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June 17, 2010 / companystarter

It starts tomorrow

Well, actually, it started a long long time ago.  But tomorrow we host our first formal partnership discussion with a nonprofit.  We will be pitching to an inspirational educational organization helping low-income and disadvantaged preschoolers across America achieve the same literacy and socialization levels as their better-off peers.  They have volunteers in more than 10 states who’ve donated millions of hours and helped tens of thousands of kids.

I will have plenty of lessons to share tomorrow, but heading into this conversation, let me tell you what we focused on and what’s important to us:

Who Are We?
Yes, this is the elevator pitch but it’s also a first impression, a way to let them know what our company is about and to begin finding a direct connection to them.  It’s also an opportunity for us to present ourselves in a way that’s directly relatable to them, based on what we know.  For example, they have spent real time learning about and investing in mobile applications.  We discuss our mobile application immediately.  I’m betting there will be smiles around their conference table when we talk about it, and they’ll feel a direct connection.

Why this nonprofit?
This seems so obvious but I think it must be forgotten frequently.  We didn’t just pick them out of a hat.  We invested in a 6 month review to establish our own nonprofit evaluation process and vet a number of high-velocity nonprofits.  They rose to the top of a very competitive crowd.  So many companies choose nonprofit partners without getting to know them first.  We’ve read their tweets, watched their videos, evaluated their finances, and more and more.  We really do know them, and we want them to know that.

The partnership as we envision it
This is where we hope to set ourselves apart from other cause marketing partners they may be reviewing.  We know the pressures nonprofits are under and we know what they have to do to activate their partnerships.  For-profit partners can be extremely difficult and misunderstandings occur all the time between partners.  We want to avoid all that and offer them a long-term relationship that will flourish through mutual respect and shared goals.

To that end, we’re offering up the world, and asking for very little.  We will give $.25/product sold, of course, but on top of that we’re committed to driving awareness to increase additional donations, gain supporters, build community, and solicit volunteers.  We’re committed to full transparency to augment the ongoing halo effect and let the universe know that we’re serious, we’re honest, and we’re happy to share all that we do.  All that, and all they have to do is work with us on some messaging points.  The burden is on us!

Of course, we want to develop the partnership over time and increase their involvement.  We at least want them to talk about us on Twitter, for example.  But that’s up to them to decide, and up to us to prove our worth.

All of the above is outlined in full view for the presentation tomorrow.  We think we’ve got a compelling story, a strong offer, and a really neat idea.  I’ll come back tomorrow and let you know how it went, and what I learned in between.

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2 Comments

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  1. Megan Strand / Jun 17 2010 6:16 am

    Brilliant, Ian.

    Not only are you outlining the assets you bring to the table, you’re helping them envision the partnership by painting them into it and demonstrating that you truly understand their organization.

    I have every expectation your meeting will be a resounding success and that your next post will be a recap of your success.

    Great blog, btw. 🙂

    • companystarter / Jun 18 2010 3:15 am

      Thanks so much, Megan. I’ll write in more depth soon, but it worked really well and they were super pleased. Thanks for your support!

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