How to Build a Team of Dedicated Volunteers

Volunteers are an essential part of any cause-focused organization. They’re often the extra hands and feet that nonprofits and social enterprises need to make their mission succeed, especially in the early stages.

But building a team of dedicated volunteers isn’t easy. It takes a lot of hard work and a steady flow of communication to ensure that you’re getting what you need, while giving what they need in return.

This week’s post comes to us from Faitth Brooks, who manages social media for one of my clients, Be the Bridge, as well as serves as the Director of Women’s Empowerment for Legacy Collective. Both organizations have not only relied on volunteers to make their work happen, but entrusted volunteers with being ambassadors for their brand with great success.

Faitth knows a lot about organizing, engaging, and empowering volunteers, and I hope her wisdom will help you build your team as well.

 How to Build a Team of Dedicated Volunteers

In the nonprofit world there are numerous tasks that often cause employees to wear several “hats.” And if you’ve worked in the nonprofit sector, you know all about the hustle to save money and raise money in order to fulfill the mission and vision of your organization.

I've worked for nonprofits most of my career and I've learned that volunteers are invaluable to any organization. They give of their time and energy to work alongside staff members and help make everyone's job easier. It’s also common for nonprofits not to have the funds to hire a robust staff, especially small ones, so volunteers help fill in the gaps.

Many of you may be thinking, “Faitth, that’s nice, but how do I build a dedicated team of volunteers for my organization?” Well, I’m glad you asked because I’m going to tell you all about how I’ve done it over the years.

In order to maximize your time and energy, it’s essential that you build a committed team of volunteers. There are three important steps I’ve implemented in organizing volunteer teams, and I am going to share them with you today.

Step 1: Share The Vision

First, know the vision for your organization and articulate it to your volunteers. It’s important that the volunteers begin to embody the organizational culture and values in the same way the staff does. Your volunteers should be able to share the mission and vision of the organization to anyone who asks.

Hosting a training for the volunteers is essential, as well as developing a volunteer manual that states the mission and vision, expectations, and assigned tasks. The volunteer manual offers people a clear road map for how they will be utilized by your organization. When volunteers do not have direction, it’s easy to chart their own path away from the mission and vision of your organization.

Once training is complete, volunteers should shadow a staff member. It is important for the staff to model how to serve clients, respond to correspondence, and answer the phones. If your staff works remotely, the volunteer can be cc’d on correspondence, shadow you during video conference calls, and join collaborative projects to watch how the team operates together.

Step 2: Assign Specific Tasks

Second, assign your volunteers specific tasks. Have a list of the particular areas you need help with and instructions on how to accomplish those tasks. Volunteers need direction and they need to feel like they are making a valuable contribution to your organization. It's important to know what your volunteers have experience in so you can assign them to areas where they will thrive. You want your volunteers to feel empowered and excited to work with your organization!

Avoid making something up for them to do simply because you do not want to lose their help. If nothing is immediately available that is suited for them, honor their time and let them know that you will reach out again when you need help with another project.

Step 3: Communicate Regularly

Third, maintain open lines of communication and remain available to answer questions. Your availability as a leader will develop trust between you and the volunteer.

Also, establish regular meetings with your volunteers. They want to stay in the loop and feel included. Make sure you ask about their experience volunteering for your organization and what you could do better. Feedback from your volunteers is priceless because they have nothing to lose, and are more likely to tell you the truth about their experience working with your organization. This can go a long way in building and scaling your organization in the future.

Now, it's your turn to go and build a team of volunteers! Write your vision, create the manual, mobilize the people.


 Faitth Brooks

Faitth Brooks is the Director of Women’s Empowerment for Legacy Collective. She engages in community organizing and activism. Her passion makes her a relentless spokesperson for racial reconciliation.

Faitth is also a social media strategist for Be The Bridge, and a blogger who writes at Faitthbrooks.com. You can find her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter @FaitthB.



PIN THIS POST FOR LATER:

  Building a team of dedicated volunteers isn’t easy. It takes a lot of hard work and a steady flow of communication to ensure that you’re getting what you need, while giving what they need in return.

 Kristi Porter, founder of Signify

I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing and consulting services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing, and business communications. I also teach solopreneurs and small businesses how to incorporate philanthropy and giving strategies. I believe that cause-focused organizations are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.


