3 Essential Ingredients to Corporate Partnerships with Nonprofits

By jk@artofimpact.com | January 27, 2022

Time to remove boundaries and unlock potential

Like two star players who need each other to win the title, I have often seen corporate partnerships with nonprofits materialize from a place of necessity and self-interests – forging simple, transactional relationships delivering PR and marketing value for the business, short-term monetary needs for the nonprofit.

Facing a crowded planet with mounting challenges…disease, climate, poverty, the largest human migration in history, and more…it’s time to think bigger and act bolder. It is time for businesses and nonprofits to forge deeper connections and year-round solutions to tackle problems our increasingly polarized political climate cannot.

The solution to so many of our challenges is corporate partnerships with nonprofits. Successful partnerships carry the potential to tackle and solve individual and community problems effectively. Compassion takes courage. Acting brave and bold, now is the time to forge corporate partnerships with nonprofits that maximize impact and unlock potential.

Here are my (3) essential ingredients to successful corporate partnerships with nonprofits:

1. For Goodness Sake

One of my entrepreneurial mentors once told me if you “do the right things for the right reasons the economics often take care of themselves”. If you’re a business seeking to make meaningful, transformative change – don’t let the bottom line get in the way. The benefit will come, but it will be on the backend – the byproduct of your business nonprofit partnership – and it will be deeper, more meaningful, and exponentially more valuable. Successful partnerships are built on trust, so trust in your partner and dive in without reservation or red tape.

2. Tie & Align

Business and nonprofit must be strategically tied and aligned. A colleague of mine, Rob Kaplan, Founder and CEO of Circulate Capital, once emphasized to me the importance of successful corporate partnerships with nonprofits being strategically tied to the priorities of each company. There is power in pairs, but both parties tend to struggle on how to make business nonprofit partnerships effective. That is one of the reasons I created Art of Impact, to leverage my experience architecting over 350 brand partnerships, and learning what it takes to craft a successful corporate nonprofit strategy.

Each company is different in its journey and their approaches vary based on values, experience, team, which department is driving, etc. A successful corporate nonprofit strategy begins with a comprehensive diagnostic…both parties looking under the hood. We have helped our clients dig deep and search wide to identify the best strategic match for their business or nonprofit. It takes time. It takes focus. Over time, the tide will rise and business and nonprofits will become more knowledgeable in recognizing when and how they need partners, but to meet the demands of today, it’s important to capitalize on the opportunities that exist right now. Successful corporate partnerships with nonprofits have the potential to drive systemic change, improving customer lives and enhancing their communities. One goal, one strategy. Easy to say, hard to do.

3. 365° Execution

Once the right strategic match is made, the focus shifts to seamless, year-round execution. The most impactful business nonprofit partnerships we have helped identify and architect are not a flash in the pan, but stretch far and wide, and grow over time. They solve the problems of today and foreshadow the ones of tomorrow. It takes commitment and a recognition that the new relationship is going to be a work in progress, but the results are worth it and the world needs it now more than ever.


Over the past two decades, we have had the opportunity to craft impact-minded brand partnerships with lifestyle brands interested in going beyond the experiential marketing programs we helped execute at festivals to leaving a positive, lasting legacy on the communities in which they operate. I’ve always thought businesses need to think more like nonprofits, and nonprofits more like businesses. At Art of Impact, we have been fortunate enough to play matchmaker, architecting successful partnerships that stood the test of time and delivered unique, dynamic, exponential value to both parties.

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