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Non-profit Strategic Partnership: the Sharing Economy

When planning media campaigns, fundraising events and volunteer initiatives, you should consider tapping into the power of the “sharing economy” through your strategic partnerships.

The sharing economy partners unexpected entities based on needs and surplus. Shared values and communities are traditionally crucial to partnership fit. However, these factors are no longer the key glue binding successful partners.

Successful examples of the sharing economy at work include:

● Empty university dorms becoming lodging for the Armed Forces in the summer

● Private car sharing program Uber turning your empty passenger seat into cash

● Spare bedrooms are now income generators through Airbnb

● Lonely couches all over the world are saving travellers money

● Private jets flying back without their celebrity cargo have converted these empty leg flights into revenue

Outlined in this article are four common partnership that can be used to benefit your non-profit.

1. Media Exposure for Content: Social media space can be shared

Online engagement is at the forefront of a good marketing campaign. Many organizations are desperate for substantive, relevant and original content. If your non-profit is churning out quality content (e.g. digital collections, frequent social media posts, technically competent video), consider a strategic partnership with a larger organization which has a wide media reach. A worthy cause that is creating great content is worth sharing access to costly and robust distribution channels.

2. Targeted Viewers for Brand Rub-off: Brand value can be shared

While non-profits are rightfully reluctant to be turned into race cars plastered with logos, well placed, well respected and well designed logos become an asset to non-profits. Analyze your database and know the demographic mix of your donors. Know the exact message you want to send by including a particular logo on your material. Figure out what that particular logo does to bolster the reputation of your organization. Provide your partner with brand exposure within the community of people they target, increasing the impact of your solicitation through positive brand association.

3. A Venue for an Audience: Physical space during non-peak times can be shared

In the 1990’s Kevin Costner told us that “if you build it, they will come.” Anyone in tourism knows, they will probably only come in a particular season or at a particular time of day. Many organizations struggle to get the people they aim to serve in the door. There is a vast amount of competition for people’s time and attention.

Under these circumstances, an event with a guaranteed audience is attractive for a partner even when you offer no rental compensation. Many organizations want nothing more than to introduce their services and their space to the communities they were intended to serve. The Canadian Museum of Nature has recently partnered with the hugely popular local Pride Parade to host an after-hours fundraising event. If your choice of partner is strategic and based on audience fit, this introduction should be more than welcome!

4. Expertise for Fun: Expertise can be shared

Some partners relish the opportunity to inform and teach your audience about a subject area they are passionate about. This surplus of passion regarding a specialized topic can be translated into event entertainment, high quality social media content and/or expert volunteers. In return, these experts are often looking for a positive experience. They want fun, organized logistics and respect. Examples of this type of knowledge sharing can be seen in the medical doctors who volunteer for the Olympics, professors who volunteer to give lectures at museums and expert bloggers who volunteer to write articles for select causes.


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