The Four Missing Pieces of Your Partner/Sponsor Presentation

Partnering with a small business—is it on your organization’s bucket list? It is for many small nonprofits and social enterprises. But it also seems a little elusive, doesn’t it?

First, you have to find the right potential partner. Then, you have to do a little wooing and a little schmoozing. After that, you might just secure your invitation to present your cause to the decision-makers.

It’s no small accomplishment making it this far! But finally, you’re in the room. So, what do you say?

Whether you’re seeking funding, in-kind-services, volunteers, or something else, there could be a lot riding on this meeting, both in the short and long-term. So, you certainly want it to go well.

If you’ve presented to a small business before, I’d urge you to dust off your presentation to look for the errors below. If this is your first time, consider it a head’s up.

Avoid these mistakes to have your potential partners and sponsors jumping at the chance to say, “YES!”

 The 4 Missing Pieces of Your Partner-Sponsor Presentation

Missing Piece #1: Your Potential Partner

Is it possible that you’ve gone and made the whole presentation about you? That’s a common mistake.

Maybe you’re nervous, and all you can think of is you. Maybe you think you have something to prove. Maybe you want to adequately make your case. Maybe you’re just so darn excited about your organization that you can’t wait to share it.

All of those are perfectly normal, but while you’re fine-tuning your pitch, be sure to bring your potential partner or sponsor into the mix as well.

Don’t just let them see your mission. Let them see themselves in it.

Missing Piece #2: The Customization

Building on #1, I’d encourage you not to simply cut and paste your last presentation. Sure, many of the same elements will be included. But, where possible, tailor it to the people in the room. And I don’t just mean replacing the last guy’s logo with another one.

I always think it’s good to include both a mix of stats and stories. So, is there new research to support this potential partner or sponsor being involved? Is there a story that fits with the mission of the company? Is there something you’ve seen this business say or do that should be included?

Where can you edit a presentation to make it look like it was created for their eyes only? This kind of customization shows that you value them and their time. And it demonstrates that they are the perfect partner or sponsor for the need at hand.

Missing Piece #3: Your Confidence

Are you desperate for this help? Don’t show it! I know this can be very hard. I’ve been there myself—plenty of times.

But people don’t often give to desperation, unless it’s due to something like a natural disaster or tragedy. Otherwise, it can be a little scary for those at the opposite end of the table to realize all your hopes and dreams rest on them. Unless they have a savior complex, they may run in the other direction if you let them know that they are your Plan A, B, and Z.

If their decision is the make it or break it kind, it’s a lot of pressure to put on them. And, like individuals, companies want to give where they feel their money/services will be safe and best utilized.

So, what’s the alternative? Ask out of confidence. You undoubtedly have a lot to bring to the table, so put your best foot forward. Even if you really are desperate, make a list of the ways you benefit this company, what you do well, and the people you serve. I have no doubt it’s a great list, so let it inspire you as you make your “ask.”

Cause marketing (where for-profits team up with non-profits) is only growing, and that works in your favor. It’s possible this company has been waiting for someone like you!

Missing Piece #4: The Relationship

Listen closely, because this is the most important part. Unless you are just looking for a one-off favor or check, this is the part you can’t skip: the relationship.

The key piece of your presentation is the conversation that happens before and after the projector turns on and off. No amount of beautifully-designed slides will ever replace the dialogue between you and your potential partner or sponsor.

Don’t have designer on staff? This should be great news!

Take the time to cultivate this relationship for long-term success. Get to know the company and the people behind it. How can your mission enrich their efforts? They want to make an impact, too. It just might look different.

After the check’s in the mail, how can you continue to nurture the relationship for the future?

Not only is it easier to retain previous partners/sponsors rather than finding new ones, but building an engaged and dedicated partner could have significant, long-term effects for both of you.

I’m definitely an advocate of a good-looking presentation, but more than that, I’m an advocate of building relationships.

So, don’t leave these four pieces out of your next partnership or sponsorship presentation. They could just mean the difference between a yes and a no.


 

Need a ready-to-edit presentation perfect for your next partner or sponsor meeting?

Bundle includes presentation template, talking points and content guide, customization tips, and a getting started video!

 


PIN THIS POST FOR LATER:

 Partnering with a small business—is it on your organization’s bucket list? It is for many small nonprofits and social enterprises. But it also seems a little elusive, doesn’t it?  Avoid these mistakes to have your potential partners and sponsors jumping at the chance to say, “YES!”

