How Nonprofits Can Build a Strong Community Partnership

by Cameron Ripley  |   |  Strategy  |  0 comments

4 min to read ✭ This post breaks down top takeaways in how your nonprofit can build key strategic community partnerships with your region's top corporate and governmental entities to increase funding.

Insights from San Diego’s Top Community Partners and Funders

Recently, San Diego Nonprofit Association (SDNA), hosted the first of many interactive round-table Access to Experts event featuring some of San Diego’s top nonprofits and funders and discussed what it takes to build a long-lasting bridge between the two. The event was held at the bright and beautiful Junior Achievement of San Diego “Biz Town”.


The Panelist Included:

Nancy Sasaki, Executive Director, Alliance Healthcare Foundation

Danny Melgoza, Deputy Chief of Staff to Supervisor Greg Cox, County District 1

Sue Botos, VP Community Relations, San Diego Padres

Kelly Prasser, Manager, Outreach & Engagement, Sempra/SDG&E

Angie Lasagna, VP Community Relations, Mission Federal Credit Union

Neville Billimoria, Facilitator, SVP, Chief Advocacy Officer,  Mission Federal Credit Union


Key Takeaways On How a Nonprofit Can Create and Grow a Community Partnership that Increases Funding

Remember the Snowball Effect

  • As a nonprofit, building a community partnership with a large funder takes time.
  • It’s all about gaining traction – often you have to first get moving with a smaller partnership (often not funding related, ie. their staff volunteers with your org) and then your scope can scale with time.


It’s About Relationships

  • Some corporations, like SDG&E, receive upwards of 15,000 application requests for community funding every year. With that said, it’s about creating real relationships.
  • Know your audience. Understand their decision-making process. Are they a skeptic, are they data-driven, are they an emotional decision-maker, or are they an elected official who has earned their title (and you are not on a first-name basis with yet).


Build Trust

  • A recurring theme with all funders that can financially fuel your community partnership is that they must trust your organization and its work/impact.
  • Heads up! You will likely have to get through a gatekeeper.
  • Don’t just send in the annual reporting metrics, when things go well, or you have a positive story of your partnership, pick up the phone and share that with them.
  • Credibility is currency. Stay true to your word and your intentions with donations/grants given.


Data is King

  • Data isn’t a nicety, its an absolute necessity. You must prove your impact potential and ongoing impact.
  • Humanizing stories are important, but the majority of community funders are looking to make the largest, most scalable social impact possible, so tell this story through the numbers.
  • Be precise, incredibly accurate and get your numbers and data right.
  • If you can create 1 page infographic breaking down your data and sharing your impact, your org is ahead of the game.


Find Mission Alignment

  • Great partnerships go both ways and creating a long-term relationship with a corporate partner whose goals naturally pair well with your mission is key.
  • Do your homework. When looking for mission alignment don’t just base your decision on caring about the same social space. Research and know what your potential partner has actually done and is currently doing to make a difference.

Cameron Ripley

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