Top 3 Things Companies Look for in a Nonprofit Partner


Corporate giving contributed more than $18 billion in 2016 to the nonprofit community. This creates a massive opportunity for corporations and nonprofits to provide value for one another. Unfortunately, 80% of nonprofits said they have difficulty building strong corporate partnerships.

With over ten years of experience connecting corporations and their employees to the nonprofit community, we have learned what it takes to build those strong relationships. Our team has pulled together the top three nonprofit qualities that corporations look for when deciding who to partner with.

Aligned Values

Every company has spent countless hours defining their brand’s mission, and in today’s business world, most have even outlined their philanthropic mission. That is why it’s so important to ensure that the corporation and the nonprofit have aligned values. In fact, 92% of companies say that brand alignment is the most important factor.

So what do you need to do?

Make sure your mission and focus is crystal clear. You already have the meat of your mission created, let’s just go over it again to make sure that anyone could tell what you stand for in their own words. We like to run “the grandma test.” Read your mission on your website and ask yourself, “Can my ninety-year old grandma clearly tell me what we do?” If not, you need to work on cleaning up the language used in your mission by leveraging your organization's story to stand out from the other millions of nonprofits in the world.

It is also good to keep in mind that more and more companies are aligning their mission with the United Nations’ Impact 2030 goals. There are 17 goals, that each have 5-10 actionable targets. Each goal is represented graphically by a badge. Check out the goals and display the badges that align with your mission on your website to clearly show what your organization contributes to Impact 2030.

Also, declare your badges in the platforms that corporations use to manage and host all their employee engagement activity. Currently, YourCause is the only provider that will allow you to do this. Within our new Global Goals Gateway impact tool, you can specify down to the percentage how your organization supports each of the 17 Global Goals. This information is accessible to corporations and can further increase your nonprofit’s exposure.

Transparency and Impact

Corporations want to know who they are in bed with. Transparency and communication are the key to assuring corporations that your organization is the real deal.

Companies want to know how nonprofits are using funds and resources. A good way to show this is through impact reporting. Illustrating impact puts a real-world context to the efforts of a corporate. For example, the nonprofit “SmileTrain” has calculated that $250 leads to the surgery for one child to have a cleft palate repair surgery. This allows donors to understand and share how many people they are impacting with their contributions.

This quote from a Huffington Post article on the state of CSR shows this trend:

“As corporate funders focus efforts and dollars for more impact, they are also more concerned with measuring the outcomes of their efforts. More companies are reporting on CSR activities, realizing the importance of transparency, especially as social media becomes more prevalent.” -Linda Novick Okeefe

Being proactive in reporting: where money is going, how resources are be used, and the impact of a volunteer event will go a long way to show the company the value in the partnership.

Location and Visibility

Not everyone can partner with the Levi's and Dell’s of the world. There are far more companies smaller in size who are looking to make an impact in their local communities. If you are a nonprofit making a local impact, you have a unique opportunity to appeal to the companies in your area.

These companies wish to show that they are involved in their community. They hope that the nonprofit’s image will help to define, enhance, or even repair its own image. So be aware of your own visibility and demographics. Show them your reach, such as how many people are on your mailing list, social followers, donors, social followers, etc.


Giving back in corporate America is no longer a nice to have but an expectation. And companies are proactively looking for the right partner to reach their philanthropic goals. We’ve seen companies in our network search for nonprofits based on these attributes listed above. By being aware of what companies look for in a nonprofit partner, you set your nonprofit up to build strong, lasting philanthropic relations within the corporate community.

Ryder Kessler