The nonprofit and corporate worlds are very different, but those two worlds can establish mutually beneficial relationships. Many charities are looking for philanthropic support from the private sector, and they are getting what they need, and corporations are seeing their public profiles improved for helping to provide that much-needed financial support.
A good working relationship is at the core of the successful partnership between a corporation and a nonprofit. This can be a challenge, because the corporate and nonprofit worlds operate in such fundamentally different ways. Consultants say that since the corporations are the ones holding the purse strings, it is in the best interest of the nonprofit to be as businesslike as possible in order to more successfully partner with the corporation. Nonprofits, as a rule, are staffed by people who are passionate about what they do, and are dedicated toward issues and goals. Consequently they often are not very familiar corporate culture. The opposite, of course, is also true. This can create an “odd couple” sort of situation where the two parties don’t seem to understand one another. In the worst of cases this can lead to a breakdown in the relationship. The nonprofit stands to lose the funding it was counting on, and so stands to lose the most when this happens.
John Gregory is a successful consultant in Columbus, Ohio, whose background includes brokering successful relationships between nonprofits and their corporate partners. He orchestrated the partnership between TurnerBovis and his National Center for Urban Solutions, which resulted in a working relationship that provided information and training avenues to get people ready for jobs in the construction industry, specifically with the Ohio State University Medical Center.