 Kristi Porter, founder of Signify

I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing and consulting services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing, and business communications. I also teach solopreneurs and small businesses how to incorporate philanthropy and giving strategies. I believe that cause-focused organizations are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.


How to Give Back With Your Small Business

Over the summer, I had the desire to be more charitable with Signify. It’s generally a slower season, and that gave me a little more capacity to think about how I wanted to utilize my business to give back to the “do good” community at large.

You might look at a small business like mine think that philanthropy is very easy for me, given that my service offerings and products are primarily built for cause-focused organizations. And in some ways, that’s true. But I’m also a solopreneur still in the early stages of my business. So, it’s not like I can take off every week to volunteer or send out large checks on a regular basis.

If you’re a fellow startup, entrepreneur, or small business, you probably understand the dilemma.

Still, I knew there were ways to capitalize on the summer months if I was creative. I wanted to give more than the occasional volunteer hours or one-off check here and there. And I knew that the fall would be incredibly busy, so this was going to be a short-term effort.

So, I looked around at what I had to give and who I wanted to serve, and formulated a plan.

 How to Give Back With Your Small Business

The Good News About Charitable Giving For Small Businesses

In my current work at Signify, as well as my many years of volunteering for and working in nonprofits, I’ve learned a lot of things. But one of the chief take-aways is that small organizations can use anything you have to give.

That is fantastic news for solopreneurs and small businesses who want to be more charitable. Only have a little to give? No problem!

Whether it’s a few volunteer hours, small donations (regular or now and again), or some other in-kind service, it will be put to good use by those with limited resources. Plus, you’ll get to participate in the causes that you care about! And, if that wasn’t enough, you’ll get to build personal relationships with the people solving problems that matter to you.


This Solopreneur’s Solution

As I mentioned, I formulated a workable plan for my summer giving. I decided that dishing out free marketing advice was the best thing I could offer. After all, standing in the gap for nonprofits and social enterprises who don’t have a marketing department was the reason I created Signify in the first place. So, my time and expertise was the most valuable commodity I had to give.

I held what I called “office hours,” which were set consultation hours during the week that any purpose-driven organization (for- or non-profit) could sign up for. There was no cost and no pitch for working with me afterward. It was just a chance to get their marketing and communications questions answered, or get feedback on their current efforts.

It was a lot of fun, and I ended up meeting some awesome people. I learned about new organizations, and was able to build new relationships and strengthen existing ones. Additionally, it was like a thousand degrees in Atlanta, and didn’t require me to leave my house, ha! ;)


How Will You Give Back With Your Business?

For my fellow entrepreneurs, startups, and small businesses, I hope I’ve given you some inspiration in beginning your own philanthropic journey. I’m proof that being charitable doesn’t have to be hard. And it doesn’t have to cost you a lot of time or money. But I promise, to those you end up helping, it will be extremely valuable!

If you’d like some direction on how you can be more giving with your business, I’ve written a four-step plan over at Honeybook/The Rising Tide Society. There, I’ll walk you through the stages of how to add philanthropist to your job title.

Download the free worksheet to walk you through giving back with your small business! (No opt-in required!)

 


PIN THIS POST FOR LATER:

 For my fellow entrepreneurs, startups, and small businesses, I’m proof that being charitable doesn’t have to be hard. And it doesn’t have to cost you a lot of time or money. But I promise, to those you end up helping, it will be extremely valuable!

 Kristi Porter, founder of Signify

I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing and consulting services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing, and business communications. I also teach solopreneurs and small businesses how to incorporate philanthropy and giving strategies. I believe that cause-focused organizations are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.


6 Mistakes to Avoid When Partnering With a Small Business

So, you’ve landed that coveted partnership or large sponsorship with a small business. Feels great, doesn’t it? It’s a goal for many nonprofits and social enterprises, and if you’ve made it this far, you’re ahead of the curve.

However, securing the relationship shouldn’t be your goal. You need to work at making it successful…for both of you. By doing so, you’ll ensure a long-lasting relationship, and it will give you the confidence and reputation needed to repeat the process.

A successful partnership with a small business can lead to more money, more volunteers, a larger network, and much more. Plus, it gives you other people who will champion your cause.

Last week, we talked about the mistakes that small businesses should avoid when partnering with nonprofits. Today, we’ll chat about the mistakes you should avoid on your side of the relationship. Because not only should you play your role in making the partnership a success, but ultimately, it’s the only thing you can control.

