Community Partners

What can community partners do for your organization?

From picking up the bill to providing discount services to expanding your marketing reach, community partners can do so much to enhance your member’s overall experience.

Do you know why?

Strong business leaders within your community were all once kids. Likely, business leaders participated in sports or knew someone that did. Those leaders know about the opportunities given through sports for both the young and old. In recognizing that, they will often be very interested in finding ways to help give back to the organizations that also provide that much-needed service to the community.

That’s only half of it!

There are many mental and physical benefits to sport participation; networking, stress relief, and strengthening the body to last a lifetime. Community businesses that recognize the benefits of sport are more than happy to partner. If the company's core beliefs align with your organization's core beliefs, you're more likely to have a better working relationship. Alignment and partnerships can come in multiple forms, but the best partnerships are always symbiotic.

How do you Grow?

Community partners extend brand reach for your organization by acting as a satellite office. More satellite offices will give your organization a feeling that it is bigger than it is. Because these partners will likely be acting as an entity to your organization, it is important to ensure that core values between the organizations are aligned. In an article published by galaxy digital, the traditional sponsorship-focused relationship has shifted to a more dynamic relationship, with common goal alignment that drives results to common goals.

Before connecting with potential community partners, have an ask plan that is communicated clearly. Potential partners are busy and need to know how their funds will effect change. Be prepared with a partner program that shows them how they will make a difference, make sure that you have references to your website that includes the program details. With open and honest communication you will ensure there are no surprises, and in the end, both organizations are happy with the results of the partnership and the success of your season. Make sure to follow up afterwards!

Before going into the meeting ensure that you understand your potential partners business, and how your organization can help to benefit them. Tax breaks are great from program donations, but long-lasting relationships are better forged through the understanding that the support your partner businesses are providing is effecting real change. 

Where to Go from Here?

Our last article (Apparel and You) spoke to the benefits of using apparel in your marketing scheme. Having that apparel partner in the community is a great start to establishing strong community partnerships. Some apparel partners stock pre-made products, allowing you to extend your market reach with your brand being seen in bricks and mortar stores that can be purchased as needed, instead of having to be ordered online. Talk to your apparel partners about establishing an affiliate program. In exchange for referring your members to their store, your apparel partners provide you with a kickback per sale.

Affiliate programs don’t just have to be in apparel, you can look to the hospitality industry as a means to establish strong programs for your members. Do you host large events where your members will need refuelling? These events are prime opportunities to refer attendees to your partner in exchange for a kick-back to your organization, or discount pricing for your members.

Make your members feel that they are just treated better in the community with your partners. In addition to affiliate programming, look to get promotional pricing on products and services within the community. Imagine the buzz created about your organization when two friends talk about the same purchase, but one got a better price! Better pricing from your partners can come from cross-promotion marketing, or subsidy payments made at the end of a campaign. Drive home the message in the community that members of your organization get preferential treatment.

Finally, exposing your membership group to a local service provider is a great way for that provider to perpetuate their brand, or expose themselves to new opportunities. In the next article, we will speak about media partner opportunities, but the focus here is creating content that will be consumed by an audience that your advertising partner is interested in being exposed to.

In conclusion

Community partners make your organization bigger. They expand your partner’s brand to make them look like a responsible leader within the community. Each partnership is a symbiotic relationship netting benefit to both organizations, with an infinite number of possibilities of how it forms.

Look for opportunities to give back to your partners so that you can raise funds, gain access to premium services, acquire products or product discounts all while providing a better experience to your group, your partners, and the community as a whole.

Corporate Partnerships: A Guide for Nonprofits - October 2021 -