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ASU Lodestar Center Blog

How can nonprofits attract and sustain corporate partnerships?

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) holds the power to make a significant difference for nonprofits and corporations around the world. The partnership between a corporation and nonprofit can be extremely complex and vary in participation, outcome and more, year by year. As corporate social responsibility becomes integrated into the framework of society, best practices need to be in place to successfully unify the collaboration between the public and private sectors. Nonprofit organizations and corporations need to work together and trust one another in order to make the largest impact possible for the populations they intend to serve. 

CSR should not be created solely to follow the trend and please stakeholders. These partnerships balance on a delicate scale between two sectors, which means that these cross-sector collaborations need to balance the needs of one another while accomplishing goals for the community. There is a significant need for improved social partnership which can withstand economic turmoil (Frynas, 2005, p. 581). CSR faces not only economic challenges, but also the challenge to be a successful partner with a nonprofit for long-term improvement (Lantos, 2001, p. 32). When economic giving for corporations may not be consistent over time, nonprofits need to find other ways to encourage corporations to support these pivotal partnerships (Lantos, 2001, p. 40). Examining current corporate social responsibility structures, determining areas for improvement, and creating management solutions to be applied throughout the nonprofit sector will assist in reviewing this problem.

Several relationship weaknesses and issues constricting nonprofit have emerged making it difficult for corporate collaborations to consistently succeed Some of these prominent weaknesses include a need for more evaluation before, during and after a partnership is formed. An increased presence of stewardship needs to be implemented at every phase of the relationship, starting immediately when attempting to attract corporate sponsors. Nonprofits need to diversify their opportunities when attempting to create partnerships with corporations. A  clear and concise time frame needs to be shared and agreed upon between both the nonprofit and the corporation in order to ensure all participants are aware of the length of support as well as necessary milestones that are required to be met. 

To solve these problems, awareness and shared information will be the first step to ensure a plan is in place to solve these common issues before they occurs. Educating nonprofit employees and leaders about best practices will enhance their ability to contribute to the goal of attracting and sustaining the right partners to further the mission. Leadership should meet often with community partners to learn their needs and desired outcomes and to share how the nonprofit partnership can complement their efforts while furthering their mission. It is imperative that these partnerships are not created simply to connect with a prominent name in the community. Partnerships should only take place if they are reciprocal agreements that will benefit the nonprofit organization. 

To further increase support, nonprofit organizations must diversify their “asks” when soliciting corporations for support. If nonprofits are able to present multiple levels of opportunities that are clearly distinct from one another, they gain the ability to make connections and steward their relationship for the future. Organizations that are open to becoming involved in cross-sector partnerships will be more willing to give support when they have an opportunity to select their level of involvement and customize their experience to create a individualistic partnership.  

By appropriately addressing these issues, leaders will be able to create additional successful partnerships and enhance the existing partnerships they have, to secure future support independent of economic outcome. When these partnerships succeed and find it mutually beneficial, that is when the community unites and benefits the most.  


Frynas, J. G. (2005). The False Developmental Promise of Corporate Social

Responsibility: Evidence from Multinational Oil Companies. International Affairs, vol. 81 (no. 3). 

Lantos, G.P. (2001). The Boundaries of Corporate Social Responsibility. 

Stonehill College, p. 2, 32-40. 

Hailey Farr is a passionate event and nonprofit professional who has been working to unite and improve Arizona’s communities while living in Arizona for the past six years. Hailey completed her undergraduate degree from ASU in Public Relations and Tourism Development. During that time she discovered her passion for the nonprofit sector. She  is a graduate of ASU Masters of Nonprofit Leadership and Management and plans to continue working in the sector and making an impact for many years to come.


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