What Businesses Want

Probably the biggest principle to remember about developing relationships with for-profit businesses, is that you are entering into an exchange relationship where both parties give and get something of value. It’s a two way-relationship. That is, you give to them and they give to you. You get the donation and they get a new avenue to better meet their goals. So, to get the maximum amount of donations, you need to know what their goals are.

What are their goals? It’s all about marketing and income. They want to increase awareness of their products and services to potential customers, in other words, increase their market visibility. They also want to expand their current customer base in order to increase sales and realize more profit. Businesses also want loyal customers who will stay with them and purchase their products or services again and again. In addition, they are looking for existing customers to buy more of their brand products, optimally to the exclusion of competing brands.  Companies value customer loyalty because it, like growing their customer base, leads to higher sales and bigger revenue streams. And lastly, despite common belief, most businesses really do want to be good corporate citizens.

It’s not the gross revenue that counts in the end, though. It’s net income, or revenues minus expenses. For-profit businesses, like nonprofits, try to keep expenses as low as they can. Expenses eat into net income. So, anything you can do to help them reduce costs is of value as well.  

But first you must create an awareness of your nonprofit within the business community. Then you have to know how a nonprofit agency can help a for-profit organization meet its goals. Nonprofits can connect with for-profit businesses in meeting their goals of increased community visibility, customer acquisition, customer loyalty, and reduced costs through partnership that offer specific and intentional  targeting and improved brand performance.

In many ways for-profit and nonprofits are the same. Yet, in many ways they are different too. One if the differences is for-profit language, particularly as it relates to marketing concepts. To speak their language, you need to know basic marketing concepts to take advantage of all businesses have to offer, Often business contributions include grants, employee giving programs, matching gifts, employee volunteer programs, in-kind donations, percentage of sales, and sponsorships, including other-than-event sponsorships.

Nonprofits and for-profits have things of great value to give to and receive from each other. The relationship will be the most lucrative to your nonprofit if  you understand how you can be of value to a for-profit business, exactly how valuable your relationship is in terms of dollars, and where you can share common bonds in meeting each other’s goals. Just remember that by approaching a company for a donation you are entering into an exchange relationship where both parties get and give something of value. If you just ask them to give, you will realize poor financial results and will have missed an opportunity to garner desperately needed funds. It’s a two-way relationship. Know what you have to give to the business community and how best to position yourself to realize your full financial value. 

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