While nonprofits can largely support themselves with the efforts of volunteers and contributions from major donors, one of the best ways that an organization can consistently bring in income is by pursuing corporate sponsorship.
It’s a mutually beneficial relationship. Corporations are finding that it’s more important than ever to establish their own values and take a stand on social issues. This goes both for stakeholders and employees, many of whom are attracted to companies that have a mission or cause that they support. For nonprofits, corporate sponsorship brings both visibility in the form of a partnership and an opportunity to bring in more stable funding options.
Make-A-Wish is no stranger to getting corporations involved in making wishes come true. The beauty of their sponsorship program is that they’ve partnered with companies that often are involved in their wish efforts, better facilitating common wishes from kids. For instance, one of the organization’s largest sponsors is Disney—and a great many wishes involve visits to one of the company’s parks or a cruise.
This touches on an important point, namely that corporate sponsorship should be done with regards to the goals of the nonprofit and have a value proposition beyond just monetary donations. The pro-bono assistance offered by Disney to support wish kids goes a long way, providing easy avenues to grant a large proportion of wishes.
However, a lot more goes into granting a wish than just the destination. About 77 percent of wishes involve travel, and Make-A-Wish has ongoing partnerships with many airlines, including American Airlines, Avis, JetBlue, and Southwest, to ensure that families reach their dream vacations. Also represented are hotel chains and cruise lines, all companies that can help with the logistic demands of planning trips for children.
They’ve also tried to build relationships with individuals that wish kids often want to meet. Outreach to sporting organizations has provided the connections necessary to secure kids meetings with sports stars such as prolific wish granter John Cena.
All of this points to the underlying question behind corporate aid: what does the nonprofit want, and how can the company help them get it? Legally, the benefit to the corporate sponsor can’t outweigh the benefit to the nonprofit, but mutual benefit is to be expected. In this case, the value proposition for Make-A-Wish includes a lot of the legwork and communications that goes into organizing a wish—every child’s wish is granted to the best of the organization’s ability, which means a lot of calls, a lot of work, but ultimately, a lot of happiness.
For Make-A-Wish, corporate partnerships are a key piece in a very important puzzle because of the value they add to their organization. Though not every nonprofit is created equal, leaders of these groups should consider corporate donors that align with their values and can potentially contribute to success in ways beyond just financial assistance.