 6 Mistakes Nonprofits Should Avoid When Partnering With a Small Business

Mistake #1: Don’t Explain the Benefits to the Small Business

Even the most generous of sponsors and partners have to ask themselves at some point, “What’s in it for me?” This isn’t rude or crass. It’s natural when thinking about entering into this kind of relationship. After all, they have a business to run.

Philanthropy often comes out of excess resources, whether that’s time, money, or something else. Businesses need revenue to keep their doors open and their lights on. So, while they often want to give out of the kindness of their hearts, they also realize that giving back is good for business.

So, be proactive and answer their question. Don’t let it be a distraction or guesswork on their part. This may only become a nagging feeling that grows as time passes.

Try to include both altruistic and practical answers. Altruistic options may be things like goodwill or higher employee engagement. Practical ideas could include press opportunities, showing off their logo on your website, or even single points of contact for streamlined communication. Think about what you can do to make the partnership intentional and beneficial.

Mistake #2: Don’t State Exactly What Your Nonprofit Needs

I get it. Having this kind of sponsorship or partnership within your grasp is incredibly tempting. And it’s easy to just accept whatever the business wants to offer you, even if you don’t need it.

However, you have to think of your organization first. If someone offers to create a new website for your nonprofit, for example, but you had a redesign done a year ago, don’t accept it just because it’s handed to you on a silver platter.

If a small business approaches you to partner, leave no room for ambiguity. Ask for exactly what you need. At times, there may be a compromise or alternative you hadn’t thought of, which is another great solution. But if they are only willing to give something you don’t need, this won’t serve you well in the end. And, honestly, other than getting your organization’s name on their resume, it won’t serve them well either.

The goal is to create a partnership or sponsorship that benefits you both, and one you’ll want to continue into the future.

Mistake #3: Don’t Follow-Through on Your Commitment

This advice requires me to dish out a little tough love. Nonprofits are especially understaffed and under-resourced. But, if you make a promise—keep it.

There may be all kinds of fancy benefits you list on a sponsorship or partnership package or presentation. I know you want to do everything you can to sweeten the deal.

But for the sake of your organization and the company you’re talking to, don’t include anything you don’t think you can follow through on. Broken promises can cost you much more than a relationship.

Even if you feel like you don’t have a lot to offer, keep it simple. Follow-through. And over deliver.

Be an nonprofit or social enterprise that keeps their word.

Mistake #4: Keep the Partnership a Secret

This mistake builds on a little of what we’ve already talked about, but in general, one of the best things you can do for your corporate partners is talk about them. It’s a fine line for them to do it themselves. They want to do good—and shout it from the rooftops—but they also don’t want to come across as sleazy or exploitive. So, this is something you can help them with.

Use your email campaigns, social media, and events to talk about what an awesome partner they are, and all they’ve done for you. This is also an easy way to get them to stick around.

Side benefit: It may also encourage other small businesses to work with you as well. It’s always encouraging and comforting to see a proven path to success.

Mistake #5: Ignore Those Bad Vibes

I’m not much of a “woo woo” person, but I do believe in intuition. And as I mentioned in last week’s post, I had to let go of a client that I knew better to work with in the first place. From the initial conversation, I knew this organization wasn’t going to be a good fit, even though they seemed like an ideal client on paper.

But I made excuses, thought it would get better, and jumped in anyway. And things went bad quickly. It was two very long months of working together before I decided to let them go. Meaning, it definitely wasn’t worth the money!

So, learn from my mistake. Don’t ignore those bad vibes! If things feel off in those initial conversations, don’t establish the partnership. It will likely be more trouble than it’s worth.

Even if your nonprofit or social enterprise is desperate, this company will almost certainly not be your answer. After all, if they can’t deliver on their promises, end up taking more time than you have to give, or deplete your man power or energy, you could end up worse off than you started. It would’ve been better to stay away and find a better corporate partner to begin with.

Finding the right company will be worth waiting for!

Mistake #6: Start With a Large, Make-It-Or-Break-It Project

It’s always best to start small, and with several conversations. Don’t rush into a partnership. Hopefully, there will be plenty of potential for a long-term relationship, but it doesn’t have to start that way.

Test the waters to see if it’s a good fit for both of. Make sure you can each hold up your end of the bargain, and build on that success.

Beginning with a big project, especially one where there’s a lot riding on it, will add unneeded stress and pressure. While it may work out for the better, I just don’t recommend it.

