Brands should strive to develop a reputation that is sustainable through the booms and busts of our economy. They accomplish this by contributing to a higher cause in a meaningful way that merits public support. For many, this takes the form of establishing a cause program by identifying a signature cause to support and partner with. 

So, where to start with your efforts in this area? 

I recently took part in the Navigating the Corporate Partnership Opportunity webinar hosted by the Cause Marketing Forum and facilitated by DeShele Denise Dorsey, senior managing director at Changing Our World, Inc., and Debra Gaynor, chief business strategist at Marina Maher Communications. Below are some important takeaways to guide you in the right direction as you start to think about the cause partnership that is right for your brand.

    1. Determine your assets. What can your organization offer a nonprofit? Who do you influence and who are your key stakeholders? Nonprofits want to tap into these groups so you need to make sure the groups are relevant to them. 
    2. Are you ready? Do you have the organizational capacity to coordinate the cause partnership? Do you know how to quantify the reach, outcomes and impacts of the partnership? Does your organization have a compelling story to tell that is attractive to nonprofits? Are you a thought leader and expert in your industry?
    3. Show your value. What are possible outcomes you can share with a nonprofit? Impress them with numbers, the potential for consumer behavior change, and impact. Along with facts and figures, you should also tie in stories, inspiration and the emotional connection that could result. 
    4. Be part of the dialogue. Make sure your brand is present in online conversations where your potential nonprofit partner can be found. They will want to know you’re a natural at speaking their lingo and can fit in with conversations their audiences are starting.
    5. Look for the right fit. Consider the compatibility of your brand’s mission, values and business goals with a potential nonprofit partner. Are there stakeholder engagement opportunities? Are there recognition and co-branding opportunities?

In addition to these takeaways, there are three simple things to consider when approaching a nonprofit for a cause partnership:

    1. Speak the same language
    2. Have a win-win proposition
    3. Set realistic expectations

Check out the U by Kotex and Girls for Change partnership for an excellent example of a good fit between brand and nonprofit.

Image via