sponsorship of a charity event or cause, which is more of a short-term partnership. The nonprofit gets funding, while the for-profit receives advertising.

Employee Satisfaction

Companies that partner with nonprofits tend to have better employee retention, satisfaction, and engagement compared to those without.

These days, more companies are investing in reinventing philanthropy as an employee-centered growth strategy. This is because employees want to feel proud of their workplace. From this, do-good companies can also save a lot of time and money on employee turnover in the long-run.

Nonprofit employees can also reap the rewards of these partnerships. With extra support, they will feel better equipped to help the charity meet its goals. It is also a great way to socialise and learn new skills, all of which contribute to long-term employee satisfaction.

Corporate partnerships bring many benefits to both parties

The Cons

While there are many benefits, it is important to be aware of the cons of corporate partnerships.

Forming these types of relationships is a big commitment. Therefore, you must be prepared to invest time, resources and energy into making sure it's right. While this time may cost both parties, it is worthwhile in the long-run.

Here’s some of the main points to prepare for before you get started:

Wrong Fit

Often, many corporate partnerships fail because the fit isn’t quite right. Either expectations are not properly established, efforts are not equal or the passion simply isn’t shared.

Yet, this is all easily preventable. It is true when they say, communication is key. As long as the following three factors are properly outlined, a successful partnership can be expected:

  • Mutual benefits: the relationship should equally benefit both parties, these should be stated in any agreement prior to cementing the partnership.

  • Alignment of values: the cause should be a common ground between the two parties. Usually, when it comes to charities, these are supported for personal reasons - this needs to be communicated in order to establish a bond.

  • Open communication: transparency is key. You must state what both parties’ expectations are from the partnership and what you want to achieve in the future together.

Pressure to Succeed

When promises are made, it can be a daunting task to fulfil these, especially in the early stages of the partnership.

It could be that the plan is backlogged due to workloads on both sides. Or that both need to clearly set out one another’s duties.

While appealing to one another is important, it is vital to cement:

  • How often both parties will communicate (weekly/bi-weekly/monthly)

  • How the work is going to be done (who is responsible for what)

  • Estimated milestones and timescales

This way, everyone is held accountable and the partnership can get off to a good start. While there will always be a hint of pressure to succeed, this can be used as motivation to ensure a prosperous relationship.

S3 Solutions is an independent consultancy company, with a focus on helping the voluntary and public sectors. For more information on corporate partnerships, simply contact the team today and we will be happy to help.


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