Seven Tips for Building a Nonprofit Parnership Network

by: Stephanie Adair, Marketing & Communications Coordinator

Nonprofit Partnership Networks are creating a lot of buzz as of late – and with good reason. Just like for-profit business partnerships, all sides mutually benefit from working together. Not only do these partnerships get the job done, but they also provide more brand exposure and credibility for your organization. 


However, landing the deal can be an intimidating task. Where do you even start? Determining the best candidates for a potential partnership requires a lot of work and insight, but the benefits are worth it in the end. Here are seven tips for building a non-profit partnership network:

Make Your Name Known

Companies and organizations won’t be interested in collaborating with you if they don’t know who you are. Make sure your non-profit has a known, credible reputation and easily assessable information (like a website) about your mission and those involved. With the help from a few marketing campaigns on social media and in your local community, others will start to take notice. This will promote a baseline of trust, which in turn, will make companies more open to any potential dealings with your non-profit.

Evaluate Internally

If you are truly interested in building a partnership network, you must first decide what aspects of your non-profit can be improved by it. Analyze every aspect of your organization. Would it benefit from a specialized software? Could an integral part of your operations benefit from outsourcing? This will give you a starting point for pursuing potential partners. Once you have identified an area that could be aided by partnership, you can proceed to the next tip.

Engage in Recon

Aligning with partners typically requires some research. Look for companies that could easily provide you with the help you need. This could be another non-profit, a for-profit company, or even your local government. Larger operations should be reliable and efficient, but you might have trouble getting their attention. On the other hand, smaller companies will be looking for an opportunity to grow, but their service might not be as polished. Consider the size, quality, and strategies of each potential partner before aligning to make a deal. Additionally, evaluate the individuals at the top – those who you will be conversing with if you decide to move forward with them. It’s important to ensure every aspect of the deal is a good fit for both parties.

Make Connections

Whether you are for-profit or non-profit, you’ve surely heard this before: network, network, network. Making connections will always be beneficial to your organization. Interacting online (though Facebook, Linked In, etc.), and through local networking events, expands your circles and your organization’s recognition. A casual, positive conversation can translate into an open door for partnerships later on.

Reach Out First

When you’ve found a company or non-profit that would be a good fit in your network, don’t be afraid to make the first move. Nothing is going to move forward unless someone decides to act. The other party might not know you are open to collaborating or perhaps is too focused on other matters. Sending an email or scheduling a meeting is the first “big step” to closing the deal. The worst they can do is say “no”. If they’re not interested, you can simply move on to another opportunity.

Maintain Relationships

Once you have a signed partnership, the job isn’t over. Just like any good relationship, you must make an effort to keep both parties on good terms. Maintain positive communication beyond work negotiations and try to express gratitude, in some form, every now and then. Small efforts can keep your partnerships strong and promote a positive reputation towards new inquiries.

Market Your Network to Others

Once you have established collaborations with a few organizations, you can begin to use your network as a selling point. Aligning with a successful, efficient partnership network would give other organizations multiple opportunities to grow and benefit from your work. From there, the collective effort only multiplies into greater results.