Businesses helping nonprofits, nonprofits helping nonprofits, nonprofits helping businesses, and businesses helping businesses

I have always loved the concept of collaboration. Not only does it appeal to my desire for a better world, but it also taps into my innate need for effectiveness and streamlining. But partnerships can only be successful and sustainable if the parties benefit equally. As I reflect on the concept of survival and the new ways businesses and organizations will have to adapt to the new pandemic and post-pandemic worlds, the idea of “we are all in this together” translates for me into Effective Partnerships, and The Power of the Village.

The examples below of how we can work in collaboration may be familiar, but in our current upheaval I think they are worth revisiting. They remind us of some proven techniques that have been good for the bottom line of businesses and communities, and also for marketing and brand reinforcement. I invite you to read below with a new mindset and a welcoming sense of creativity, considering how some of these collaborative approaches could help you, your fellow organizations, and our community as we re-emerge into a new normal.


Businesses Helping Nonprofits

Most nonprofits could not survive (or even get started) without sponsorships and corporate donations, but I am also heartened by the many corporations that have instituted programs such as hands-on giving Volunteer Time Off (VTO), when an organization offers paid days off for its employees to volunteer their time and support nonprofit causes they care about. In a great article by the United Way titled Volunteer Time Off: By the Numbers, a 2017 Glassdoor survey reveals that 75% of millennials expect their employer to participate in social good, either with donations or through volunteering. Toms was a pioneer with their buy-one-give-one approach that propelled them into business, and many local restaurants and small businesses have supported nonprofits by donating a day’s sales to a local organization while expanding their brand exposure.


Nonprofits Helping Other Nonprofits or Positive-Impact Organizations

The non-profit sector exists to do good in the world where it is needed most, and there is no better way to do good than by helping and connecting with other people who have the same desire to make a positive impact. Sharefest is a local nonprofit that, in the process of supporting youth brings the community together to do good works. Similarly, the Volunteer Center leads in responding to critical community needs by assembling specialized teams of caring, talented volunteers and creating signature programs to address these issues. Their important work includes the Food For Kids program which is continuing to work with local schools to provide weekend meals to families in need, despite school closures– and they also support the work various organizations. On a global scale, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation partners with governments and both the public and private sectors to foster greater public awareness of urgent global issues. These are just a few examples of organizations that have become larger than themselves by involving partners and serving their communities on a broader scale.


Nonprofits Helping Businesses

The last time I went out to dinner before the shelter-in-place was March 7, prior to a concert with the Long Beach Symphony. We chose the restaurant based on the symphony’s Subscribers Dining Discount Program where restaurants on the list are highlighted and subscribers get a dining discount. The nonprofit got support, the restaurant got our business, and we got to enjoy a fabulous meal at a new restaurant within walking distance of the venue – plus, they were great about getting us in and out on time for the concert… Win.Win.Win.


Businesses Helping Businesses

During this pandemic we have seen an outpouring of loyalty and support for local businesses through take-out or deliveries, buying from smaller grocers, and ordering online directly from small businesses instead of through large distributors. However, the impact on small businesses has still been immense. Rebuilding from this will require collaboration, creativity, and a whole new rule book which may include:

  • Tailoring vendor relationships as partners in success
  • Buying local
  • Marketing the sale of gift cards as a form of up-fronting cash
  • Teaming up with other businesses for complementary offers
  • Point-building programs for future discounts
  • 2- or 3-payment financing plans to buy [an annual subscription, etc.]


As I look back on my 28 years in business, my best teachers have always been my own clients and vendors. I remember when starting my consulting business how much I learned from the strengths of my community and collaborators (even “competitors”). Now more than ever, this may be the key to rebuilding. Many of us will need to look back on the early days of our work and the lessons and efforts we had to employ in order to grow. We will need to seek new alliances and rekindle others, and be authentic and honest when we need help. Drawing from collaborations will most likely provide the greatest pearls of wisdom for reemergence into our new society.