How Businesses and Nonprofits Can Work Together to Create Win-Win Partnerships
The Princeton Mercer Regional Chamber is grateful for the support of both the business community and the nonprofit community, and their support of worthy causes. We truly see the magic happen when businesses and nonprofits form mutually beneficial partnerships that make a difference in the communities they serve.
We spoke with Meredith Murray, Vice President of External Affairs at Princeton-Blairstown Center, about how such a partnership can benefit both sides and the keys to success. The Princeton Mercer Regional Chamber can play an important role in building these relationships.
“We often look to connections that our board members have through the chamber,” Meredith said. “We’ve found that partnerships tend to be more effective when there’s an internal champion. For instance, our relationship with Janssen started years ago when a board member at the time who works at Janssen made a connection. We’ve cultivated that partnership over the years and have programs that align with Janssen’s corporate social responsibility priorities.”
Direct Engagement Between Businesses and Nonprofits
Financial support from corporations and local businesses in the form of sponsorships, grants, and matching donations is obviously important to sustaining and growing nonprofit programs and services. However, direct involvement of people at all levels of a company makes it possible to build close relationships and a greater understanding of the nonprofit’s mission and impact.
“Nonprofits like to engage,” Meredith said. “It's an opportunity for us to explain to a wider audience who we are and show them what we do. In that sense, a company or a department within a company can come together for a volunteer day, work on a project that benefits the nonprofit, and enjoy the bonding experience.”
At the same time, nonprofits can introduce businesses to new audiences by promoting the fact that a business sponsored an event, provided a grant for a specific program, stepped up with matching donations for a fundraising campaign, or volunteered to complete a project or achieve a goal. Just as importantly, nonprofits can share real-world stories of impact that show how a company’s support is making a difference.
Joining the Board
Nonprofit board members are often professionals who can provide nonprofits with access to skills, knowledge, and resources. Expertise ranging from legal and accounting to event planning and plumbing can be of tremendous value to nonprofits, especially smaller nonprofits with limited resources.
“We are always looking for board members, and I think we're not alone in that,” Meredith said. “We work with Nonprofit Connect to train potential board members. That's a symbiotic relationship in that a business or individual can receive training, and Nonprofit Connect matches nonprofits with trained board members. It’s definitely valuable to have a board member who knows what to expect and understands their role and responsibilities from day one.”
Many nonprofits have also created boards specifically for young professionals to learn about board service and how they can benefit personally and professionally. Businesses can provide young employees with opportunities to expand their skillset while instilling a service mindset. Ideally, they will share the skills and resources gained over the course of their career with nonprofits that align with their values and passions.
Making Partnerships Work
While businesses benefit from awareness of their philanthropic efforts, and nonprofits benefit from financial support, resources, and direct engagement with businesses, the first step is to find the right match in terms of culture and values.
“Understanding the values of each organization is important,” Meredith said. “One reason why we align with Janssen and NRG is that we educate young people about STEM topics and environmental education, both of which are priorities for these companies. That kind of fit shows that they support Princeton-Blairstown Center because the work we do means something to them. It makes them feel good to support our mission.”
Princeton-Blairstown Center also relies on board members to spread the word about their organization to people they know.
“We’ve created a ‘circle of influence’ activity, which encourages board members to think about people in their spheres of influence who might be interested in learning more about what we do,” Meredith said. “That could be a company, a community group, or an individual who can attend an event or engage in some way, which creates a deeper relationship with our organization.”
Meeting Increased Demand for Nonprofit Services
During the pandemic and unstable economic times, many businesses have considered adjusting their budgets and tightening their belts. Nonprofits are in the same position. However, demand for nonprofit services and programs, especially those that fill the most basic, essential needs, typically spikes during difficult times.
“Nonprofits rely on the support of local businesses to continue providing much-needed services,” Meredith said. “Funding, volunteering, skills, and resources from the business community are crucial to nonprofits. It may seem like a new philanthropic organization is coming to you each day asking for help, but that’s because your support is truly needed – and appreciated.”
Making Connections Through Your Chamber
Every Princeton Mercer Chamber event is an opportunity to make new connections in the business and nonprofit communities. We encourage you to check out our community calendar to learn more about networking events, educational programs, and nonprofit events. You can also search our member directory to find potential partners that align with your organizational values and culture!