Cause Blog

How to choose a nonprofit partner, Part 5: A few tips.

by Ed Lord


This is part 5 of our 5-part series on choosing a cause partner and covers some useful tips for partnering. You can start the series here.

In closing this series, I’d like to give a few final pointers that will help you when choosing a nonprofit partner:

Great cause doesn’t mean great fit. 

You may find a hundred causes that deserve your dollars. However, the fit with some may be bad. While they may all be great organizations, ultimately you’ll have a bigger impact when your Cause Marketing efforts go into a cause that clearly aligns with your business. The more you can support each other, the bigger the impact you'll both have.

Evaluate as many organizations as possible. 

There may be a better fit out there. Maybe two organizations support the same cause, but one devotes their dollars to research and the other focuses on treatment and prevention. Subtle difference, but your stakeholders may see the later doing more tangible and immediate good. It’s not that organizations that only do research or invest heavily in lobbying are not wise choices, but the good they do can take years to see. These may be excellent choices for companies that want a long-term relationship with an organization that truly affects change. 

Avoid supporting too many causes. 

It’s great to have three or four great organizations that each work on different issues that your company aligns with. But remember: the more organizations you support, the more cautious you have to be. It’s entirely possible that you could find yourself supporting two great organizations that touch on opposite sides of the same issue. A public fight between the two could be disastrous for your organization. Most companies go with very popular causes that everyone can support or go with more focused causes that they can own.

Arrange for your dollars to help locally.

You want to make sure the dollars you give will have an impact in the local markets where they’re donated. Many national organizations are structured so this can happen. But check: You don’t want to find later that all that money you thought was helping close to home went to support national organization infrastructure or went to projects elsewhere. 

Fundraise for the organization.

As Cause Marketing evolves, more companies are deepening their commitment by making fundraising for their cause available to all their stakeholders—from employees to customers to the community. In the past, organizations have benefited from volunteering and donations. As we saw from the example of Dick's Sporting Goods in an earlier article in this series, stakeholder fundraising can have a substantially larger impact. At DonorDrive we’re seeing employees go beyond basic paycheck giving and express their enthusiasm for a corporate cause that they've embraced through fundraising. 

DIY fundraising programs have been especially successful: Employees are fundraising for the cause around their participation in marathons. We see employee families remembering loved ones who were committed to the cause with memorial campaigns. When DonorDrive becomes available to staff, we've seen them come up with their own innovative fundraising in the form of departments competing against each other. It's fundraising for the cause, but it's also benefiting the company by developing camaraderie, encouraging teamwork and building morale. When you make fundraising available for your customers and community, they can start their own giving campaigns as well.

Choosing a cause and a nonprofit partner is not as simple as it used to be. But in the past, the choice often didn’t have nearly as much impact on a business, nor was it as publicly visible. Today some companies are finding that their cause actually defines their business model and that their choice of cause is the most important business decision they’ll make. 

We hope you’ve enjoyed this series. It will be part of an easy-to-share eBook soon.