Nonprofits: Now is the Time to Build Strong Relationships

The Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship recently provided leadership perspectives on corporate citizenship, citing that business leaders are planning to increase corporate citizenship efforts over the next three years. If you read some of the vignettes, you’ll see that there are a lot of references to sustainability and inclusion and making a bigger impact in the world.

This, of course, is good news. Not just because companies are willing to make bigger or different investments in communities, but because it also provides nonprofits with an opportunity to create long-lasting relationships with those businesses. Rather than ask a company to buy a table at your annual fundraising event, why not meet with them to understand the company’s long-term goals and explore how you can help them achieve those goals? You should be doing that anyway, but if you haven’t, it is not too late to start. Here are some key questions to ask when you meet with the Director of Corporate Responsibility:

  • What is the plan to achieve your company’s long-term CSR goals?
  • Given the assets of our nonprofit (such as deep knowledge of the community and strong relationships), how can we help you achieve those goals?
  • Are you looking for ongoing volunteer opportunities for your employees? Would you like to be made aware of nonprofits boards and committees on which they can participate? (Note: Don’t hesitate to be honest here. If the company wants to have 100 employees descend in your community garden for a day and you don’t have the capacity to do that, tell them. You want this to be a good experience for everyone, and they will appreciate your candor.)
  • What kind of public relations exposure are you seeking, and in what ways can we support those efforts? How can we help you showcase your efforts to your customers?

These are just a few starter questions, but if you start asking them, the Director with whom you are meeting will know that you’re focused on building a relationship, and not just asking for money. And if you build that relationship in a smart way, the resources will eventually follow.

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