Nonprofit leaders are increasingly realizing the latent power of corporate partnerships. Bill Shore founded and built one of the nation’s largest anti-hunger organizations. Share Our Strength (SOS), by rejecting what he calls the system of “setting for that tiny margin of the financial universe that consists of leftover wealth.“
He recognized that one more nonprofit competing for individual charitable donations, which make up over 90% of U.S. nonprofit funding, was likely to simply redirect funds from an existing nonprofit to his.
The net positive effect on hunger would be negligible.
Shore also knew that there were untapped sources of wealth, many of them corporate, waiting for the right oppportunity. Among Shore’s successses is enlisting Amercan Express in the early 1990′s — before cause marketing became ubiquitous and expected — in the Charge Against Hunger, in which AmEx donated three cents toward SOS for every use of an American Express card.
Another way SOS taps into corporate resources is through The Great American DineOut. Participating restaurants donate a percentage of revenue collecte during a designated DineOut week to SOS.
Research corroborates this contention that nonprofit-business partnerships can substantially augment the impact of the nonprofit organization. Research to identify the highest impact U.S. nonprofits and explain their successes found that one of the six practices that produced such results was that they “found ways to work with, and through, business to achieve more social impact.”
The power of businesses dwarfs the power of all efforts we have, thus far, dedicated to promoting the social good.
It is ludicrous not to leverage this for good.
It seems narrow minded to continue to confront hate crime, drug addiction, poverty, child abuse, obesity and the sobering long list of ills we face with one quarter of our collective might.
Yet that is what nonprofits do when they expect to receive their support from individual contributors, foundations and government. When it comes to using available resources to solve our most pressing societal problems, the status quo is grossly ineffective.
For more on this subject, see Bea Boccalandro’s paper: A Helping Hand or a Highjacking? How Nonprofits Can Respond to Ever-Increasing Corporate Involvement in the Community.