The Value of Partnerships


“Keep on Going” is one of the most memorable Energizer Bunny quotes since the batteries were introduced to consumers 31 years ago. And today, it also seems appropriate for brands seeking a successful passageway out of two major events, COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter. For the latter and some folks in Philadelphia, that path was #BringabroomPHL, a volunteer group formed to clean up the mess from protests and riots over the death of George Floyd.

An earlier article suggested that brands consider partnering with others, particularly nonprofits in their community, as a way of working toward mutual goals and strengthening each other at the same time. Many reports have pointed to consumers’ desire, especially Gen Z, in seeing brands take a more active role in those areas where they have a presence. Numerous possibilities are dependent on a company’s resources.

Partnerships offer the widest range of possibilities. This could include back-end support ranging from training to shipping and even some office work. Brands that advertise could help promote the nonprofit or be a program alliance partner. Companies could also become program partners by encouraging and permitting employees to volunteer during regular hours.

Storage with security is a common challenge for many nonprofits. Large companies with extra room could extend the use of space to a nonprofit that needs it. Access to the company’s heavy equipment and vans are a plus.

While this had been considered the easiest of partnerships, corporate sponsorships have more recently been combined with other collaboration aspects, especially employee volunteerism. Today’s consumers are wiser, and many realize that seeing a brand’s name attached to a sponsorship doesn’t mean as much as those whose employees also have a personal investment in the charity.

A company’s reputation is more important today than ever. Not only do consumers expect brands to operate responsibly and ethically, but new and younger employees who are replacing the retiring boomers also share these expectations. Putting together a successful relationship between the brand and a nonprofit serves both audiences and requires three major ingredients.

Like a strong marriage, paramount to any good relationship between a company and a nonprofit is trust. It must be mutual. And one of the bonds that will help keep it together is a clear and mutual understanding of each other’s values. Choosing the right partner is an important cornerstone.

Before agreeing to partner, be clear on expectations and goals with the nonprofit. This includes the nonprofit’s acknowledgment of the brand’s role and how it will be managed. Some nonprofits do not envision themselves as a corporation’s PR arms and believe it will erode their own reputation. Others are so thankful for the support that they would skywrite their thanks if they had the capability.

At the same time, be sure to understand the nonprofit’s expectations, especially if the partnership goes beyond financial support. If training, use of company volunteers, etc., are involved, the agreement must be something employees will also support and embrace. Likewise, reach an agreement on goals so progress on these can be shared with staff as well as the larger community.

Ronn Torossian

Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5WPR and one of the most well-respected Public Relations professionals in the United States. Ronn is the author of "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations."

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