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Achieve more benefits than you can possibly imagine through cross-sector partner

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Part 11 from the Win-Win for the Greater Good series

From my experience, most people and the organizations they represent begin their exploration of a partnership with a fairly limited list of partnership goals. Usually the “ask” is fairly simple and straightforward. The nonprofit might approach a for-profit organization for a donation to a particular project or program, or to sponsor a table at their annual fundraising gala. The for-profit organization may be seeking to raise the morale of its employees by arranging a one-day event where the employees would volunteer at a local homeless dining room or shelter. The misconception here is that cross-sector partnerships are not about philanthropy, cash donations, “one day and done” volunteer events, or sponsorships such as a breast cancer 3-day event or pledge walk. By definition, a partnership is a relationship. Many times there are contractual stipulations, but in nearly all cases, the partnership is based on a relationship meant to be long-term, jointly beneficial with many linkages.

In my workshops, participants are asked to write down all the benefits they think a nonprofit organization can receive by working with a for-profit organization in a partnership. Then we flip the exercise around, and they write down all the benefits they think a for-profit organization can receive by working in partnership with a nonprofit organization. And what I have found is startling.

To the question of how many distinct benefits a nonprofit can receive from partnering with a for-profit organization, the answer is, at least as of this writing: 31 distinct benefits. And to the question of how many benefits a for-profit organization can receive in a partnership with a nonprofit organization: 38 distinct benefits. That is one heck of a lot of benefits for each partner to receive in a partnership. However, what surprises my workshop attendees the most is the fact that for-profit organizations can potentially receive more benefit than can nonprofits. Most people think it would be the other way around.

These benefits are the real “secret sauce” of my work. There is an extraordinary amount of benefit that can be achieved by all partners in a well-designed, trusting, objectives- driven, cross-sector partnership. This has been proven so often over the last 35 years that I can make the following statement with absolutely no reservations:

There is nothing in business today that provides as much economic and social benefit, on as many levels, to as many stakeholders, as a strategic partnership between any combination of the nonprofit, for-profit education or government sectors when that partnership is focused on the greater good. Nothing else comes even close.

An innovative public relations program, the most clever social media campaign, the funniest or most emotional advertisement, the deepest discount or the biggest sale, the largest benefit race or the most successful fundraising gala - none of these can come even close to the multiple benefits that come from a cross-sector partnership.

Rather than detail all 31 nonprofit benefits and the 38 for-profit benefits here, in the next part I’m going to list the 10 most important ones, at least in my opinion, from each category. The complete listing of all 69 benefits can be found in the free online Resource Center at www.bruceburtch.com. By the way, you may be able to add even more benefits for either list, and I ask you to email me personally with your discoveries.

Please visit www.bruceburtch.com for more information and to view Win-Win for the Greater Good.

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