Business Development for Nonprofit organizations also known as social entrepreneurship, that is because non-profit organizations are not just fighting for a cause, they are actual businesses.
Their philanthropic, not-for-profit objectives need to be combined with for-profit, and enterprising skills in order for them to be able to make an impact.
Finding your fit in the current non-profit environment
Non-profits are in great numbers all over the world and are competing for government and philanthropic funds. If you are a business developer for a nonprofit organization, you have to first identify your competitors. The bright side of it is that quite a few for-profit businesses are looking to serve community needs in order to strengthen their reputation.
There is high stress on a wide array of community needs and increased emphasis on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Many big companies are insisting on demonstrating their corporate citizenship. This has led to mutual inspiration in the way they are doing business: for-profits are adding a social dimension to their core, while nonprofits are adopting a business approach.
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Non-profit business developer skills
In one of my previous posts, I was focusing on skills a for-profit business developer must have (see 7 Skills You Need to Be an Excellent Business Development Manager). This post is dedicated to the steps a successful business development specialist for the nonprofit organization should take, in order to meet his/ her objectives.
1. Develop mutually beneficial relationships with corporations.
A lot of corporations are eager to meet social and environmental standards, such as reducing environmental impact or improving the lives of low-income people. This in where you come in to forge mutually beneficial relationships with these corporations.
Following the same steps as a for-profit biz dev, you need to influence the economic decision-maker that has the authority to release funds. But before getting there, you will most probably have to build a strong relationship with a champion of your cause within the corporate world.
When you introduce your non-profit organization to the various decision-makers, make sure you highlight the NGOs accomplishments and the viability and effectiveness of the partnership. Be ready to show how the corporation of your choice might benefit from partnering up with you.
2. Engage your sponsor by showing their impact.
Your end goal as a non-profit biz dev is to amplify the impact of your organization. A sponsor will make a great deal of difference in helping you achieve this goal. The impact an organization and, indirectly, a sponsor corporation can cause, takes place on 3 levels:
Level 1: Making a real difference when partnering up.
This works both ways: a company won’t partner up with a non-profit organization if the relationship won’t add to its marketing, economic, and reputation goals.
Level 2: Touch and impact both the public and your sponsors through stories.
Stories serve 2 purposes: to receive funds and attention from outside organizations and, at an internal level, to facilitate the employee learning process and engaging them to your cause.
Level 3: Increasing brand awareness.
The same as a for-profit biz dev, your efforts are aimed at engaging corporations and sponsors to your mission, you work with businesses, cultivating relationships and identifying innovative ways to meet client needs.
3. Act based on what a company wants from their non-profit partner.
The end objective of a for-profit company is to maximize shareholder wealth, and their charity actions are also meant to serve this goal. While focusing on social benefit, they always keep in mind their business objectives.
4. Focus on local companies.
If you work an internationally renowned non-profit foundation, then it makes sense to go for the big for-profit business players.
But if your NGO is still in its developing stages, it is a good idea to start from developing your reputation within your local community, thus increase its brand reputation, which in turn leads to more recognition and, in the long term, increased sponsorship.
It might take time and effort to find a partner that suits your needs: big companies are probably bombarded with partnership proposals and they obviously can´t help everyone. So, make an effort to look for the less obvious choice and you’ll probably hit gold.
5. Be clear about your brand.
In order to have a successful strategy, just like a for-profit business, an NGO needs to have a clear idea of who they are and what they represent. It´s not about just being a charity, it’s about improving the world, helping, caring, empowering, protecting. Branding defines social goals and strengthens internal and external identity and is critical in creating partnerships and seeking donors. The clearer a non-profit is in its positioning, the greater the trust they will establish with its partners, beneficiaries and donors.
As a Business development specialist working for at Nonprofit organization, your interest is to attract not only external financing but also a talent for your organization and the trust of local and global authorities and policymakers.