Instead, start with a small win. That will create a strong foundation.


 

PSST: We’ve also built a sponsor presentation template if you need help getting started!

It’s customizable and easy-to-use, so all you have to do fill in your info and schedule the meeting!

 


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 A successful partnership between your nonprofit or social enterprise and a small business can lead to more money, more  volunteers , a larger network, and much more. Plus, it gives you other people who will champion your cause.

 Kristi Porter, founder of Signify, supporting cause-focused organizations

I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing and consulting services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing, and business communications. I also teach solopreneurs and small businesses how to incorporate philanthropy and giving strategies. I believe that cause-focused organizations are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.


6 Mistakes to Avoid When Partnering With a Nonprofit

I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with the leader of a nonprofit that I’d long admired. And while I loved hearing about their mission, their work, and their successes, it was one of their failures that stuck with me: a failed partnership.

To be completely frank, it wasn’t the nonprofit’s fault. It was the small business that tried to work with them. And it’s a story I’ve heard before from others. Sadly, it probably won’t be the last time either.

There are a lot of well-meaning people in small businesses with big hearts. And I’m deeply grateful and encouraged when I hear about for-profits partnering with nonprofits. It’s a wonderful thing, and honestly, it’s good for business.

However, if small businesses aren’t careful, they’ll do more harm than good because they’ll not only ruin the relationship, but pre-burn the bridge for others wanting to do the same in the future.

So, before you begin to think about building that partnership, let me give you the inside scoop on what a lot of nonprofits are looking for, and some pitfalls to avoid.

 Before you begin to think about building a nonprofit partnership, let me give you the inside scoop on what a lot of nonprofits are looking for, and some pitfalls to avoid.

Mistake #1: Push Your Agenda Instead of Filling the Nonprofit’s Need

Let me just cut to the chase—this is often the culprit. In fact, it’s what happened in the example above.

While it is absolutely true that you should get something out of the relationship as well, you should approach the nonprofit with a genuine desire to serve. You need to try to understand their needs, and see where you can fill a gap.

Having an outside perspective is invaluable. It’s the reason I often get hired for projects as well. It’s a tremendous thing to step back and look at a situation or organization in an entirely new way for someone. So, that should not be overlooked.

However, if you reach out to a nonprofit with a list of things they “need,” but they don’t want any of them, this partnership is in trouble before it ever gets off the ground. And no amount of pushing what you have to offer on them is going to help.

You may be a videographer who sees the need for a new promo video on their website, but if they’d rather have someone film their annual gala, start there. Yes, there may be times when you can show them something they might not have otherwise seen, but a lot of broken partnerships are the result of a business telling a nonprofit what they need, the nonprofit accepting helping they don’t actually want, and no one being happy in the end.

Mistake #2: Leave the Details and Commitment Level Out of the Conversation

Everyone likes friends who constantly RSVP maybe and pop in and out of their lives at the most inconvenient moments?

That’s a big, fat no.

Spontaneity has it’s time and place for sure, and everyone loves surprises now and again, but leave them out of the nonprofit / small business partnership. Or, at least most of the time.

It can be a scary thing for a nonprofit to let someone new into their flow, especially those working on highly-sensitive issues. So, do them a favor and let them know how you plan to show up for them.

This doesn’t have to mean a huge commitment. Just be clear about what you can, and can’t do, and when you can, and can’t, do it. It’s that simple. Open lines of communication mean everything.

Your time is precious, but so is theirs. Take the time to outline exactly what this partnership will look like. That benefits you both.


Mistake #3: Don’t Follow-Through On Your Commitment

Can we just all agree that life happens? I know that, you know that, and so do the people you want to partner with.

It’s not always fun, and it’s not always easy, but sometimes circumstances change. If that happens, the best thing you can do is to communicate that to your nonprofit partner. Give an explanation, and notice (when possible), but don’t just disappear.

We have this crazy, new term we’ve all adopted over the past couple of years called “ghosting.” If you aren’t familiar with this concept, it’s pretty clear from the use of the word, but it’s when someone just vanishes from your life. Typically, this word is used in the date-osphere, but it applies here, too.

A leader at a social enterprise told me about someone who did this to them. This woman showed up out of the blue, promised them the moon, got consent from the organization, took what she wanted, and then was never seen or heard from again.

Ugh.

