We were asked to compile a list of the best ways to find new partners for mission-driven businesses looking to increase their impact, while staying focused on their business. Rather than keep those creative ideas close to the vest, we wanted to share.
Talk to your competitors. It may not seem intuitive, but by collaborating around goals of mutual interest, you save time and money, and combine forces to address your goals together.
Find nonprofits that are working on similar goals. To access funding, nonprofits often need private sector partners to join forces. They are set up to receive funds that can be allocated to your business for social impact goal development and implementation.
Talk to donors. While traditionally donors have funded nonprofits exclusively, the tide is turning, and foundations want to fund businesses that are improving social impact in areas they care about.
Find speaking gigs. Even at local meetups, or larger conferences, the more you get your message out about the work you are doing to address social impact goals, the more opportunities for partnership and engagement will come your way.
Ask your customers to get involved. From simple cause marketing tactics (add $1 to the cost of your product for a specific social impact goal) to more crowdfunding type opportunities, customers want to support socially-minded companies.
Consider ways your product or service could be incorporated into bigger brands or entities’ impact strategies. Partnering with bigger, more powerful companies doesn’t mean you give up autonomy. It just means you can amplify your impact and focus on profitability. (partnership does not mean buyout!)
Understand what your suppliersare doing. There may be ways to join forces with suppliers around a particular social impact project or program.
Join groups like We Mean Business (climate change) the Climate Collaborative, membership programs around the Sustainable Development Goals or programs through trade associations.
Learn about a new geographical region that’s important to your brand. Finding local partners can help accelerate your brand and messaging.
Find a mentor to learn from and share ideas with. Having a sounding board outside of your organization will help promote creative new ideas and can be a great way to test new products.
Be open to creative partnering. You never know when a coffee meeting with a company that is considered different or unique can lead to bigger things.
Find a way to survey local communities in geographies of importance to your brand. By targeting your services and products to specific needs, you have better opportunities for sales.
Apply for awards. There are so many new types each day and often the application isn’t onerous. The rewards can be fruitful both for impact and financially.
Admit where you have shortcomings and consider which types of partners could help you fill in existing gaps both for impact and for advancing your sales.
Find a like-minded brand to co-host a social media campaign to promote your social mission and draw visitors to your website/online store.
Start local. Reach out to local nonprofits or community organizations to identify opportunities for volunteerism or employee giving back days.
Leverage employee interests in their causes of personal interest. Dedicate each week or month to a different employee cause. Raise money and determine collectively (or in concert with the cause) how it can be utilized to best promote social impact.
Our thanks to guest blogger, Joanne Soneshine of Collective Impact. To learn more about Joanne’s work, go to https://www.connectiveimpact.com
Please feel free to reach out about any of the work I do here or at InfoHive.
More hands make less work. Together we can accomplish all of it!
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