Editor’s Note: As Thanksgiving approaches, we all start thinking about our blessings. So it seemed appropriate to dedicate this week’s blog post – and probably next week’s – to the topic of saying “thank you.” For next week, I’d like to write about how you thank your customers and/or give back to your community. So please drop me a quick note at Kristen@eventgarde.com!
But for now, one way to give back and say thanks: #GivingTuesday. This week’s guest blog post is from Kate Olsen, vice president of strategic projects for Network for Good, a technology platform that facilitates online fundraising and giveback opportunities. She tells us how your association/organization can participate in #GivingTuesday.
#GivingTuesday occurs on Dec. 3 this year and is an opportunity for companies, nonprofits and individuals alike to get involved for the greater good.
For those not in the know, #GivingTuesday is a campaign to add a national day of giving to the lineup of shopping days Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. It’s a prime opportunity for nonprofits and companies (and individuals) to collaborate for the greater good. Here are four steps to ensure your partnership’s success.
1. Seek mission and values alignment.
There are many reasons to form cross-sector partnerships: promotion to a bigger audience, inspiration from new ideas and approaches and access to additional skills, more resources and knowledge. And there are also just as many reasons not to partner: Support can come with strings attached, lack of trust, conflicting goals and mission creep.
To ensure you create a winning partnership, take the time to make sure there’s a good fit between your mission and the corporate partner’s brand identity and goals.
Luna’s Pure Prevention campaign provides a great example of nonprofit-corporate alignment. As a provider of nutrition for active women, Luna teamed up with the Breast Cancer Fund to find and eliminate environmental and preventable causes of breast cancer—a major health issue for women. It just makes sense.
2. Leverage complementary assets.
Assets are any resources that you and your corporate partner bring to the table. In addition to funding, assets can include people, skills, audience reach, relationships and technology.
A partnership is not just about getting access to corporate philanthropic dollars: It’s about true collaboration. Think about what assets your nonprofit has that will be of value to a corporate partner, and vice versa.
You have invested in a brand, program portfolio, supporter base and other resources that will help make the partnership a success. Never discount what you bring to the table.
3. Design the right partnership architecture.
Thinking through the goals of the partnership and designing a measurable campaign will help ensure transparency and focus, especially if you use those measurements to tell stories with impact. How can you engage supporters in relevant and meaningful ways? How will you measure their participation and communicate results?
One framework to help structure the partnership is the ladder of engagement. Offer your audience multiple ways to participate with your partnership based on their level of passion and commitment to the cause.
The No Kid Hungry campaign, led by Share Our Strength, does a great job of offering multiple ways to take action: donate, advocate, sign a pledge, spread the word and raise money for your cause.
How can you offer a ladder of engagement for #GivingTuesday? First, understand where your supporters congregate online; then design calls to action that leverage those channels. Here are a few ideas:
- #GivingTuesday Twitter chat (Encourage corporate sponsors to pledge $1 per tweet.)
- Random Acts of Kindness Facebook campaign (Have supporters share acts they performed or witnessed.)
- Inspirational generosity pins on Pinterest (Have supporters share what generosity means to them.)
- Kind deeds caught in the act on Instagram (Feature photos of generous acts and giving.)
- Messages of hope and generosity on YouTube (Feature testimonials about how giving affected their lives.)
Evolving a partnership requires taking the time to understand where you’ve been, what you’ve accomplished and how you can keep improving. Communicating impact to partnership stakeholders is a vital piece of that process. It’s also important to communicate that to your donors, and never forget to say thank you!
If you need inspiration, just check out the A Day Made Better thank you video for a refresher on powerful storytelling and expressing gratitude. You can also see how Phoenix House recapped its 2012 #GivingTuesday campaign and closed the loop for campaign participants with a heartfelt response from program beneficiaries.
Remember: Corporate-cause partnerships are all about relationships, collaboration, execution and impact (and fun!).