Shared Value 101 for NonProfits
I'm often asked why NonProfits should care about Shared Value, especially since this theory, created by Michael Porter at Harvard is at its core a business methodology.
The answer is simple: because to solve any of our major challenges, we must have all of our resources aligned. Corporate partners must bring the desire and resources to solve challenges at scale. Governments must create the policies that allow for smooth cooperation for corporate partners and non-profits and to ensure that the activities are truly enhancing society. Nonprofits, then, must bring the depth of knowledge and resources to the table to actually provide the solution.
I often see nonprofits still appealing to the premise of philanthropy or giving. While I'm glad that the option still exists, we all need to be aware that the conversations and approaches are changing in order to ensure we're adequately positioned for the future. See the Google Trends graph below, showing the searches related to Shared Value over Corporate Philanthropy:
Concerned that you might still be operating on the red line? Here are four signals that you may need to reconsider your approach with corporate sponsorship:
Your corporate sponsorship dollars are closely tied to one individual at the organization.
A business provides financial contribution, but does not provide board leadership, volunteer hours or pro-bono services that would be beneficial to the nonprofit
You're only calling them once per year for sponsorship dollars
You're not really sure how your work improves your partner's business
If you found that you weren't very happy with your answers, don't worry, you're not alone, and small adjustments can make a big difference. Here are a few ways to strengthen your corporate partnerships:
Ask. Understand why your partners support you, and how it aligns with their business.
Ask. Know what challenges are facing their business, and consider how you might provide solutions within the scope of your mission.
Ask. Stop asking for sponsorship dollars and start having longer-view conversations about how your organizations together can drive change in the community.
If you're ready to take this conversation to the next level and jump from the red track to the blue line, we are hosting another two-session workshop in November.