Looking for a nonprofit partner is like choosing a neighborhood to live in – there are thousands of decent ones to choose from, they are all slightly different, and everyone has an opinion on which one is the best. The process can become overwhelming if you don’t have a clear vision of what to look for in your next partnership.   

As a nonprofit that’s been around for nearly 30 years and is partnered with some of the largest retailers and pharmaceutical organizations in the world, we know what it takes to make a partnership successful. So, we’ve put together five qualities that we believe all businesses should look for in a nonprofit partner.   

1. They operate like a for-profit business

The term “nonprofit” can be somewhat misleading because it makes people think that nonprofits are run according to a different set of standards than a regular business. The truth is, however, that successful nonprofits are run like a for-profit business. They have an objective, strategy, and plan of execution in place. They have deliverables that they must meet to bring value back to their donors, field partners, and everyone who is working with them and for them. They also have strong financials and are willing to prove it. We recommend only considering partnerships with nonprofits that have received the highest marks from Charity Navigator and GuideStar, the top nonprofit financial transparency evaluators.

2. They know your business inside and out 

If you want your nonprofit partner to bring value to your business, then they have to know your business intimately. Let them in. Share your short and long term goals with them. Share your challenges and who your competitors are. Don’t assume that because you’re supporting their work, that they don’t have to provide value back to you in return. There has to be reciprocity. Meet with your lead contact at the nonprofit and tell them what you are trying to achieve this fiscal year, and then ask them to come back to the table with ways they can support you in achieving those goals. A nonprofit that treats you like a business partner is a nonprofit you want to work with. 

3. They have exceptional leadership and credibility in their field 

Have high standards when it comes to who is executing the work in the field by your nonprofit. It’s your money that is funding their work, so the people who are using those funds to get the job done should be subject matter experts, have top credentials, and relationships with other leading organizations that can help move the work forward. Also, check out the news – does the nonprofit receive any coverage? Typically well qualified nonprofits receive news coverage and oftentimes, it’s their experts who are quoted.  

4. They are unique

There are hundreds of nonprofits, many of whom have similar missions. What sets apart the one you are considering? How do they communicate their differentiator publicly? Choose a nonprofit that has something unique about them. Whether it’s the type of work they do, how they do it, or where they work, ensure your next nonprofit partner doesn’t just blend in. For Vitamin Angels, our model is what makes us unique in that we strengthen, extend, and amplify the impact of our in-country partners, including NGO’s, nonprofits, faith-based organizations, and governments, to reach the most nutritionally vulnerable and hard to reach populations: pregnant women, infants, and young children. No other organization has this model. 

5. They know how to engage your employees 

A good nonprofit partner will not only sell you – the business owner – on why you should partner with them, but they will also help to foster passion for their mission amongst your employees. The partnership shouldn’t just be at the executive level, it needs to be carried throughout your entire organization. Choose a nonprofit partner that has experience engaging employees through various tactics like facilitating trips into the field to see their work first hand or creating an in-store campaign that lets staff at all levels own a piece of what your partnership is achieving together. 

Your next nonprofit partnership shouldn’t just be a logo lockup that you can share with your consumers to show that you are giving back. It should be something that is cultivated every day in all aspects of your business by both you and the nonprofit. We believe that if you start your search with these five requirements, you’ll be on your way to finding the right nonprofit for you. 

About Vitamin Angels 

Founded in 1994, Vitamin Angels is a public health nonprofit working to improve nutrition and health outcomes in low-resource settings worldwide. It aims to strengthen, extend, and amplify the impact of its partner organizations working to reach the most nutritionally vulnerable groups – pregnant women, infants, and young children – who are underserved by existing systems. We do this by delivering evidence-based interventions and offering technical assistance, including ongoing monitoring and evaluation, to ensure program quality, scale, and impact. Vitamin Angels works with over 1,200 local organizations, including governments, to reach more than 71 million women and children in about 65 countries annually. Both Charity Navigator and GuideStar give Vitamin Angels their highest marks for financial transparency. To learn more, visit: www.vitaminangels.org.

Hi there 👋
Want the inside scoop on all things CPG?

Get the latest CPG and retail insights, trends, and business best practices sent directly to your inbox, every week.