by Bruce Simpson and Talia Varley
In today’s ESG-focused world, there is no taboo about corporations seeking advice and partnership opportunities with nonprofits. Unfortunately, many corporations don’t know where to start. What contact they have had with nonprofits has usually been through their corporate giving or corporate social responsibility programs. Three main opportunities exist for collaboration: using nonprofits to support product launches, going to market through a company’s nonprofit arm, use nonprofits to help form coalitions with other companies
Fifteen years ago, if Goldman Sachs went looking for financial advice, a small, green nonprofit might be the last place it looked. Today, the firm and a host of other Wall St. giants don’t think twice about partnering with JUST Capital, a nonprofit that provides third-party data, tools, and insights to help measure and improve corporate performance on stakeholder and ESG issues.
The partnership is part of a growing trend in which for-profit firms are finding value in partnering with ESG-minded nonprofits they once may have shunned. And why not? The very best nonprofits have much to teach corporations. They have a purpose-driven focus that permeates their DNA — something corporations are increasingly seeking out for themselves.
Nonprofits also have constant dialogue and connection with their stakeholders, and effectively engage their boards. In contrast many corporations struggle in these areas. Only 20% of organizations believe they successfully communicate their strategy to a broad set of external stakeholders. And only 60% say that their boards understand their core technology and business model. In light of these challenges, nonprofits provide skills, experience, and partnership opportunities corporations could tap into on their ESG journey.