Business relations, Part 2

By Todd Cohen

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Partnerships between corporations and nonprofits are increasing, with both groups seeking “mutually beneficial relationships,” says Kristian Darigan, vice president of cause branding at Boston-based Cone, a consulting firm.

Research by Cone shows that a growing number of consumers “want to see companies supporting causes they care about,” Darigan says. “So if cost, quality and service are equal, then commitment to a cause can be an extremely influential factor in their purchase decision, loyalty to the brand, and propensity to recommend the brand, product or service to others.”

What’s more, she says, if a company’s giving is focused, “it can lead to powerful community and business impact,” yielding more money to support the issue or nonprofit, and allowing the business to have “a simple message that can be repeated and that results in overall recognition of the partnership.”

And to set themselves apart in the face of growing competition in the charitable world, nonprofits also are taking a more “focused approach to communicating the need and impact of effort within a social issue,” she says.

“Corporations are selecting issues that align with their brand,” she says, “and nonprofits are now communicating more clearly what issues they stand for.”

Research by Cone also has found, for the first time, that seeing “the right corporate partnership with a nonprofit” makes it more likely that people will give to that nonprofit, buy products that benefit it, and think more highly of it.

Annual events are particularly effective vehicles for nonprofits, she says, not only because they generate corporate support, but also by serving as a “focal point” for a nonprofit’s message and an opportunity for people to learn about the nonprofit, meet its volunteers and staff, and understand and connect to its cause.

Other stories in the series:

Part 1: Nonprofits, corporations find value in each other.
Part 3: Nonprofits enjoy boost from corporate partnerships.
Part 4: Corporations see payoff from investing in nonprofit partnerships.

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