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  • Writer's pictureJustin Buck

Nonprofits and Small Businesses Unite!

Small businesses are the backbone of our communities. Nonprofits are our neighborhood problem-solvers. This week, I'm featuring a training webinar I presented with the Arkansas Small Business Technology Development Center (ASBTDC) on how small businesses and nonprofits can form strong partnerships to tackle community issues together-- whether that's responding to a crisis or building better hometowns every day.

Good Partnerships Make Sense - Match Your Brands!

Whether you're a small business looking for a nonprofit partner or a nonprofit looking for a small business partner, the partnership needs to make sense. Consider your mission and brand and seek out people attacking the same problems. Small business owners don't pour blood, sweat, and tears into their enterprise JUST to make money; they set out to solve a problem and meet an opportunity. Chances are, small business owners are spending money to define their brand and communicate it effectively. Get out there and find a partner in your very important work.

Good Partnerships Involve Clear Communication

Set your goals early and revisit them often. Not every partnership needs to escalate to the level of a memorandum of understanding or contract, but they can be helpful in laying out the goals and commitments. Nonprofits need to communicate impact clearly not only to their small business partners but to ALL stakeholders-- and often! Small businesses need to be clear about the goals for their partnerships, too. Who's your target audience, how do you want to co-brand and communicate, and how much do you want to invest? Speaking of...

Good Partnerships Involve Investment - That's a Two-Way Street!

What's the most effective way you can partner with a nonprofit as a small business owner? Donate your time AND resources. Volunteer projects are great ways to engage your team in the work of a nonprofit partner (and create great marketing collateral), but if that's the only way in which you're helping you could be costing that nonprofit money and subtracting from their mission work. Find ways to collaboratively raise funds by challenging your team to match a corporate donation, running a coordinated Facebook fundraising campaign, or leveraging your network to meet the nonprofit's needs. Don't forget the power of gift-in-kind donations! But don't forget, nonprofits, that our partnerships are two-way streets. We need to make sure we're addressing the business's needs and goals through our partnership work. Make that volunteer day with the team the CULMINATION of your work together and then develop those relationships with that powerful engagement tool.

Nonprofits are used to seeking out small businesses. We look for local coffee shops to keep our staff and volunteers caffeinated and pastry-ed up on project days. We seek out local printers to help us with direct-mail campaigns and event swag. But there's a big opportunity for us to link arms in even more meaningful ways, to collaborate in a way that makes sense for both brands, and to make a huge difference in our communities-- whether there's an economy-halting pandemic on our doorstep or not.

We're all facing big challenges right now. Claim your free one-hour consultation to tackle your organization's biggest obstacle with some actionable advice, not a sales pitch, by emailing me at

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