Can we all also agree how gross this is? Please, under any circumstances, do not do this to anyone—ever—but especially my friends at nonprofits. It’s a small world, so burning one bridge may just cause a wildfire you can’t put out. Plus, it’s just insanely rude and causes me like me to write posts like this.

Be honest and be respectful. You’ll probably get the same in return.

Mistake #4: Keep Your Nonprofit Partnership a Secret

Okay, I get that this statement may be kinda strange to include here, but I’m a marketer, so it’ll makes sense in a moment.

Hopefully, you don’t want to partner with a nonprofit solely for the publicity, but no one’s going to deny that it’s not a benefit. As I mentioned before, it’s also good for business.

However, I also get it can feel weird or braggy to talk about it. But that’s good. It means you care! So, show it off, but in a way that feels right for you. (PS: I can help you figure that out! :)

My guess is that you’re partnering with the nonprofit because you are excited about their work, so talk about that. Guess what? The nonprofit would love that, too!

I was just reading in Philanthropy News Digest that companies give the least amount to charitable causes each year, when compared to individuals and foundations. They said, “And last comes corporations — a surprise to many observers, who, given the dominant position of the private sector in the U.S. economy, no doubt assume that businesses play a far greater role in philanthropy.”

Given the potential for philanthropy, I would love to help change that fact. And one way I think we can do that is by helping those who are giving to talk about it more. People like me and the media can highlight giving and partnerships more, but it’s also up to you to talk about it. Encourage your peers (and competition) to give, and watch the goodness spread.

Yes, this should be done in a way that both parties feel good about, but the point is—it should be done. Say it loud and proud, my friend! Giving back is the new black!

Mistake #5: Move Forward, Even Though You Got Bad Vibes

I’m not an overly “woo woo” kind of person, but I do absolutely believe in intuition. And I had a client that I ultimately had to let go of because I didn’t listen to my Spidey sense during our initial meeting.

Yes, I want you to partner with a nonprofit, but does that mean you have to partner with the first one you come across? Nope. You’ve got over 1.5 million to choose from here in the US alone, so you can be a little picky, if needed.

My former client was perfect on paper. Ideal, as we marketers say. I was really excited to sit down and have coffee with him. But in a few minutes time, I should’ve known better. We weren’t communicating well, and I felt like I was just repeating myself. He also just seemed more interested in hearing himself talk more than hearing what I had to say. But I made excuse after excuse in my head as to why I felt that way, and moved forward anyway. It was for a small project and wouldn’t eat up much of my time—or so I thought.

Ever been there?

This “little” client ended up being a lot more than I bargained for. He asked for favors and discounts, had me repeat the same conversations over again, and contacted me on weekends and evenings unnecessarily. So, after about a month or so, I had to tell him I was not going to be the right fit for him. It was a hard lesson to learn, and many of you probably know what I’m talking about.

So, while partnering with a nonprofit is a wonderful thing, make sure it’s the right fit. If you get a bad vibe, it’s time to exit stage right.

Mistake #6: Start with Large Projects and Little Details

If by now, you haven’t started to see that partnering with a nonprofit is somewhat like dating them, let me clue you in here. Many of the same principles apply!

Build your partnership like you would build any relationship. Start small, and with a conversation.

This partnership should be mutually-beneficial and clearly communicated. That’s what is best for both of you, and it will help ensure success, even if it’s only a short-term project.

Nonprofits are often in desperate need of additional support, whether it’s financial or through something like volunteering. So, in that case, they may feel the need to jump in with you and take anything you offer. But that doesn’t always mean that’s what should happen.

Be sure to have a couple of conversations before starting any work to make sure you’re both on the same page. And, even then, try a small project to start. Once you leap into the trenches together, you’ll be able to see if this partnership is what both of you wants.

If not, say thanks and try again with another organization. If so, you’ll have the time of your life making positive change on behalf of a worthy cause. It could be just the thing your business—and life—was missing.


What questions do you have about partnering with nonprofits?

Nonprofits, next week I’ll talk about how you can be a better partner for small businesses, so stay tuned!



PIN THIS POST FOR LATER:

 Before you begin to think about building a nonprofit partnership, let me give you the inside scoop on what a lot of nonprofits are looking for, and some pitfalls to avoid.

 Kristi Porter, founder of Signify

I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing and consulting services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing, and business communications. I also teach solopreneurs and small businesses how to incorporate philanthropy and giving strategies. I believe that cause-focused organizations are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.