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In Canada, there are over 170,000 charitable and nonprofit organizations, many of which work in areas of health education and disease prevention. These organizations, like the ALS Society of Canada and Muscular Dystrophy Canada, work hard to improve access to treatment, support patients, provide education and conduct research. Funding is crucial for keeping these organizations in operation – and it’s not easy to get.

In order to raise funds, nonprofits need to run fundraising campaigns to raise awareness. The main problem is that these campaigns cost money, which many of these organizations don’t have. It’s an uphill battle that is difficult to win. When organizations do receive adequate funds to put into a strategic campaign, amazing things can happen. A successful example was the ALS Ice Bucket challenge. Not only were funds raised for the cause, all parties involved benefited from a huge increase in brand awareness.

In order to fund marketing campaigns to increase brand awareness, many nonprofits look to the government for grants. Unfortunately, nonprofits face a lot more barriers than businesses to access funding. Not only is this frustrating for nonprofits, it also has a negative impact on how the organizations are being run. When there are not enough funds, employees and volunteers tend to be overworked and the organization is also prevented from operating at its full potential.

Ironically, nonprofits are expected to perform like businesses even though they do not get the same freedom with funding as government-contracted businesses do. They also do not have the same bargaining power as most big businesses.

It’s important to note that the government doesn’t set specific requirements for charities to make it difficult for them to get funding. The requirements are there to ensure that the projects that receive funding are operating in honorable ways. Still, the reality is that charitable grants are hard to come by. This leads to underpaid and overworked employees, which limits organizations’ ability to operate.

Big businesses don’t face the same barriers because they operate in a different manner. Simply put, they don’t look for charitable donations to operate so there are fewer limitations on how their funds are spent. Many of the businesses that the government works with are often in industries like gas and automotive, which have a tight hold on the economy. In other words, they have a lot of power.

So, what is the solution? It’s not realistic to look to the government to increase their charitable funding or to establish easier access. A more realistic solution is for nonprofits and big businesses to enter into partnerships where they each help each other increase their brand awareness.

These partnerships create great opportunities for brand promotion for both parties. Both the charity and nonprofit gain access to new audiences and have access to new material that they can market with. Posting on each other’s blogs, on social media, and sharing collaborative work with media are all techniques that will boost brand reputation of both partners.

Today’s consumers are increasingly interested in doing business with companies that are socially responsible. By supporting a nonprofit, businesses will receive publicity from the charity they are supporting and will also be perceived more positively by consumers.

4 ways businesses can help nonprofits?

1. Entering into a partnership with a nonprofit doesn’t have to be limited to donating funds. It can also include donating services for free or at a reduced rate. This cuts the costs for the nonprofit while enabling them to still operate in an effective manner.

2. A business can work with a nonprofit by providing them training in a specific skill set. For example, a marketing agency might work with a charity to help teach them valuable strategic marketing skills. This is adding value to the foundation while also providing the agency with charitable actions that they can leverage in their marketing.

3. It’s most effective when a business chooses one or two nonprofits to support every year. This creates a strong partnership between the two and is the most sustainable for both parties.

4. Businesses can promote the charity across social media channels. This will have a positive impact on both parties.

To stay in operation and make a positive impact, nonprofits need to operate in ways that produce money. Clearly, being solely dependent on government funding is not sustainable. Working with nonprofit organizations presents many opportunities for businesses. Not only are they increasing their brand awareness and creating a socially responsible reputation amongst consumers, they are enabling nonprofits to operate in a business-like fashion. This means that the nonprofit would have the funds to pay employees and wouldn’t need to rely on volunteers. The nonprofit, the business, and the community all benefit.

Did you find this post interesting? Check out Five Tips for Creating a Socially Responsible Brand.

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