What is a Host-beneficiary Relationship, and How can you Work it for your Nonprofit?

So you’re looking into making multiple streams of income for your nonprofit. You’ve got your events going. You’ve got your grants program going. You’ve got your appeal letter out. How ELSE can you make money for your nonprofit?

Think about who you can partner with in a host-beneficiary relationship. This could be part of cause marketing, or it could be just creating business partnerships with your neighbors in the strip mall.

A host-beneficiary relationship is one that people probably try to talk you into all the time. It’s when you are sitting at your desk, minding your own business, and the local mattress store calls you up and says,

“Hey, put an ad about us in your newsletter!” And you say,

“Why would I do that?” And they say,

“Well, we’ll give a discount to your newsletter subscribers!”

Uh huh.

So this is a clumsy and not effective way to try to get someone to be a host for you. How can you be smarter than the mattress salesman?

1. Define your target audience and think of local businesses they frequent. Think about who your natural partners are. If you’re a food bank, would partnering with local restaurants be a good idea? Local grocery stores? And could you use their mailings or e-newsletters to talk about your nonprofit? Yes?
1. Start with your favorite local restaurant and see what they say.
2. Poll your staff and see where they eat when they go out. Start with places you’ve already built relationships with. Life is so much easier this way. So think about the whole package of your donors, your volunteers, etc.
3. Approach the restaurant, talk about all of the business you give them, collectively, and ask if they’d like to partner. If so,
4. Could they do a special night where you get part of the proceeds?

Another example. If you’re an environmental nonprofit that does outdoor land cleanup, do they get their hiking boots at the local Army-Navy Store? Could you partner with this store?

Yet Another example. If you’re a nonprofit serving people with developmental disabilities, what sorts of people donate to you? Are they the families of people with developmental disabilities? Do you know which products they use, what books they buy, what support groups they go to? How can you help your nonprofit help them even more effectively by connecting them to the resources they need?

2. DEVELOP A SEPARATE OFFER FOR EACH PARTNER.  As far as possible, come up with a service that has a high perceived value for the consumer.  Do as much as possible to make this offer unique to each new partner.  Remember that some of your customers may already be customers of several potential partners. So maybe you can offer to highlight them in your newsletter, but more than that, if they are doing pinups for you at their store, maybe you can drive more people to their store to buy the pinups, or come there yourself and help their staff talk to customers about your nonprofit, get people excited about your cause.

3. HIGHLIGHT THE BENEFITS TO THE HOST BUSINESS.  Show them that your plan offers a way for them to reward their customers at minimal expense and with little effort.  It’s also a great way for them to reach out to their customers, reminding them of the long-term relationship. Your pinup campaign, for example, contributes to employee satisfaction and customer loyalty.

4. SUPPLY A LETTER FOR THE HOST’S USE.  Providing a letter that can be sent to the host’s customers on the host’s letterhead will help put the plan into motion quickly.  It will also show your potential partner how easy it will be for them to participate. Let’s say you want to do an event in the parking lot of a local pet store, advertising your free spay and neuter day. They have an email list they can send this out to.

5. ENSURE YOU HAVE A STRATEGY TO CONVERT THESE LEADS INTO LONG TERM PARTNERS.  This, after all, is your long-term goal.  Once you get enough local business partners, you can start to develop a reputation as a good nonprofit to help businesses with their marketing, customer loyalty, and employee volunteerism, as well as someone who thinks strategically, long-term, and more like a business in this way too. This might lead to them sponsoring your annual walk-a-thon, or recommending you to other partners, and more!

Have you ever done cause marketing? Or participated in a host-beneficiary relationship? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments!TweetPin

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