Questions

What is the best way to approach nonprofits about partnership?

I have a side project that I've organized. It aims to help nonprofits to reach and engage their supporters and donors online. It is absolutely free for them. However, so far I couldn't find an optimal way to reach out to them. Any suggestions?

4answers

Having worked in a large non-profit, I'd need to know whether your product aligns with the mission and the goal priorities of our organization (the first hurdle). You might be surprised to know that non-profits get approached about being involved in a lot of things. Whether something is "free" or not, it still requires mission alignment, and staff time to consider and act on.

If I was hooked on it's ability to support the mission/our goals, I'd then need to evaluate the time to implement and upkeep (the second hurdle). The primary question in this setting is "Can we take action on it today without any additional cost and minimal staff time?" Effective non-profits are very mindful of scope creep. They want their staff to be working toward their respective goals as much as possible since the general public evaluates their effectiveness on money spent on programs/overhead.

Hope this helps you tailor your outreach!


Answered 4 years ago

I've spent my whole career in nonprofit management, and I cannot tell you how many offers just like yours came my way over the years. You are dealing with an overworked, underpaid, and highly distracted audience... and they are also very skeptical of anything free that promises great outcomes. We've all been burned too many times by pouring time and energy into tools that we saw as solutions ... only to realize that such tools are only effective if we have great relationships in place.

And so many of your target market's decision makers have developed a default "no" to anything like this. And the only way to get past that is to get to know them.

I currently have a fundraising consulting practice, focused on grantwriting for nonprofits. Almost every single one of my clients came as a result of a relationship that I had in place. I've closed almost no cold calls... and the ones I did were organizations that were advertising to hire a grant writer, so I knew they were in a position to hire me.

My best advice is therefore to focus on building genuine relationships with nonprofits thru which you can learn of their struggle. And then, you can pose your tool as a solution.

That ... and potentially contact the orgs that are advertising to hire staff whose duties mirror what you could provide (outreach, fundraising, etc). Position your service as an alternative to making that hire, or at least something they should consider integrating along with the new hire.

Good luck!


Answered 4 years ago

What you're doing has to align with their mission and goals.

You have to talk in their language, not yours. If they're about feeding the homeless, then that's how you should phrase how your service helps. If they're about spreading awareness of an issue, then that's what you talk about and frame your service to support.

An NPO is going to be concerned about you trying to borrow their credibility. They don't know you. They don't want to be associated with someone who could turn out to be bad. This is the trust hurdle you have to overcome.

So your service has to be marketed as useful specifically to them, and you have to be seen as not trying to leverage their credibility right off the bat.

I would look to develop more reasons why they should be excited to partner with you. One probably isn't enough.

This post about my own NPO experience may be helpful to you: http://www.salestactics.org/sales-for-npos/


Answered 4 years ago

You could partner with large organizations that serve nonprofits and community social impact groups such as Taproot Foundation, United Jewish Appeal (UJA) and United Way. Partnering with organizations such as these will vet your service and connect you with npo's. Good luck!


Answered 3 years ago

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